MIRACULOUS HEALINGS – MARCEL IANCU (1895 – 1984)

The Bucharest Municipality Museum cordially invites you to attend the exhibition dedicated to Marcel Iancu, from August 5th to October 4th at the Suțu Palace. The exhibition features a series of artworks belonging to the artist which were restored in the museum’s restauration studio.

Quantity does not replace quality in art. Democracy was banful for art. Marcel Iancu

Painter, graphic artist, illustrator, scenographer, architect, urbanist, lecturer and commentator on current issues of art, Marcel Iancu was also an influential figure, an extremely dynamic animator in areas of his practice, promoter of a modern and subtle vision, oriented toward emancipating creative energies from the risk of limitations and marginalization (provincialism, apathy, laziness, gregarious opportunism) and preoccupied to remove anything that might diminish the chances of Art to respond to the exigence of authentic values and communication with a large audience.

Geo Șerban – Meetings with Marcel Iancu

Marcel Iancu, born on May 24th 1895 in Bucharest in a wealthy Jewish family, is remembered in the history of art as the co-founder of the Dada movement and an important representative of Eastern Europe Constructivism. During high-school he studied painting with Iosif Iser and it was during that time when, together with Tristan Tzara (Samy Rosenstock) and Ion Vinea (Ion Iovanaki), published the Simbol magazine (1912) where he debuted as a graphic artist. In 1914 he went to Switzerland to study mathematics, but one year later decided to study architecture instead with Karl Moser, a course which he graduated from in 1917, at the Polytechnic Academy in Zürich. Here he joined a group of artists made of Hans Arp, Tzara, Viking Eggeling, Hans Richter, Richard Huellsenbeck, Huho Ball, his wife, Emmy Hennings and took part, on February 1916, in the opening of the famous Cabaret Voltaire – the center of the Dada movement. This is where he often attended the group’s meetings, having the task to create the scenography and costume designs.

During this effervescent time he created posters, masks, illustrations, scripts, essays and lectured on themes of the artistic avant-garde. In 1917 he attended the first dada exhibition at the “Dada Gallery” in Zurich with Arp, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Klee and Tzara. At Basel he became a member of the Das Neue Leben (The New Life) group, made of Arp, Fritz Baumann, Augusto Giacometti, Oscar Lüthy, Otto Morach and Sophie Tauber, and the following year founded the Radical Artists group together with Hans Arp, Baumna, Viking Eggeling, Emmy Hennings and Hans Richter, a group that wanted to reject individualism in art.

After the Parisian period (191 – 1921) he gradually detached himself from the Dada movement and the surrealist tendencies. His abandonment of the Dada happened when this movement turned into a recipe, the same way that he had previously opposed the merging of Dada and surrealism. His natural tendency of going beyond the norms, of adopting the newness, opposed the gratuitous and extravagant nihilism and thus became an avant-garde artist who chose rigor and professionalism, a perfectionist who intrigued his artistic contemporaries.

In 1922, he returned in Romania with the artistic experience earned around Paul Klee, Hans Arp, Arthur Segal, M.H. Maxy, Victor Brauner, Georges Braque, André Breton or Jean Cocteau, and became one of the most important promoters of the avant-garde in our country. He joined the Contimporanul group (1924 – 1936), led by poet Ion Vinea, a group that edited an eponymous magazine. He also took part in heterogeneous avant-garde groups such as Art Nouveau (1929 – 1932), The Group of Art and Criterion (1933 – 1937) that counted other artists such as M.H. Maxy, Victor Brauner, Hans Mattis Teutsch, Corneliu Michăilescu.

Together with Vinea and Maxy he organized the first Contimporanul international exhibition, opened in Bucharest on November 1924 and attended by great figures of European avant-garde such as Paul Klee, Hans Arp and F.T. Marinetti.

Simultaneously, Marcel Iancu asserted himself as an architect and designed the first modern houses in Bucharest. Influenced by cubism and constructivism, he gave up on symmetry and historic ornaments and opted for innovative elements such as the simple façade, terraced roofs, porthole windows, glass walls and painted walls, discontinuous lines and sliding doors.

In order to support his innovative ideas he published the manifest book “Towards an architecture of Bucharest” (1935) together with Horia Creangă and Octav Doicescu.

Between 1922 and 1938 he designed more than 40 buildings, mostly one-family houses, such as Fuchs Villa on Negustori Street, Herman Iancu House on Trinității Street (where he also lived for a while), Bazaltin House or Juster House.

A complete artist, painter, graphic artist, architect, interior and furniture designer, essay writer and active seaker of the new arts, Marcel Iancu practically connected Bucharest to the most important artistic movements in Europe. In 1941, when the anti-Jewish law started to be enforced in Romania, he left the country together with his family and moved to Palestine. Here he asserted hismelf as a teacher and artist by the name of Marcel Janco and significantly contributed to the cultural progress of young Israel. After his rich European experience, Marcel Iancu’s presence was highly important for Israelian art, as he became one of the country’s most important artists: he opened 30 personal shows in Tel Aviv, Haifa, New York, Paris, Zurich, Basel, Milano and took part in the Vennice Biennal in 1952.

As a hired architect in the urbanism department of Tel Aviv and then the Ministry of Labour, he also coordinated construction sites and designed national parks. He taught painting in various institutes of art and in 1953 he founded the Oranim College Department for Art Teaching; he also worked as a scenographer at Habimah Theatre.

In 1948 he was one of the founders of the new artistic movement New Horizons and in 1953 founded the Ein Hod collony of artist.

Some of the awards for his accomplishments are the Dizengoff awards of Tel Aviv in 1951 and 1967 and the Independent Israel National Award for his entire artistic career.

One year before his death in 1984, in Ein Hod a museum carrying his name was founded – the Janco Dada Museum.

The exhibition introduces the public to new artworks, four of which are part of the museum’s Pinacotheque and were restaured during the Miraculous Healings project, coordinated by the Restauration Laboratory of BMM. Three other paintings belong to the Ligia and Pompiliu Macovei collection and one painting belongs to the private collection of Ioan D. Popa, restaurer and head and of BMM Restauration-Conservation Department.

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