Construction, beech wood (1943). © All rights reserved
1941 Until April. Residence at Mont-Louis. Isabelle Waldberg receives letters from Patrick Waldberg, from friends in exile, and from those who are worried about her fate such as Kahnweiler and Louise and Michel Leiris. The artist feels very lonely, further exacerbated by the departure of the Massons to New York on 31 March.
May. Moves to Tocane-Saint-Apre (Dordogne), to the Hotel Reyssie.
20 July. Leaves for Marcheille with her son. Cannot rejoin Patrick, as new rules for visas are in force. Dreams for a moment of moving to Cagnes-sur-Mer, with Sylvia Bataille and Jacques Lacan.
30 July. Return to Tocane-Saint-Apre. Cannot stay as she had planned in Lyon or Marcheille as she has not got the residence permits demanded by the authorities. As the situation deteriorates, Isabelle Waldberg requests a return visa to Switzerland.
13 September. Arrives at her sister Hedwige Monnier's, who lives in Gümlingen, on the west outskirts of Bern (34, Alpenstrasse).
December. Isabelle and Michel Waldberg move into the Farner family home in Wilen.

1942 During the first half of the year, Isabelle Waldberg stays with her parents. She takes up sculpture in plaster again, applying plaster in layers directly to a framework ('plâtre direct') and finishes several works representing female nudes (only one survives).
Beginning of March. Bad fall on the stairs, the aftereffects of which she will feel for a long time.
Beginning of July. Isabelle Waldberg and her son leave Wilen for Lisbon via Wintherthur, Geneva, and Madrid. Visit the Prado.
6 July. Arrival in New York. Marriage to Patrick Waldberg in Newark in the state of New Jersey.
The family moves into an apartment with a big room that serves as a studio. The place is light and well-located (18 East 57th Street, New York).
September. Patrick Waldberg leaves New York for London, where he is sent on assignment for the Office of War Information. He is sworn to secrecy about his activities.
Autumn. Isabelle Waldberg sees the First Papers of Surrealism exhibition (14 October-7 November) organised by André Breton and Marcel Duchamp at 451 Madison Avenue. She takes up her sculpting activities again.
December. Completes portraits, small and medium-size nudes and a work in plaster representing the Minotaur

1943 Naturally joins the ranks of the community of exiled intellectuals, many of whom are Patrick Waldberg's friends. André Breton, Georges Duthuit, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Nina and Robert Lebel are among these.
February. First attempts at abstract sculptures encouraged by André Breton et Robert Lebel who are the only ones who see them.
Meetings and evenings with the VVV team in April to celebrate the March publication of the Almanac for 1943 (numbers 2-3); Marcel Duchamp designs the cover.
May. Recollection of the Palais à quatre heures du matin ('Palace at 4 a.m.') (seen seven years earlier in Giacometti's studio), that influences her production of objects created in wood, glass and string.
July-August. Permanently abandons making figurative compositions in plaster. In turn Matta admires the objects made of wooden sticks and string that Isabelle Waldberg calls constructions.
Trip with the Lebels to the north of Boston in New England. They visit the museums of Boston, Harvard and Salem. Isabelle Waldberg notices the masks and the sculptures of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. In the ethnological museum in Salem, the artist discovers nautical stick charts, maritime maps made of curved and straight sticks which show the passages to follow and the currents to avoid to the navigators of the Marchhall islands. The atolls were shown by means of seashells. Aside from their ethnological interest, these two-dimensional objects attached to the wall reminded her of her own recent work. 'There must have been a flash of inspiration or to have really searched for something, in order to have found through these maps what I received from them.'
Stay on Coney Island and Staten Island.
September. Upon her return to New York Isabelle Waldberg obtains beech wood rods in a little hardware shop where she finally finds the ideal material. These sticks are called 'dowels'. Making of a bas-relief. Development from this moment, to a process of putting the rods in boiling water. They are then put into shape before being attached to the holds. The artist makes wall constructions and suspensions characterised by a 'geometrising' style. Robert Lebel, inspired by these works, writes a poem, Masque à lame ('Razor Mask'), which follows the days of the week and the rhythm of seven constructions by Isabelle Waldberg.
With Robert Lebel, Georges Duthuit, and André Breton, she regularly visits the little antique shop discovered by Max Ernst (which Claude Lévi-Strauss also refers to), called Julius Carlebach, on 943, Third Avenue: 'We were thrown into a poetic atmosphere of Eskimo masks; we breathed Alaska and we dreamed Tlingit and we loved each other on the totem poles. Carlebach on Third became the meeting of our desires.'
Photographs for the book with Robert Lebel were taken by Bramer, a German refugee.
Plan for a Swiss exhibition, organised by Robert Lebel, that would bring together Hodler, Klee, Seligmann, Giacometti and Waldberg. Two objects displayed at Kébélian's.
Visit to the ethnographic museum in Philadelphia.
November. André Breton asks Isabelle Waldberg if he can publish the letter from Patrick Waldberg calling into question their experience with Georges Bataille in VVV, a magazine run by David Hare and Lionel Abel. The artist then writes to her husband: "Of course I will make sure all the names, except Bataille's, André Masson , etc. where the activity was public, and all references to the details of the rites are taken out". Yvan Goll agrees to publish 'Masque à lame' with Editions Hémisphères.
End of the year. After completing fifteen objects, the sculptor undertakes large constructions (1.30 m), on wooden pedestals. Masson breaks with the Surrealist group. Publishing of Masque à lame is delayed, as the authors are not satisfied with the printing.

1944 Preparation of n° 4 of VVV where a photograph of Isabelle Waldberg amongst her constructions appears. Max Ernst worries about the abstract and non-Surrealist character of her objects. Even so, Breton invites Isabelle Waldberg to join a group exhibition of theirs in the window displays of Fifth Avenue. 'From now on I am part of the Surrealist group without having asked them'. (24 January 1944. Letter to Patrick Waldberg). 19 February. Opening of the 'Color and Space in Modern Art since 1900' exhibition organised by Robert Lebel at the Mortimer Brandt Gallery (36 paintings and 10 sculptures and constructions spread over 3 rooms). The first is dedicated to the Duchamp family: Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Jacques Villon and Marcel Duchamp – the latter displays Les joueurs d'échecs, 1910 ('The Chess Game', 1910); Le passage de la vierge à la mariée, 1912 ('The Passage from Virgin to Bride', borrowed from Walter Pach) ; and a Boîte-en-valise ('Box In A Suitcase'). Each room is dedicated to sculptor: Duchamp-Villon (with 'Baudelaire', 'Les Amants', 'Le Chat', 'Le Cheval'), Calder ('Cage Within A Cage', 'Morning Star', 'The Red Wand'), and Isabelle Waldberg, who displays large freestanding constructions on pedestals (1.50 and 2 meters), dated from 1943: La Prise de la Bastille ('The Storming Of The Bastille'), L'Antenne totémique ('The Totemic Antenna') and Mask ('Mask'). Peggy Guggenheim encourages an architect working for 'Look' magazine to commission a work from her, before acquiring L'Antenne Totémique for her personal collection.
26 February. Masque à Lameprinting complete, is sold at Brentano's and in all French bookshops in New York.
21 March. VVV comes out (even though the number is dated for February). The letters of Patrick Waldberg, Robert Lebel and Georges Duthuit are grouped under the title: 'Vers un nouveau mythe ? Prémonitions et défiances' ('Towards A New Myth? Premonitions and Distrust'), with an illustration by Matta (who would also design the cover) preceding it, and the photograph of Isabelle Waldberg put in the centre of the article
Waldberg attends Claude Lévi-Strauss's course on British Columbia, with the Lebels and Matta. Research in the Columbia University Library on Eskimo and Hopi art.
11 April. First Exhibition in America of Twenty Paintings, group exhibition organised by the Art of This Century Gallery; Peggy Guggenheim commissions a large construction from Isabelle Waldberg for this exhibition. Among the works of Braque, Dali, Max Ernst, Kandinsky, Léger, Masson, Matta, Miró, Motherwell, Picasso, Pollock, Rothko and Tanguy, Isabelle Waldberg displays Intervalles des fusées (Rocket Intervals'), objects two metres tall on a plinth. Meets Tanguy at André Breton's home.
From May to June. The Spring Salon for Young Artists takes place at the Art of This Century Gallery. Admission to the Salon is decided by a jury comprising Marcel Duchamp, Jacqueline Lamba, David Hare and J.J. Sweeney. After perplexed consideration, Isabelle Waldberg chooses to display one of her first constructions called Araignée ('Spider').
July. Returns on her own to visit Boston, Harvard and Salem museums, whose collections had been thestarting point for her 'renewed interest in ethnography'. September. Peggy Guggenheim suggests to Isabelle Waldberg that she have a solo show. The artist moves away from her geometric style by inventing a new process of bending the dowels. She stretches the material by pressing it to make the ideal forms, managing to avoid splitting the rods. The constructions become more supple, animated by a continual movement created by this gestural technique.
Autumn. After a start to the year disturbed by a few interpersonal conlicts, the Surrealist group gathers again around André Breton. Isabelle Waldberg is invited by the author of Arcane 17 to a reading, for a select group, of his work.
11 December. Preview of Isabelle Waldberg's first solo exhibition at the Art of This Century Gallery. The artist had asked Rudolph Ray – painter friend of Marcel Duchamp – to display a few canvases with her. Amongst the new constructions are notably: 'Land's End', 'Portrait of the Comic Bard', 'Arawak Cavalier', 'The Screwdriver' and 'l'Instrument de musique pour André Breton' ('The Musical Instrument For André Breton'). Inspired by a quotation from Poisson soluble ('Soluble Fish'), this object had been thought up during the summer of 1944 and would be given to Breton who would accept it 'with notable zeal'. Apart from the sculptures reproduced in Masque à lame, Isabelle Waldberg displays Palais stratagème (Palace Stratagem'), whose title pays tribute to Giacometti.

1945 6 January. End of the exhibition. Several articles have been published in the US press hailing the Isabelle Waldberg exhibition in Art Digest, The New York Times, Art News, as well as France-Amérique (in French).
13 March. European Artists in America, exhibition organised at the Whitney Museum which gathers the works of European artists in the United States since 1938. The event is dominated by the Surrealists. Isabelle Waldberg does not appear in the catalog but displays 'Land's End' in a room reserved for drawings. However, her work does not escape the critic Léon Kochnitzky who ends his column with her in issue number 2 of View.
End of March. Window display at the time of the launch of Arcane 17 at Brentano's. Marcel Duchamp, Isabelle Waldberg, Enrico Donati, Matta and André Breton take part. The sculptor makes a jellyfish-inkstand in plaster together with a feather; Marcel Duchamp deals with the fitting of the window and displays a mannequin.
9 November. New window display in honor of the second enlarged edition of André Breton's Surréalisme et la Peinture ('Surrealism and Painting') at Brentano's. Marcel Duchamp puts the construction Toujours là bel aqueduc ('Beautiful aqueduct, still there'), created by Isabelle Waldberg, in full view in the middle of the window
16-17 November. Isabelle Waldberg and her son leave New York. At Boston they board a boat on its way to Le Havre. The artist, after staying there a while, prepares to return to France and has boxes made in order to transport her constructions.
Arriving in Paris, she is temporarily hosted by friends. She then moves in to rue Caulaincourt. She regularly visits the Café de Flore where she finds her prewar friends: Bataille, Giacometti, Chavy, Chenon, Hessel, Wahl, Fraenkel, Louise and Michel Leiris.

1946 Mid-January. The elders of Acéphale meet with the aim of setting up a new review; Bataille – who lives in Vézelay – makes a few appearances in Paris. Isabelle Waldberg has resumed her artistic activity and made three constructions. Asks Patrick Waldberg to send her beech rods from New York. The artist divides her time between her studio and preparation for the Da Costa review. Visits Brancusi who shows her his sculptures. Moves to the Hôtel Libéria, rue de la Grande-Chaumière.
December. Readings, at the Hôtel Libéria, of articles written for the review.

1947 January. Marcel Duchamp leaves Paris for New York, leaving Isabelle Waldberg his studio, 11 rue Larrey. Patrick Waldberg stays in Sedona (Arizona) with Max Ernst. In Paris, the Da Costa committee puts texts to the vote in an atmosphere which is occasionally charged
18 February. Private exhibition, Galerie Jeanne Bucher, 9 ter boulevard du Montparnasse. This event is inextricably linked to the ongoing experience of Da Costa. Indeed, Isabelle Waldberg and Robert Lebel want to translate the lively provocation and the free spirit contained in their writings into action. Paraphernalie ('Paraphenalia'), with its learned title, unites fourteen constructions from the americal period baptised in the same virulent and derisive spirit. Robert Lebel pushes his preface "Préallégations" ('Preallegations') to the point of the absurd, while keeping a classical appearance. He signs in the name of Désiré Nisard, of the Académie Française. On the front of the page, the "Témoignages" ('Witnessings') are freed under pseudonyms such as Don Evaristo Perez De Castro y Colomera, Saint-John Perse, Vicaire Général, Rose P. Connolly, and Washington D.C.

1948-1951 Transposition of a number of constructions in wood into iron; new constructions are directly made in iron. The new ones are distinguished by being most abstract, similar to the work of the Concrete Art group ('l'Art concret'). Max Bill asks the artist to exhibit with the Allianz group au Kunsthaus in Zürich.
In 1949, for the Premier Salon de la Jeune Sculpture, Isabelle Waldberg would choose nonetheless to display two large constructions in wood: Finisterre ('Finisterre') (2.50 meters) and Larmier de style ('Style Dripstone') (1.50 meters). It is only in 1950, for the Ve Salon de Mai, that the artist exhibits, with Sculpturanienne ('Sculpturanienne'), her new work. Finally, in the IIe Salon de la Jeune Sculpture, a month later, Monument disponible ('Monument Available') confirms the transition to working in iron. For the soldering of these objects, Isabelle Waldberg gets in touch with Robert Jacobsen and Shinkichi Tajiri, who are developing in the same direction. The three sculptors would meet to carry out the finishing touches, exchanging their knowledge.

1952 7 March. exhibition at the Galerie Henriette Niepce. The artist invites her friend Jean-Paul Riopelle to display canvases with her. Robert Lebel writes a humorous preface on the artistic scene, entitled "Essuie-Glace". Apart from the iron constructions, watercolors are displayed on the picture rails.
June-July. For the exhibition Peinture surréaliste en Europe, Isabelle Waldberg – the only sculptor to be invited – offers five objects in iron: Le Point de mire ('The Focus'), Borne maritime ('Maritime Boundary'), Elle l'écartèle ('She tears it open'), Mouvement au Nord ('Movement to the North'), and Menada ('Menada') (reproduced in the catalog). On this occasion, Max Clarac-Sérou, then French editor the Florentine Review Numero arte e letteratura, publishes an important article on Patrick Waldberg about this event. The Galerie Nina Dausset becomes the meeting place for the New York friends, such as the Waldbergs, the Lebels, Georges Duthuit, the Surrealist artists, but also Max Clarac-Sérou who would take over the gallery in 1955.
October. Nina Dausset puts Isabelle Waldberg in charge of organising new exhibitions with her. Thus the first is devoted to the Fauves, then to masters of drawing, to naïve painters and naïve art, to Gustave Moreau
December. Writes a critical text on the Salon des Surindépendants in Numero's columns.

1953-1954 Continues her activity with the Galerie Nina Dausset. Separates from Patrick Waldberg. Publication in the Numero review of an article on "Essor de la sculpture anglaise" ('Development of English Sculpture'). Isabelle Waldberg refers to the Venice Biennale and to the Galerie de France exhibition to write a discerning study on Moore, Butler, Armitage, Chadwick, Turnbull, Adams, Paolozzi, Meadows and Clarke. The text is supported by illustrations of recent works.
December. Isabelle Waldberg exhibits her iron constructions on Suzanne de Coninck's request, among fifteen sculptors at the Galerie Verneuil.

1955 July. The artist takes part in the Exposition internationale de la Sculpture en fer : Eisenplastik that takes place at the Berne Kunsthalle. A. Rüdlinger helps to display two of the artist's constructions on plinths which feature amongst the works of artists such as Calder, Chillida, Jacobsen, Krickle, Lardera, Schœffer, Tinguely, Uhlmann, Chadwick, Clarke and Thornton. At the same time, the Salon Comparaisons opens, where the artist is invited for the first time.

Biographical points of reference are excerpts from 'Appareil critique' by Marie Voisin.
Publication details in Monographs and general works.
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– biography 1941 to 1955 –