Cr it ic ism
LYDIA HARAMBOURG The beginnings are marked by a workmanship in finesse, monochrome research and an interiorized Expressionism, as demonstrates the portrait of his friend Zborowski, or still, the one of that young Femme au renard (Woman with Fox). A firm and enveloped drawn line that structures a palette based on ochers and earth colors. Comes next a more violent period with colored and sober landscapes. [...] A great freedom of stroke upsets the composition. Nervous strokes work in the thickness of the matter. The colors become gems, as in the landscapes of suburbs where he sets up his portable easel (Arcueil, Bagneux). The light transcends the most innocent subject. The nearly palpable light of the landscapes [...] harmonizes with reality, while it transfigures almost lovingly the feminine models in the portraits of a curvaceous nudity. The clown reappears, the laugh becomes fixed. A mystical profundity is revealed. The silent mystery that inhabits his models of the beginning intensifies in violence, and a workmanship that is properly speaking, carnal. “Fervent of color”, as Philippe Soupault has stressed, Weissberg transforms a street in a suburb, a visage, into luminous enchantment… [...] Life triumphs over death. […] He figures among the great painters of the École de Paris such as Chagall, Soutine, Kikoïne and Krémègne, with whom he is near, plastically and in spirit. Excerpts from “Léon Weissberg”,
LAURENCE IMBERNON Léon Weissberg, an active member of the École de Paris [...], is above all a master of drawing and color. And the chromatic force of his painting is also the first intermediary of a work with a spiritual thrust, saturated with the sense of the being, of the intimate. [...] We can affirm just how much this pictorial expression of the color is profound and lasting in his production. His thriftiness of color – it is the lesson of Van Gogh to whom the Expressionists acknowledge their debt. His portraits – this is quite perceptible – unite collections of greys, ochers and browns, or pinks and greens, for example, which we will find throughout the whole composition of the painting, lit up and softened by whites or a hint of blue for the Fillette au petit bouquet (Girl with a Small Bouquet, 1928). We are far from Fauvism. In its place, an otherworldliness flows over from each painting. Excerpts from Léon Weissberg, pour une peinture spirituelle.
Catalog for the exhibition Léon Weissberg, une retrospective, Denys-Puech Museum of Fine Arts, Rodez, France, 2002-2003. Laurence Imbernon, Curator, was the coordinator.
ALEXANDRE GRENIER Of all the great painters of the École de Paris (from Chagall to Krémègne, Kikoïne or Soutine, with whom he is pictorially close), he was probably the most discrete. Hailed by Soupault, the somber Weissberg was nevertheless certainly one of the purest among them. An itinerary [...] that was emblematic of those painters coming from the East to live their art in Paris. In these works can be found at once the joy of the painter and all the distress of their condition. The too rare work of Weissberg must be respected so much it is characterized by great honesty and an exemplary modesty. Excerpts from “Léon Weissberg”,
Pariscope, June 10-16, 1998.
La Gazette de l’Hôtel Drouot, January 8, 1999 and March 21, 2003.
234 • Criticism