Avant-garde art from Romania  24 March 2011

From dada to surrealism

A magnificent survey exhibition of Jewish avant-garde artists from Romania will open at the Jewish Historical Museum (JHM) on 1 June 2011: From Dada to Surrealism, with more than seventy works of art from the period 1910-1938. Most of these works have never been on display before in the Netherlands, or anywhere outside Romania.

In the 1920s, artists such as Victor Brauner (1903-1966), Marcel Janco (1895-1984), and Max Herman Maxy (1895-1971) astonished the public with their fearless experimentalism. Surrealist, abstract, and expressionistic works, picto-poetry, and personal variations on Constructivism - nothing was too radical for them. Along with fellow artists like Arthur Segal (1875-1944), they were present at the birth of an influential avant-garde movement.

In 1924, Brauner, Janco, and Maxy introduced the Romanian public to modern art from Europe for the first time. They came into the public eye again later through their contributions to well-known magazines like 75 HP, Punct, and Integral. The exhibition From Dada to Surrealism presents the rise and development of a range of Jewish artists from Romania, highlighting Segal's Neo-Impressionist art, Brauner's Surrealist works, Janco's portraits, landscapes, and genre scenes, and Maxy's growing interest in social themes.

Developments on the Romanian art scene in the early twentieth century have received little serious study. Because of the deeply ingrained anti-Semitism of the Eastern Bloc at the time and in the decades that followed, art historians shied away from publishing research on artists of Jewish origin. As a result, their work long remained underappreciated in the West. The Jewish Historical Museum is now offering the public an opportunity to discover the unique achievements of these avant-garde artists. The exhibition From Dada to Surrealism: Jewish Avant-Garde Artists from Romania, 1910-1938 underscores the long-neglected importance of Bucharest to the European avant-garde and explores the relationship between Jewish identity and radical modernity. The exhibition will run until 2 October 2011.

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