Leonid Berman was born in 1896 in Saint Petersburg into a Jewish family. In 1919, following the Bolshevik Revolution, his family moved from Russia to France. From the early 1920s, Berman studied with his sister Eugène and with Christian Berard at the Académie Ranson in Paris. Together with these artists, Berman formed a group known as the Neo-Romanticists which, in contrast to Cubism and Futurism, insisted on poetic subject matter in painting. The group exhibited together in 1926 at the Durer Gallery. In 1929, Berman exhibited with his sister and Jean Hugo at the Balzac Gallery in New York.

During World War II, Berman was taken prisoner in France and confined to a German work camp. Liberated at the end of the war, he relocated to the United States in 1946 where he befriended the Stroud family, to whom he would bequeath half of his possessions, composed largely by his paintings. He chose beaches as a typical subjects in his work, which he rendered in a style similar to that of 18th and 19th centuries landscapes rather than those of the Impressionists. In 1948 he married musician Sylvia Marlowe. After gathering his memoirs and publishing The Three Worlds of Leonid, Leonid Berman died in New York in 1976.