real to the unreal and takes on a mystery that brings together every living surge offered up by nature. His dreams come to a close in his Autoportrait en clown (Selfportrait as a Clown, 1942), enigmatic visage that fixes for eternity the ultimate dream of a liberty conquered by his art. The suffering has taken on the traits of a mask that never forgets reality – that reality that, in spite of everything, dominates us. The bitter realism, of a rare evocative force, expressed through a materialistic violence, at once both generous and restrained by the way in which the line constructs each part of the face. In all things, and regardless of the subject, Weissberg was always able to balance his sense of nature, exalt the living forces of his desire to paint, his never-ending quest for humanism, to which death alone brought a term. On February 18, 1943, two French gendarmes appeared at the inn of Mr Andrieu where Weissberg was living and ordered him to follow them. From Rodez, he was interned in the Gurs prison camp, then transferred to Drancy on March 2. On March 6, 1943, Weissberg sent his last “interzone postcard” to his daughter: “I am leaving for unknown destination”. Deported in Convoy number
51, he arrived at the Lublin-Maïdanek death camp on March 11, a few kilometers from Lwow (Lemberg), and was assassinated on the same day.20 With Le Repas du clown (The Clown’s Meal – February 1943), Weissberg had painted his last dream, with a liberty shot through by a lyricism that is like a symbolic foreshadowing. It is precisely his symbolic gesture that gives all its emotive value to this mysterious scene. We detect here one of the essential sources of his art, the magical side of all things, the singular beauty of which Weissberg never ceased to express, treating this beauty with a sentiment of ideal and moral unity through plastic qualities of color and light that made them more profound. Only the imagination of the painter and the poet can claim to recreate what surrounds us and give life to plastic emotion. Weissberg conquered one and the other, with the eloquence permitted by the elevation of his thought, constant, noble and radiant – the truth in art. LYDIA HARAMBOURG Art Historian, Correspondent of the Institute
20. Serge Klarsfeld’s Mémorial de la Déportation des Juifs de France confirms the deportation of Weissberg to Maïdanek in convoy number 51, which left the train station Le Bourget-Drancy on March 6, 1943 at 8:55, a train with 959 men, 39 women and 2 children on board (pp. 388 and 401). He specifies, with respect to convoys 50 and 51 of March 4 and 6, 1943, that had been “constituted in reprisal for an attack”, that “these reprisals were […] an operation that
led 2,000 Jews to annihilation. Indeed, two days after the attack on February 13th that cost the lives of two German officers [on the Pont Royal in Paris, facing the Louvre], Ernst Achenbach, head of the political section of the German Embassy, telegraphed to Berlin: ‘As a first measure of reprisal, it is planned to arrest 2,000 Jews and to deport them to the East. Achenbach’ .” p. 386. LL.
The painting of Léon Weissberg • 29