December 14, 2011

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

Tristan Tzara, Victor Brauner, Marcel Janco, M. H. Maxy, Arthur Segal, Jules Perahim, Paul Paun 
Jewish Avant-Garde Artists from Romania 
Israel Museum, Jerusalem 
Through February 18, 2012

This exhibition at Israel Museum traces the artistic development of seven Jewish artists from Romania – 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. After a successful presentation at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, Jewish Avant-Garde Artists from Romania brings to Israel for the first time ninety works, created between 1910 and 1938, that explore the question of center and periphery, and illuminate the role of Jewish artists in the avant-garde movement.

Victor Brauner
To my beloved Saşa Pană, 1930
Courtesy of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

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 Paun. 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.

Jewish Avant-Garde Artists from Romania was organized by the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, and curated by Radu Stern and Edward van Voolen. At the Israel Museum, the exhibition is organized by Adina Kamien-Kazhdan, David Rockefeller Curator of the Stella Fischbach Department of Modern Art.

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