Biography | Vladimir Weisberg Foundation

BIOGRAPHY

Vladimir Weisberg was born in Moscow on 7 June 1924.

His work evolved logically and is a good fit for the chronology of the post-war years.

From 1943 to 1948 he studied in the studio of the artist Sergei Ivashev-Musatov. He visited the studios of Ilya Mashkov and Alexander Osmerkin, who had been members of the Jack of Diamonds group. In the 1940s and 1950s, Weisberg studied the experience of Moscow’s ‘Cezannists’, who brought to Russia the best traditions of European colourism. Like many twentieth-century artists, Weisberg considered Cezanne one of his teachers. The young Moscow painter was primarily interested in Cezanne’s idea (and that of his international followers) of bringing together in his work ‘plein air’ and ‘the museum’, or the direct impression and its analysis.

Based on the experience of Cezanne, who had noticed that at a certain stage of work, the forms and colours on his canvases became unrecognisable, Weisberg realised that the duration of work on a painting was directly connected to the self-destruction of form and colour. The artist went deeper, and his painting acquired a new quality — the space constructed itself, dissolving forms.

In the early 1960s, Weisberg went through a short abstract period. He overcame the opposition of the figurative and the abstract in his work fairly quickly. The intervening minimalist period was fruitful, as the artist solved an important methodological problem. He limited his ‘plein air’ vision using the strict framework of sketches. Despite taking a long time to create, his works began to give the impression of being made in a single session.

Compositions using crumpled newspapers and fabric appeared in Weisberg’s oeuvre in the mid-1960s and had disappeared for good by the 1970s. In this short period, he made around 15 such works. The artist found various artistic solutions for a single task — to express the interrelationship between complex volumes in space. The breaks in the newspaper pages were like the peaks and precipices of a mountain landscape.

From the mid-1970s, the artist began to focus on a regular format and size for his compositions. This was mostly an almost square canvas where the longer side was around 50 cm. In that period Weisberg finally settled on genres and his iconography became recognisable: the portrait; the classical Weisberg nude in which absolute form gradually disappears, dissolving in absolute space; the still life made up of white objects with a variable combination of geometric, sculptural and natural forms. Compositions with dried flowers were an occasional motif. For the artist they were a metaphor of his entire oeuvre — chaos transforming into cosmos through the construction of space.

The 1970s and 1980s were a time of perfecting colourism, making Weisberg’s paintings a remarkable phenomenon of twentieth-century art. His famous ‘white’ is a combination of tiny amounts of colour, a consequence of the dizzying complexity of colour relationships. His paintings ‘dematerialise’, with objects becoming unrecognisable and spaces losing differentiation. His later works are true to the artist’s words, as recalled by his interlocutors: ‘If people were not people but God, they would not see objects’. They would have the ability to contemplate absolute harmony.

VLADIMIR
WEISBERG

Painter, graphic artist, teacher, art theorist

(7 June 1924, Moscow – 1 January 1985, Moscow)

1943–1948 Studied at the Fine Art Studio of the All-Union Central Committee of Professional Unions under Sergei Ivashev-Musatov

From 1956, visited the studios of Ilya Mashkov and Alexander Osmerkin. Participated in exhibitions

From 1961, Member of the Union of Artists of the USSR

1964–1968 taught painting on Moscow television courses

Taught his own colouristic system of painting in his studio

1956–1984 Participated in the Moscow youth, spring, autumn and anniversary exhibitions

Took part in exhibitions of the Moscow group of ‘nine’ (‘eight’) (Moscow, 1961; Leningrad, 1962; Moscow, 1966; Moscow, 1973)

Author of the theoretical work “Classification of the Main Types of Colouristic Perception”. The paper was read at the Symposium on the Structural Study of Sign Systems at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1962

His first solo exhibition in the USSR took place in 1988, after the artist’s death

SOLO
EXHIBITIONS

1975
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. An exhibition of works by Vladimir Weisberg from the collection of Jan Rauchwerger

1977
Kupferstich-Kabinett, Dresden

1979
Tel Aviv Museum of Art

1984
Galerie Basmadjian, Paris

1988
Moscow Section of the Union of Artists Exhibition Hall, Ulitsa Vavilova, Moscow

1994
State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

1994
State Museum of Urban Sculpture, St. Petersburg

1997
Angelikos Gallery, Moscow

1998
Zimmerli Art Museum (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, USA)

2002
The Weisberg room opens at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts (Private Collections Department)

2006
Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

2014
In Love with Classical Art. Paintings and Works on Paper by Vladimir Weisberg from Russian Museums and Private Collections, In artibus Foundation, Moscow

2019
Nothing but Harmony. Vladimir Weisberg from the Collections of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art and Inna Bazhenova, In artibus Foundation, Moscow