Zack Leon (1892 – 1980)
Leon Zack was born in Nijny-Novgorod, Russia, in 1892 and studied literature in Moscow while frequenting private art schools.
His first master was Jakimchenko, a painter who had worked under the influence of French Impressionist painters. He then studied with Rerberg and Machkoff who had been one of the founders of the « Jack of Diamonds » group.
In 1914 he participated in exhibition TOVARISHCHAM VOINAM ("Artists for the Friends Fighters"), Moscow. Among the participants: Aristarkh Lentulov, Ilya Repin, Kazimir Malevich, Nikolay Rerich, Petr Konchalovsky, Robert Falk.
In 1917 L. Zack took part in VYSTAVKI KARTIN I SKUL'PTURY KHUDOZHNIKOV-EVREEV ("Paintings and Sculpture by Artists-Jews") Moscow. Among the artists: Isaac Levitan, Lev (Leon) Bakst, Mane-Katz, Chagall, Natan Altman.
He got married in 1917 before leaving Russia for Rome and Florence where he lived until 1921. He then went to Berlin in 1922 and worked for the Russian Theater.
Zack moved afterwards to Paris where he exhibited his works at the Salon des Indépendants and in various galleries. Influenced by his Jewish roots he notably produced many Biblical scenes but decided to become a Christian.
He took part in many exhibitions from 1926 and was listed in the « Neo-Humanist » group of painters with Christian Bérard, Pavel Tchelitchev and Eugene Berman who were advocating a return to reality in opposition to Cubist trends.
During the Second World War Zack sought refuge in an Alpine village and came back in 1945 to Paris where he exhibited his works in many Salons.
He then modified his style turning to abstraction finding that the subject was playing no specific role while tones and forms could express all the feelings he wanted to bring.
Zack took part in several exhibitions in Brussels, London, Venice, Copenhagen, Oslo, Dublin, Basel and Koln and continued to produce theatre and ballet decors and book ilustrations.
However Zack became increasingly interested in sacred art and produced many stained glass works for several churches in France. He also created religious sculptures and reliefs.
Zack’s lyrical period started in 1955 through an evolution of signs and forms which made him one of the pioneers of cloud effects. He once said he liked empty spaces the deepness of him being underlined by the presence of forms becoming increasingly material. He also pinpointed the importance of light in his works using tone values to this effect and approaching the watercolour technique.
Works of Leon Zack in TATE Gallery, London.
Books Illustrated by Leon Zack:
Stendal. Le Rose Et Le Vert.
Anton Tchekov. Contes.
Voltair. La Princesse de Babilone.