Margareta Sterian. Donation of Mircea Barzuca
Ever since she was a student, Margareta Sterian has shown a special ability to capture, in her art, the essence of reality. During this period, the painter participates in the sociological research from Drăguș, a very important event of cultural investigation, with a strong echo at the time. The research was conducted under the coordination of Professor Dimitrie Gusti; Margareta Sterian copies popular stitches and old icons, and photographs people in the area. She made her first personal exhibition in 1929, with an important series of peasant portraits, causing a sensation. It was a debut made under the best auspices, and the art critics noted the personal imprint and the originality of the young artist’s style.
Between 1930 and 1937 Margareta Sterian collaborated with Marcel Iancu and worked on frescoes and ceramics of some private homes in Bucharest. During this period the artist created several ceramic compositions: Adam and Eve, David the Victor and other original ceramic vessels. For some of these houses, Milița Petrașcu made the sculpted decoration.
In 1932 Margareta participated in the first exhibition of the group Arta Nouă, together with Maxy, Milița Petrașcu, Micaela Eleutheriade, Olga Grecianu, H. Daniel, Cornelia Babic Daniel, Lucia Dem Bălăcescu, etc.
In 1933 Margareta Sterian exhibited her works in the Criterion group, together with Maxy, Marcel Iancu, Ionescu Sin, H.H. Catargi, Petre Iorgulescu-Yor, Corneliu Michăilescu, Micaela Eleutheriade, Henri Daniel, and Cornelia Babic Daniel. In the same year, together with Milița Petrașcu, Marcel Iancu, Maxy, Nina Arbore, Olga Greceanu, Mac Constantinescu and Octav Doicescu, she exhibited her works in the Romanian modern art exhibition at the Palace of the National Exhibition of Futuristic Art in Rome, under the auspices of Marinetti, an event praised by the Italian newspapers Il Piccolo, Il Mesaggero, La Provincia and La Tribuna.
The following year, in 1934, Margareta Sterian continued the participations in the exhibitions of the avant-garde group, together with Lucia Dem Bălăcescu, Cornelia Babic Daniel, Micaela Eleutheriade, Marica Rîmniceanu, Milița Petrașcu, Henri Catargi, Marcel Iancu, Maxy, Corneliu Michăilescu, P. Iorgulescu-Yor, Vasile Popescu and Aurell Kessler.
The painter will take part in the third Contemporanul exhibition in 1935, held at the Mozart Hall, together with H.H. Catargi, Marcel Iancu, Maxy, H. Daniel, Cornelia Babic Daniel, Corneliu Michăilescu and a group of foreign artists, prestigious names in the modern art: Eugène Berman, Walter Becher, Giorgio de Chirico, Léonor Fini, Philippe Hosiasson, Filippo de Pisis, Pavel Tchelitchew and Léon Zack.
The avant-garde, in the case of her art, manifests itself in the clearest sense of the term; with much refinement, Margareta Sterian overturns established traditions in academic art. In this revolution of artistic perception, she starts from a feminine perspective of looking at reality, from a romantic sensitivity displayed without restraint. In the creative act, the artist is a painter and a writer, enhancing a poetic synthesis of the realities that surround her.
Margareta Sterian does not copy the art of the avant-garde leaders, with whom she is friends, but starts from her own path, which means the full expression of her own personality. The innovative vision of art continues throughout his life. The painter’s creation reflects her subjectivity more and more accentuated in the perception of reality, the artist wanting to find the poetry of reality she then expresses in drawing and painting.
In 1943 Margareta Sterian translated Eugene O’Neill’s trilogy, “Mourning becomes Electra”, printed by Pro-pace Publishing House, and reprinted twice: at Socec Publishing House (1945) and Publishing House for Universal Literature, in 1968. The play was staged successively with the most important actors of our scenes. Margareta Sterian provided the theaters with the necessary documentation for the productions and carried out decoration and costume projects in tempera.
In 1945 Pro-pace Publishing House published a volume of poems by Walt Whitman, translated and illustrated by Margareta Sterian. In 1947 the Anthology of modern American poetry: I hear America singing was published by the State Publishing House for Literature and Art, a selection and translation by Margareta Sterian, with an introductory study by Petru Comarnescu.
All these preoccupations of the painter demonstrate, once again, the complexity and value of her work and of the donation offered to the Bucharest Pinacotheque ‒ part of the Bucharest Municipality Museum.
Dr. Elena Olariu, Deputy Director of Art, Restoration, Conservation