Léon Indenbaum

1890 1981
(Belarus) 1890 /   (France) 1981

Léon Indenbaum’s father was a lace dealer who died prematurely. Different members of the family took care of his five children. Léon was raised by his grandfather, a popular art book binder.

Léon Indenbaum went to the heder until he was thirteen years old. He then studied at a traditional school, where he learned how to work the wood. His director noticed his talent and offered him a scholarship to study at the School of Fine Arts in Odessa. There, he worked the clay and carved wood. He then studied at the Antonolski Art School in Vilnius.

He was fascinated by the stories that he heard about the artistic atmosphere in Paris. With the help of an engineer from Vilna, he arrived in Paris in 1911 and settled at Mietschaninoff’s studio at La Ruche. He lived at the second floor, near Chagall’s studio, and then moved to Volovick’s. 

From 1911 to 1919, Léon Idenbaum studied sculpture under Antoine Bourdelle at the Grande Chaumière. Bourdelle liked him and called him “my young protégé”. In 1912, three of his sculptures were exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants. At that time, he made friends with Modigliani. Indenbaum hosted the latter before helping him settle in the adjoining studio.

Léon Indenbaum’s first patron was the famous fashion designer and collector Jacques Doucet. He produced several panels for him until the crash of 1929. He also created sculptures for the decorator Coard and for the couturier Paul Poiret. He also worked for the brothers Georges and Marcel Bernard, bankers and collectors, until they were ruined in the crash of 1929. 

In 1925, he exhibited with success two sculptures at the Salon des Indépendants, a young woman’s bust and a woman lying down. Léon Indenbaum was not much sociable and hated advertisement. He worked discreetly, and believed that an artist should not care to be famous and should not be distracted by society life.

During World War II, he hid from the Nazis. Many of his works disappeared or were destroyed. Following the war, Indenbaum continued to work and remained discreet.

He died at his daughter’s house in Opio, France.