Biography

During the 1970s Professor Weisberg curated The Etching Renaissance in France: 1850-1880 (1971); Social Concern and the Worker: French Prints from 1830-1910 (1973) and Images of Women: Printmakers in France from 1830-1930 (1977). These shows expanded awareness of thematic and contextual issues affecting nineteenth century printmakers.

At the same time his interest in the theme of Japonisme led to co-organizing Japonisme: the Japanese Influence on French Art, 1854-1910 (1975) for The Cleveland Museum of Art. This exhibition was the first show to examine several aspects of the Japanese influence in the west by focusing on paintings, prints and the decorative arts to demonstrate a cohesive impact to this influence.

In 1980, also for The Cleveland Museum of Art (and other museums), Dr. Weisberg organized the large painting and drawing exhibition The Realist Tradition, French Painting and Drawing, 1830-1910. This show helped redefine the parameters of the Realist movement by moving away from sole concentration on Gustave Courbet to see how many other artists - then little appreciated or studied - also made use of a realist style and thematic material that was intricately linked with the history and social concerns of the era.

During the next decade Professor Weisberg maintained his interest in realism by pursuing other aspects internationally and redefining the international context for naturalism. In a series of books and exhibitions these issues were addressed. In The European Realist Tradition, edited by Weisberg (Indiana University Press, 1982) the larger and broader context of realism was studied in a series of perceptive essays by international authors from the academic and museum communities.

In 1979, with the publication of Bonvin (Paris, 1979), the position of François Bonvin (1817-1887) was firmly established in the art of the Nineteenth-Century and he was seen, again, as a purveyor of a seventeenth century Dutch taste combined with an interest in the works of Jean-Simeon Chardin. As the principal expert in assessing François Bonvin's work, Weisberg is often consulted by dealers, collectors and auction houses throughout the world.

At the close of the 1980s, Weisberg acted as a consulting curator for the exhibition The Art of the July Monarchy, France 1830 to 1848 (organized by the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia). This show, generously funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, effectively redefined the ways in which artists and printmakers responded to the era of Louis Philippe.

By 1992, Weisberg further extended interest and study on the naturalist painters - both avant-garde and academic - in his book Beyond Impressionism, The Naturalist Impulse (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1992). In isolating the various naturalist painters in several countries - including Eastern Europe and Scandinavia - Weisberg effectively revealed how many artists, of all camps, responded to the utilization of photography to heighten their sense of naturalistic detail. Further interest in the July Monarchy was found in a group of essays, edited with Dr. Petra T.D. Chu and published as The Popularization of Images, Visual Culture under the July Monarchy (Princeton University Press, 1994).

Along with an interest in realism and naturalism, Weisberg has researched and published on a host of issues and artists linked to the Symbolist and Art Nouveau movements. In 1986 he curated for The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Art Nouveau Bing, Paris Style 1900 (published jointly with Harry N. Abrams, 1986). This show led to the rediscovery of the importance of Siegfried Bing (1830-1905) as the principal promoter of art nouveau design in Europe and to the reappraisal of such artists as Georges de Feure, Edward Colonna and Eugène Gaillard. The reappraisal of these artists is still continuing today.

Weisberg's commitment to art nouveau led to his becoming a principal advisor on Peinture et Art Nouveau, l'Ecole de Nancy (for the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy, 1999) and to his contributing to the exhibition Art Nouveau, 1890-1914, organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London with essays to the catalogue on "The Parisian Situation: Hector Guimard and the Emergence of Art Nouveau" and "Moulding Wood: Craftsmanship in Furniture".

In recent years, while expanding on the impact of Japonisme in other locations (e.g. Japonisme Comes to America, The Japanese Impact on the Graphic Arts 1876-1925, 1990) Dr. Weisberg has devoted considerable attention to issues surrounding the recognition, reception and contributions of the academic painters of the nineteenth century. He worked with the Musée des Beaux Arts, Bordeaux on their Rosa Bonheur exhibition in 1997; his contribution was later expanded in his essay for the catalogue published by the Dahesh Museum (New York) on Rosa Bonheur in 1998.

As curator for the Frick Art and Historical Center in Pittsburgh, Weisberg discussed the importance of the French academic painters and their reception both in Pittsburgh and the United States revealing that such artists as Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret and Emile Friant. This led to a discussion of these artists in Collecting in the Gilded Age, Art Patronage in Pittsburgh, 1890-1910 (Frick Art and Historical Center, 1997).

Weisberg has prepared an exhibition and publication on the little known French academic painter P.A.J. Dagnan-Bouveret (Against the Modern: Dagnan-Bouveret and the Transformation of the Academic Tradition, The Dahesh Museum of Art and Rutgers University Press, 2002). Further evidence of his interest in the ways in which academic art has been taught and transmitted was found in a traveling exhibition he organized with the Trust for Museum Exhibition (1995-96) called Redefining Genre. French and American Painting 1850-1900 (with an essay by Dr. Petra T.D. Chu) and in an exhibition co-curated with the Dahesh Museum (New York) on the Académie Julian, a theme discussed in Overcoming All Obstacles, The Women of the Académie Julian (published by the Dahesh Museum and Rutgers University Press, 1999).

As an educator interested in helping researchers better understand a period or movement, a series of bibliographic references and essays were also prepared. These included The Realist Debate, A Bibliography of French Realist Painting, 1830-1885 (Garland Publishing Inc.,1984), co-authored with Yvonne M.L. Weisberg; Japonisme: An Annotated Bibliography, (Garland Publishing Inc,1990), co-authored with Yvonne M.L. Weisberg and Art Nouveau, A Research Guide for Design Reform in France, Belgium, England and the United States (Garland Publishing Inc., 1998), co-authored with Elizabeth K. Menon.

Dr. Weisberg was Guest Curator for The Origins of L'Art Nouveau, the Bing Empire, an exhibition organized with the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam) and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Paris) for November, 2004. This large-scale exhibition of paintings, prints, and decorative art objects continued to examine the entrepreneurial and patronage contributions of Siegfried Bing (1838-1905) the peripatetic art dealer who promoted both Japonisme and Art Nouveau on a worldwide basis. The exhibition compared art nouveau pieces against significant examples of Japanese art that Bing either sold or collected in order to reveal ways in which one area - Japanese art - influenced the other. The exhibition, after opening in Amsterdam, moved onto the Villa Stuck (Munich) and the Caixa Foundation (Barcelona) before ending its run at the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Brussels). A detailed catalogue/book The Origins of Art Nouveau, The Bing Empire authored by Weisberg along with his colleagues Edwin Becker and Evelyne Possémé, among others, was published in six separate language editions and was distributed world-wide. In the United States the publication was  distributed by Cornell University Press.

The Bing exhibition and catalogue/book was widely reviewed in the international press. Articles examined the issues raised by the exhibition itself, while further returning Siegfried Bing to a place of genuine importance in the pantheon of impressive tastemakers and entrepreneurs at the end of the nineteenth century.

Weisberg has also worked closely with Professor Laurinda Dixon (Syracuse University) in assisting the publication of a series of essays for a volume on "In Sickness and in Health: Disease as Metaphor in Art and Popular Wisdom" (University of Delaware Press, 2004. Another volume of essays: Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, edited by Professor Weisberg was published by Rutgers University Press, (2001).

As Reviews Editor for Nineteenth Century Art World Wide (19thc-artworldwide.org)" Dr. Weisberg has been involved with an electronic periodical that is helping to revolutionize the field of international nineteenth century studies. Appearing twice a year, the reviews examine significant exhibitions and books revealing the wide diversity of publications throughout the field.

Dr. Weisberg has worked with The Oklahoma City Art Museum on The Artist as Narrator, Nineteenth Century Narrative Art in England and France (2005) preparing an essay for the catalogue on "The Narrative of the Fields and Streets: Nineteenth Century Rural and Urban Imagery". This catalogue was distributed by the University of Washington Press. As an outgrowth from the Bing exhibition, Professor Weisberg edited a special issue of Nineteenth Century Art Worldwide on "Art Nouveau and Siegfried Bing" which appeared in the summer, 2005. He also contributed an essay "Lost and Found: Reconstructing S. Bing's Marketing of L'Art Nouveau" to the same issue of the electronic journal.

Dr. Weisberg also worked with the Portland Museum of Art on the exhibition Paris and the Countryside: Modern Life in Late Nineteenth Century France. This exhibition opened in June, 2006; Weisberg wrote the essay on "The Urban Mirror: Contrasts in the Vision of Existence in the Modern City" for the accompanying catalogue which was distributed by the University of Washington Press. In a similar vein (although he also served as Co-Curator) he worked with the Oklahoma City Art Museum in preparing Paris 1900 with an accompanying catalogue that examined the pertinent themes in painting, prints, sculpture and the applied arts that made Paris the center of attention at the end of the nineteenth century. His essay "The Print Culture of Paris 1900," was included in this publication distributed by the University of Washington Press. As an outgrowth of his interest in Japonisme, Dr. Weisberg published "Japanese Art on a Plate, an unknown masterpiece of French Ceramic Design" in Apollo Magazine (London), September, 2006. This article brought back to prominence a large ceramic table service by Henri Lambert completed in 1873 and which, startlingly, and in rich color, employed numerous motifs from a wide-range of Japanese prints.

A continuing interest in contemporary realist painters led Weisberg to prepare an essay on Harvey Dinnerstein. This article, "Harvey Dinnerstein, A Traditionalist for the Future," appeared in a book on the artist published by Chronicle Books in San Francisco, during 2008. An exhibition of Dinnerstein's paintings was held at the Frey-Norris Gallery in the same city.

As part of his long-standing commitment to Naturalist painting Dr. Weisberg served as Guest Curator for the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam) on a large international painting exhibition known as Illusions of Reality: Naturalist Painting, Photography and Cinema, 1875-1918. The exhibition opened in October 2010 at the Van Gogh Museum where it demonstrated how a number of painters created their large-scale paintings using photography as an aid for the basis of their compositions. In a similar vein, these paintings also influenced the direction of early cinema in Europe and the United States. A detailed catalogue was published in six different language editions with essays by Dr. Weisberg, Edwin Becker, Curator of Exhibitions at the Van Gogh Museum, Willa Silverman, Pennsylvania State University who contributed an essay on "Staging Naturalism" and David Jackson, Leeds University, England who prepared a seminal essay on "Russian and Nordic Naturalism". The book was widely disseminated, receiving excellent reviews and attention in the international press. The exhibition moved onto the Ateneum (The Finnish National Museum in Helsinki, Finland) where it was also exceptionally well received both by a receptive public audience and by the critics in the press.

Concurrently Dr. Weisberg also organized a new exhibition on Japonisme for the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, Mississippi. Opening in early 2011, the exhibition proved to be exceptionally popular with the public; a second venue was held at the Koogler-McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas. This exhibition, entitled The Orient Expressed: Japan's Influence on Western Art, 1854- 1918 had an extensive catalogue edited by Dr. Weisberg and included essays by Petra ten-Doesschate Chu (Seton Hall University), Laurinda Dixon (Syracuse University), Elizabeth Mix (Butler University, Indianapolis), Sarah J. Sik (then at University of South Dakota) and Erica L. Warren (now Assistant Curator, Art Institute of Chicago). The catalogue was widely distributed by the University of Washington Press gaining a number of significant reviews and selling exceptionally well throughout the world.

In recent times Dr. Weisberg has served as Guest Curator and principal author and editor for Breaking the Mold: The Legacy of the Noah L. and Muriel S. Butkin Collection of Nineteenth-Century French Art for the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame. This exhibition, and the accompanying catalogue, examined the collection given to the Snite by Noah and Muriel Butkin collectors of nineteenth century art who also left a large part of their collection to the Cleveland Museum of Art. The exhibition catalogue, distributed by the University of Washington Press, provided essays on the formation of the collection, on how the collection was presented to the Snite Museum of Art and detailed catalogue entries on each work selected for the exhibition either from the Butkin donations to the Snite or those to the Cleveland Museum of Art. The essays and catalogue entries are by Dr. Weisberg, Kirsten Appleyard, Heather Lemonedes (Curator of Drawings, The Cleveland Museum of Art), Janet L. Whitmore (then at Harrington College of Art and Design, Chicago) and Sarah J. Sik (then Assistant Professor, University of South Dakota).

With Yvonne Weisberg, a contribution of an essay was made to the Charles Milcendeau, 1872-1919 exhibition catalogue that accompanied a major retrospective of this artist's work held at the Historial de la Vendée, Les Lucs-sur-Boulogne, France. The exhibition provided ample evidence for the importance of Milcendeau as a creative force whose training in the academic studio of Gustave Moreau prefaced the development of a very significant career as an artist dedicated to the life of the peasants in the Vendée, and in Spain, in the region near the city of Ledesma, and Corsica.

Considerable research work was expended in the publication of three essays. The first, "From the Real to the Ideal: Photography and the naturalist tradition in the career of Eanger Irving Couse" was published in Van Gogh Studies 4. It grew out of a lecture that Dr. Weisberg presented at the Van Gogh Museum when he was the Van Gogh Museum/University of Amsterdam visiting scholar in the Spring, 2010. Other essays have appeared in French publications accompanying major museum exhibitions including "La Constitution du Naturalisme: Quand la Photographie entre en scène" in À L'Epreuve du Réel: Les peintres et la Photographie au XIXe siècle, an exhibition catalogue published by the Courbet Museum, in Ornans, in June, 2012.

In 2014, acting as editor of A Taste for Porcelain, the Virginia A. Marten Collection of Decorative Arts, Weisberg oversaw the publication of the catalogue at the Snite Museum of Art (University of Notre Dame). Assisted by Elizabeth Sullivan and Rachel Schmid, this publication placed the Snite collection within a historical context. Also, in 2014, Weisberg's essay of the American painter Robert Blum was published with a series of essays dedicated to Japonisme by the University of Rennes. His long-standing interest in Japonisme studies has led to his becoming the Managing Editor of the "Journal of Japonisme", which is published electronically and in hard copy by Brill in Holland (see the flyer about this on our site).

Acting as Guest Curator and Co-Editor Dr. Weisberg spearheaded the large-scale show on Japonisme in Scandinavia. Called Japanomania in the Nordic Countries, this exhibition opened at the Ateneum in Helsinki in February, 2016 prior to a tour to Oslo and Copenhagen. This is the first international examination of Japonisme in Scandinavia and it involved all of the primary museums and curators in this region. Weisberg has also continued to do extensive primary research on the career and performance activity of Jane Avril, the well-known personality immortalized by Toulouse-Lautrec. His work on her, and the sites where she performed, was part of an extensive series of essays published in France in 2015 under the editorship of Sabine Chaouche.

Over the last fourteen years Weisberg has worked closely with Brad Radichel to help him establish a collection of late nineteenth century French and Belgian naturalist painters. This grouping is featured in a large-scale publication Toward a New 19th Century Art where essays by Radichel, Janet Whitmore and Weisberg examine the works in this collection through essays and catalogue entries that help contextualize the works. The catalogue is being distributed by ACC Publishing Group.

Weisberg continues to publish reviews of books and exhibitions in 19th-cenury art worldwide.org and he continues to write essays on 19th century art such as "Léon Bonvin's Realism" to be published in SOURCE in 2016.