Alumnus remembers Brandeis faculty star Léo Bronstein
By Arnie Reisman '64
Before his words haunted me, his eyes did. Maybe it was because I couldn’t really see them. They were shaded in mystery behind tinted glasses. Yet they must have been dancing. He was the most animated college professor I ever had. Léo Bronstein. Even his first name flared with an accent aigu.
He taught me all about ancient art history at Brandeis. Born in 1902 in a part of Russia that today is Poland, he spoke at least nine languages, all of them no doubt with fingers flying. He spoke with passion, with an infatuation for his subject and an eagerness to explain. He reacted to every presented slide as if he had not seen it before. In a reverie, he would point out “the blueness of the blue” or “the archness of the line.”
His hair was made wavier from his hands running through it, and he usually wore a tweed jacket, pressed slacks and an ascot. But there was no ego here, just humility before the world’s art archive of nobility, beauty and design. He believed that exquisite taste spoke for itself. He was just the tour guide, not the arbiter.