Starting October 2nd 2018 – The Suțu Palace

The thematic exhibition “Avant-garde – Rearguard. From the premises of Romanian avant-garde to the power of socialist realism” awaits its visitors at the Suțu Palace (2 I.C. Brătianu Blvd), starting on Tuesday, October 2nd.

The Bucharest Municipality Museum has prepared this new show as a continuation of the series of exhibitions organized by the Bucharest Pinacotheque. The Art Department presents a patrimony compendium that is meant to illustrate and clarify the conceptual connotations of avantgarde and rearguard in Romanian art. We plan to set out on an adventurous journey through time, on a road going both directions, in order to analyze the complexity of this artistic and literary modernist phenomenon which marked the interwar mentality – the avantgarde: both the premises of its emergence in the Romanian pre-war space and its evolution during the interwar period, as well as the echo produced by the avantgarde in the arts of the following period, ideologically governed by socialist realism, when between the `60s and `70s we witnessed a formal and thematic „return” to the principles promoted by the historical (interwar) avantgarde – rearguard, thus a return to the tradition of interwar avantgarde aesthetics.

The first trajectory is directed towards identifying the first Romanian dissident artistic manifestations in history that rebelled against the official structures, and which established the premises and prepared the field for the assimilation of new art, with the purpose of synchronizing the principles of Romanian art (still very young) with those of western art. We will discover manifestations of Munich’s symbolism connected to the independents of Ileana (starting with 1896), and echoes of German expressionism around the First World War, a modernist manifestation that aimed to express into matter the tragic and the spiritual crisis produced by political and economic reasoning. The settling of the Romanian avantgarde basis was largely due to Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s futurist manifesto published in “The Democracy”, on February 20th 1909 also published in Romanian, and enthusiastically welcomed by many Romanian artists.

Romanian avantgarde, together with the international avantgarde, was met with hostility in traditionalist groups, both during the interwar and the postwar periods. The emergence of anti-Semitic policies forced many of the Jewish avantgarde artists, to emigrate: Marcel Iancu, Victor Brauner or Jules (S.) Perahim. Although initially the avantgarde was welcomed with sympathy by the left because of its common social ideals (art had to respond to the needs of the working class), as some of the avantgarde artists were members of the communist party, after the Second World War the avantgarde was dissolved when communist ideology was implemented, as it was considered decadent, bourgeois and hostile to the working class.

The second trajectory follows the stylistic route of interwar avantgarde artists during the communist regime, a case study being dedicated to Max Herman Maxy, a versatile artist who managed to adapt to the political realities of his time: he move from constructivism to socialist realism imposed by the regime, returning to (neo)constructivism in the `60s. Another study will analyze the relationship of ideas between the master, in this case Nicolae Tonitza, and the apprentice, Corneliu Baba, detailed in the comparison of two works that approach a similar subject and manner of work – The Harlequin, in different periods: the interwar art, with expressionist influences, and the echo it produced during the socialist period.

Through a vast selection of paintings and graphic art works from the collection of the Bucharest Pinacotheque, the exhibition illustrates the perpetual “World as a stage”, a manifesto dedicated to the stylistic evolution of Romanian avantgarde.

We would like to thank the Romanian Academy for granting us the right to reproduce the cover of the magazine “Literary Pages – The Intellectuals Group” authored by Nicolae Petrescu Găină, and belonging to the patrimony of this institution. We also thank the Jewish Community Federation of Romania for agreeing to lend us an important work of Victor Brauner, as well as the National Museum of Romanian Literature for granting us the right to use images from the avantgarde magazines owned by this institution.

A project organized by the Bucharest City Hall through the Bucharest Municipality Museum.