Willy Eisenschitz

1889 1974
(Autriche) 1889 /   (France) 1974

Willy Eisenschitz is encouraged into his vocation by his father, an open-minded and liberal lawyer. Soon, he drops out of the Fine Arts of Vienna to go work in Paris where he stays at his uncle Otto Eisenschitz, brother in law of Henry Bergson and fond of arts.

In 1912, he enrols in the Academy of the Grande Chaumière where he meets a young female artist, Claire Bertrand. It is the beginning of a relationship that will lead to a wedding in 1914. If Central Europe has been his main source of inspiration as an emerging painter, Paris, the canal Saint-Martin and the south of France will build the basis of his future inspiration.

Landscaper above all, he will be little influenced by the revolutionary pictorial movements around in Paris at the time; however he will absorb some of the post-war calmed Cubism by using some geometrised shapes. 

In 1914, Eisenschitz leaves for Vienna and spends the major part of the war in a civilian internment camp. His wife meets him there and gives birth to two kids. For health-related reasons, Eisenschitz settles down in Lucerne and shows his paintings there as well as in Zurich.

In 1920, the couple comes back to Paris, and then discovers the south of France in 1921 before visiting Florence and Assisi in 1922.

Because of his health problems, the painter is forced to live in the mountains. He therefore settles down in Mollans and in Dieulefit in the Drôme (French region).

In 1926, his personal show at the Joseph Billiet gallery will be the stage for his first State-bought painting.

In 1927, Eisenschitz settles down in Valette-du-Var, near Toulon (France), with his wife and the old convent of the “Minimes”.

In 1929, he travels to Spain and to the Balearics Islands.

In 1931, victim of shoulder arthritis that prevents him from using his right arm, the artist will paint watercolours showed with great success in 1932 at the Billiet-Worms gallery.

In 1935, Eisenschitz is naturalised French. He keeps on travelling throughout Spain and will illustrate three books of Jean Giono: The true riches, The death of wheat, Entrance of spring (de luxe edition at Ph. Gonin). During the Second World War, Eisenschitz comes back to Dieulefit where intellectual refugees gather. His son, David, enrols in the Resistance. He is arrested and deported in 1944. At the end of the war, Eisenschitz shares his time between his trips and his exhibitions in Paris, Toulon and Marseille. He is systematically inspired by the environment around him.

A year before his death, a retrospective is organised at the House of the Culture of Amiens.

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