Jewish Avant-Garde Artists from Romania at Israel Museum, Jerusalem


The Romanian Cultural Institute in Tel Aviv and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem  organise the exhibition “Jewish Avant-Garde Artists from Romania at Israel Museum from November 11, 2011-April 14, 2012.

Artists: Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, Victor Brauner, M. H. Maxy, Paul Paun, Jules Perahim, Arthur Segal
Curator: Radu Stern and Edward van Voolen;
Curator-in-Charge at the Israel Museum: Adina Kamien-Kazhdan

The exhibition of 90 works of Jewish avant-garde artists from Romania, created between 1910 and 1938, explores the question of center and periphery and illuminates the role of Jewish artists in the avant-garde. Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco played a crucial role in the development of Dada, co-founding the anti-establishment Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, and Victor Brauner was a leading force in the Surrealist movement in Romania. Works by these artists, as well as by M. H. Maxy, Paul Paun, Jules Perahim, and Arthur Segal, seen outside of Romania for the first time at the organizing venue of this exhibition, the Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam, are now revealed at the Israel Museum.

Tristan Tzara, Victor Brauner, Marcel Janco, M. H. Maxy, Arthur Segal, Jules Perahim and Paul Paun – who, in the early decades of the twentieth century, took the art world by storm through their fearless experimentation.

During World War I, Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco were central to the development of Dada in neutral Zurich, in venues such as Cabaret Voltaire. Back in Romania in the 1920s, Tzara and Janco, together with Victor Brauner, M. H. Maxy, and Arthur Segal, were involved in the publication of avant-garde magazines Contimporanul, 75 HP, Punct, and Integral, and organized the First International Art Exhibition of Contimporanul.

The 1930s brought a younger generation of artists into the conversation, such as Jules Perahim and Paul P?un. New avant-garde magazines Unu and Alge were introduced, and Bucharest became a central point of activity in the Surrealist movement. Jewish Avant-Garde Artists from Romania explores Segal’s Neo-Impressionist art, Tzara’s Dada experiments, Brauner’s Surrealist works, Janco’s masks, landscapes, and genre scenes, Maxy’s growing interest in social themes, and the involvement of Jules Perahim and Paul Paun at the forefront of Surrealism, shedding light on the central role these artists played in the history of European avant-garde art.

The Romanian art scene in the early twentieth century, and particularly the contributions of artists of Jewish origin, have previously received little serious study by art historians, due to the deeply ingrained anti-Semitism of the Eastern Bloc at the time and in the decades that followed. This exhibition underscores the long-neglected importance of Bucharest tin the development of the European avant-garde, and explores the relationship between Jewish identity and radical modernity.

“The first-ever Dada event took place in the Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, on 5 February 1916. Among the protagonists were the poet Tristan Tzara, born Samuel Rosenstock in Moinesti, Romania (1895), and the artist Marcel Janco, born in Bucharest (1895). Also in contact with the Dada group were Arthur Segal, born in Jassy (1875), who, a few years later, would have a student in Berlin called Maximilian Herman, known as Maxy, born in Braila (1895). A little later, they would all meet Victor Brauner, born in Piatra-Neamt (1903), a major figure in surrealism, and then Jules Perahim, born in Bucharest (1914), one of the second-generation surrealists. All were Romanian Jews.”
(excerpt from The Guardian, From Dada to Surrealism – review by Philippe Dagen;)

The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections, including works dating from prehistory to the present day, in its Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Jewish Art and Life Wings, and features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world. In just forty-five years, thanks to a legacy of gifts and generous support from its circle of patrons worldwide, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects, representing the full scope of world material culture.


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