Peisaj dobrogean (Dobrudjan Landscape). Victor Brauner, Bucharest or Paris, 1928–1937. Oil on canvas. (© 2006 Artists Rights Society [ARS], New York / ADAGP, Paris. Image courtesy of Mariuca Stanciu)

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Brauner, Victor

(1903–1966), painter and graphic artist. Born in Piatra-Neamț, Victor Brauner grew up in a wealthy family in which artistic expression was encouraged (his father was a photographer). From 1919 to 1922, Brauner studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bucharest and began to travel in avant-garde circles that included Ilarie Voronca, Marcel Iancu, Ion Vinea, Max Hermann Maxy, Stephan Roll, and Claude Sernet (Mihai Cosma).

In 1924, Brauner had his first personal art exhibit in Bucharest. Between 1924 and 1933, he participated in displays of the Contimporanul arts group and at the same time contributed to Romanian avant-garde publications, including Punct, Integral, Unu, and Contimporanul. He was the director of the constructivist magazine 75 HP, in which he published the Pictopoezia (“pictopoetry”; a term coined by Romanian members of the avant-garde) manifesto with Ilarie Voronca. In 1925, Brauner taught at the constructivist arts workshop known as Integral.

Brauner moved to Paris in 1929. After meeting André Breton and Yves Tanguy, he associated with the suprarealism movement, and in 1933 participated in the Supraindependents Salon. In 1934, Breton organized a preview for Brauner’s first exhibition in Paris. Brauner then returned to Bucharest for a brief period (1935–1937), where he joined the young generation of avant-gardists, among whom were Jules Perahim, Gherasim Luca, Gellu Naum, and Saşa Pană. He became a member of the Romanian Communist Party, but left immediately after learning of the Moscow Trials.

Brauner settled permanently in France in 1938. In 1940, he took refuge in the south of that country and began to experiment with encaustic techniques. In 1945, he returned to Paris. He participated in the International Exhibition of Suprarealism in 1947, and in 1966 represented France at the Biennial in Venice.

Victor Brauner’s work is dominated by the features of suprarealism; at the same time, he remained a major promoter of the avant-garde in Romania. His constructivist works of 1921–1933 are close in style to those of Iancu and Maxy. Brauner often illustrated both avant-garde publications and Jewish cultural reviews, including Adam and Puntea de Fildeş.

Beginning in the 1930s, and possibly resulting from the rise of Nazism, Brauner incorporated new elements into his suprarealist mode. He drew features from Romanian folklore and developed a personal allegoric iconography with symbolic meanings. An esoteric Jewish dimension also emerged in his style, enriched by kabbalistic motifs that derived from the Hasidic ambiance typical of the Moldavian towns in which Brauner had spent his childhood.

Suggested Reading

Sarane Alexandrian, Les dessins magiques de Victor Brauner (Paris, 1965); Dominique Bozo, Victor Brauner (Paris, 1972); Bucureşti, anii 1920–1940: Între avangardă şi modernism (Bucharest, 1994); Amelia Pavel, Pictori evrei din România (Bucharest, 1996); Amelia Pavel, Victor Brauner (Bucharest, 2000).



Translated from Romanian by Anca Mircea