the different communities (destined to be destabilized) reinforced a fusion to which personalities such as André Salmon, Blaise Cendrars and Waldemar George contributed with efficacy. Paris fascinated Weissberg. The period of apprenticeship was prolonged at the Louvre where he went regularly with his friends. Weissberg was dazzled by Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Velasquez, Goya, and Rembrandt whose luminous magic he studied. He was not to forget their palette, dominated by the brown and amber tones, blacks employed as frank contrasts. In the French School, he was attached to Watteau and Fragonard for their amber light, and Corot for his luminous transparence. In the Luxembourg Museum where the Impressionists were shown, he was sensitive to the freedom of Pissarro’s stroke, to Manet and Renoir’s sensuality of color. Cézanne painted the subjects of his day as a classic, and Van Gogh made color irradiate. Weissberg verified what he had learned by the standard of the famous works of the Masters. For this elegant man, possessing a charm that made him appreciated, whose European culture reflected the wealth of his deep-seated temperament, the first duty was to be authentic in everything he undertook, first of all in his work. This was no longer a time for questions, or for hesitations. From his stays in Vienna, Munich, Berlin, and travels through Italy and the Netherlands, an irrefutable legacy had ripened, which he put into the service of the visible world. His humanist vision led him to reject realism just as much as post-Cubism, the one and the other bogged down in academism, but also artistic movements such as Suprematism, Constructivism, in the name of a retour à l’ordre, drained of its personal effusion, and consequently of its truth. For Weissberg, what meaning could be ascribed to modernity? He was not religious, and he was penetrated with a universalist turn of mind. His studies had formed him. His presence in Paris had made him reflect on the wealth the capital had brought to him, while at the same time revealing him to himself. Since biblical culture banished the representation of God, and since the representation of Man had no place either,16 he was to take on the ancient prohibi-
16. At this time, the “Biblical culture” was no longer what it had been. Humanism had triumphed in the Jewish population, and the prohibitions of yore no longer had any echo, except in strictly religious circles. Paradoxically, speaking of the portraits by Weissberg, as emphasized Laurence Imbernon (the organizer of the Weissberg exhibition in Rodez), while in “traditional Jewish thought, in its religious essence, […] the esthetic physical representation was suspected of being detrimental to spirituality and bordering on idolatry”, in the work of Weissberg, who turns his back on estheticism, it is the opposite that occurs: “a spirituality overflows from each painting.” Léon Weissberg, pour une peinture spirituelle, catalog for the exhibition Léon Weissberg, une retrospective, Denys-Puech Museum of Fine Arts, Rodez, France, 2002. LL.
tions and to reject everything that did not express his truth. He refused to subscribe to any theory, reserving for himself to draw his inspiration from the real and from the emotional, however fleeting that may be. By the forms, the colors, which flush out the secret of things and beings, and their profound identity, the wounds and the joys of the soul, his painting reached an expression, a true one, via the most authentic route: sincerity. To accomplish his vocation, nothing was to stop him – neither the deprivations, nor the odd jobs reserved for foreigners, enabling him to compensate for the deficiencies of the prosaic reality. “Time is a phenomenon of setting into perspective, but it is necessary to live” , wrote Cocteau at this moment in time. In a Montparnasse that was still fraternal, Weissberg gave free rein to his gifts. He took quite naturally the road of a realism in the service of the classical categories: the portrait, the still-life, the landscape. It should b