You are on page 1of 56
etro-garda Culorile avangardei nu este 0 expozitie cu adevarat dedicata avangardei, nici macar aceleia complexe si con- tradictorii din Romania. Vazuta din avanposturile puriste, aceasta expozitie este aproape neloiald. Nu numai cd se deschide cu opere modemniste din jurul anilor 1910, cu ‘mult anterioare aurorei dadaiste europene, declangat de lelunatice de la Cabaret Voltaire, dar se siincheie cu montaje pseudo-avangardiste, socialist-ealiste, ulterioare anului 1950, mult dupa ce avangarda istorica propriu-zisi expirase oficial. Mai mult, grosul expozitiei este rezervat unui amestec de modernisme molcome, de la simbolism la un post-mpresionism clasic, traditional, atins de cézannism, de la constructivism la suprarealism sau la un fel de expresionism ce gliseazd armonios spre Neue Sachlichkeit, realismul corporatist al unei obiectivtsti supraincércate ideologic. In pofida faptului c& pozit politice ale acestor orientari erau teoretic antagonice, este izbitoare recurenta unor teme iconografice proeminente, ce conecteazi intre ele artisti, opere si evenimente aparent situate la polii opusi ai aceleiasi scene artistice locale. Dar tocmai aceasta este miza expozitiei. Mai degraba decit sd se concentreze pe o abstragere i extrapolare pedanté, purist, a operelor de avangarda din ‘mediul lor istoric ~din ansamblul divers si bogat al artei din Roménia in prima jumatate a secolului XX- expozitia de fata survoleaza un fenomen istoric si cultural deosebit de dens si complex, acela al coabitari,tensiunii,discordiei si modelariireciproce a modernismului, avangardismului 4itraditionalismului in perioada interbelicd. Nu din intim- plare aceasté expozitie are loc la Muzeul de Istorie din Sibiu. Culorile avangardei este o expozitie mai degraba Retro-gardes Colours of the Avant-garde is decidedly not an exhibition completely and wholeheartedly dedicated to the avant- garde, nor even to the complex and contradictory Romanian avant-garde. Viewed from purist, advanced avant-garde outposts, this exhibition is almost disloyal. Not only does it set out from modernist works of the 1910s, long before the dawn of European Dada through the agency of the lunatic proceedings at Cabaret Voltaire, but it also ends with pseudo-avant-garde, socialist-realist collages produced in 1950s, long after the official expiry of the historical avant-garde proper. Moreover, the very bulk of the exhibition is assigned to a mixture of various kinds of mellow modernisms, ranging from Symbolism to a Cézanne-tinged classical and traditional Post- Impressionism, or from Constructivist to Surrealist and even somewhat belated Expressionist and Neue Sachlichkeit-like works. Despite the fact that most of their ideological standpoints were theoretically opposed, one is struck by the unexpected recurrence of prominent iconographical data that link together apparently uncon- nected artists, works and events, situated at opposite poles of the same art scene, But ths is precisely the point decit de istoria artei. Nu oferd o prezentare analitici, un tablou comprehensiv al evenimentelor artistice de pe par ursul citorva decade. Dimpotriva, doar puncteazé citeva fenomene semnificative, actiuni si reac hat nu numai aparitia anumitor formule ale artei locale Careacterisitice pentru perioada interbelica, ci sideconcer- tanta evolutie de dupa cel de-al doilea rézboi mondial, din timpul regimului comunist. Mersul artei dinspre diversele formule de impresionism sau simbolism catre expresion- ism si post-impresionism si de aici catre abstractionism gi constructivism sau traditionalism si suprarealism, de pe Parcursul anilor 1920-1930, urmat de aparent paradoxala unificare a firelor supravietuitoare dup 1947 in sprijinul realismului socialist, nu poate fi urmarit decit printr-o ‘asemenea juxtapunere de opere si cariere ce au impartait ‘nu doar aceleasi timpuri, ci si o sum de credine, dar mai ales deprinderea de a pune in scen8 conflictul, concomi- tent cu respectarea regulilor si acordului Estetismul ca fixatie Cele mai importante caracteristici ale evolutiei artei moderne in Romania, in prima jumatate a secolului XX, ga cum sint ele punctate de Culorile avangardei, ar fi dez- voltarea elipticd, contradictorie, hibridizarea, practcile compromisorii si dorinta voluntara de a reflecta cursul cultural si social al epocii. In afara acestora mai exist’ o trdsaturd exterioard, ce invaluieste toate aceste miscari si tendinte diverse, de la simbolism la constructivism side la traditionalism la suprarealism, respectiv estetismul,starea de jubilare si de epatare artistic’ de suprafata ce unifica modemismele din Romania indiferent de ritul $i orien- tarea lor ideologic’. In ciuda ideologillor asumate conflic- tual, in ciuda vocatillor provocatoare ori conventionale, multitudinea de modernisme, avangardisme _ si traditionalisme are un loc comun central: folo: triumfala a culorii, pentru o proliferare ceremonial de ‘opere si obiecte de arta bine mestesugite, indeosebi picturi. In ciuda culorii politice sau etnice prin care se deosebeau, diversele curente au trasat un cimp de lupta tunic, acela al unei productii profesionale si tot mai constiente de sine a unor marfuri colorate numite opere de arta. Aceasta pare sé fie niga societala a tuturor, punctul de insertie socialé alocat artstilor, o sursa de perpetua responsabilitate dar si de orgoliu, o deschidere spre piats dar si concomitent o sarcina dificil, toxica uneori. Aceasta trasatura, estetismul ultim al artel locale, dincolo de relevanta socialé, arata cd si cea mal radicalé avangarda din Roménia a fost lteralmente un fenomen al suprafetel, avind nu evenimentul drept finalitate a sa, ci tabloul de la ‘capatul tunelului nonconformist. In acest fel, nclestarea of the exhibition, Rather than focusing on a pristine, pedantic extrapolation of avant-garde works from their historical milieu — the diverse and rich art scene of Romania of the early twenti- eth century — it presents a cohesive view of an intricate cultural and historical phenomenon, that is, the cohabita- tion, tension, discord and reciprocal shaping of modern- ism, the avant-garde and traditionalism in the inter-war Period. Itis not by chance that this exhibition is being held in the Museum of History in Sibiu. Colours of the Avant-garde is a historical rather than an art-historical exhibition. It does not aim to provide an analytical presen tation, a comprehensive tableau of the artistic events of a few decades. On the contrary, it highlights some of the significant movements and reactions that determined not only the patterns of the local art world during the first half of the twentieth century, but also its apparently discon- certing development in the second half of the century, Under the communist regime. The progress from early Symbolism to Expressionism, and thence to either Abstraction and Constructivism or Traditionalism and Surrealism during the 20s and the 30s, followed by the apparently paradoxical process of the surviving lines re- Uniting after 1947 in support of Socialist Realism, can only be fathomed through such a juxtaposition of works and careers, which shared not only the same period but also subtly inter-connected beliefs used to acting out conflict, but observing accord. Aestheticism as a fixation The main features of the decades-long developments of modern art in Romania in the fist half of the twentieth century, as pinpointed by Colours of the Avant-garde, are elliptical, contradictory evolution, hybridization, compro- mising practices and its wilful mirroring of the political and economic course of society. Besides these, there is also an external, all-encompassing feature, which binds together the divers movements and trends, from Symbolism to Constructivism and from Traditionalism to Surrealism, namely the cheerful, fundamentally aesthetic ‘mood that particularizes Romanian modernisms of every extraction, Notwithstanding their assumed, conflicting ideologies, their provocative or conventional vocations, the multitude of modernist, avant-garde and traditionalist trends partake in a jubilant use of colour, ina ritual prolif- eration of well-crafted artworks, above all. paintings. Despite the ethnic and political colours that separated them, the different artistic trends outlined a common battleground, namely the increasingly self-conscious, pro- fessional production of coloured commodities called ideologic’ a fost reificaté, transformata chiar intr-un stil productiv destinat si fie mai competitiv pe piafa arte Respectul pentru opera de arta implinité, chiar batator la ‘chi de finisata estetic, aduce impreund multi si foarte diferiti artisti majori de pe scena artei din Roméania, precum Brancusi, Hans Mattis-Teutsch, Theodor Pallady, MH. Maxy, Corneliu Michailescu, lon Theodorescu-Sion, Francisc Sirato sau Victor Brauner. $i totus, aceasta fixatie esteticd nu a fost produsul unei gindiri instrumentale constiente. Ea reflect o mai adinca trasaturé a civilizatiei autohtone care, laacea vreme, era inca recent si incomplet modernizats. Romania fusese abrupt si voluntar modemizata in ultimele decade ale scolului al XIX-lea Resturi ale vechilor mentalitati si comportamente erau {inci omniprezente, atit in cultura si politicd, cit si in ‘economie si societate. Discrepantele erupeau din timp in timp. Una dintre acestea s-ar putea reflecta in aceasta fixatie estetic a artei_ produse in Romania i jumatate a secolului XX, in ciuda coliziunii flamboiant regizate cu miscarile de avangarda precum futurismul sau dadaismul. Acestea din urma urmareau si destructureze ‘tocmai estetismul letargic si perimat. Estetismul amprenta un modernism jnchistat, incapabil si depageascd 0 Pozitionare primordial mestesugaresca fata de faptul artistic. Cu aceasta punere estetizanta in scena a avangar- dei, modernizarea culturala si social in Romania interbelica si-a extins si atins limitele. Se poate spune, de aceea, cd productia de avangarda in Romania interbelicd, teprezinté implinirea finala a modernismului, a modernizarii sociale, dar nicidecum o rupere de ritm cu. mize culturale gi politice serioase, asa cum s-a intimplat in, alte centre avangardiste europene. Modernizarea a generat réspunsuri sociale si culturale diverse. Entuziasmul, de exemplu, reflectat in apologia adesea fervent a industrializarii, a fortei mecanice sia inovatiilor tehnologice, predominant in integralism (varianta localé a constructivismului), in operele unor Brauner, Maxy ori lancu. Automobilul, macaralele, avi- oanele, ascensoarele, electricitatea, motoarele, viteza, Jocurile de noroc si sexul sportiv, impreund cu ritmurile ‘cosmopolite erau preferatele lor. Scepticismul, blamul si dubiul moral in raport cu aceleasi fenomene globale de industrializare, a fost esential in dezvoltarea unei arte antagonice, traditionaliste, ce s-a sprijinit pe valorile ‘opuse, statice, ale datelor locale primare, propulsind figura modesta a faranului drept eroul preferat, transfor- ‘mat acum intr-un persona] dirz, chiar agresiv, a cdrui inflexibilitate se afla in presupusa opozitie cu dezinte- grarea individualittiin modernitate. Ressu, Sirato, Ghiata silon Theodorescu-Sion se numarau printre liderii acestei tendine, ce plasa 0 grea povard cultural pe umerii works of art. This appear allotted point of insert oth pridi responsibilty, a market and a b This feature, the ultimate aesthet rate, entrepreneurial relevance, mak the most radical avant-garde in Roma literally a phenomenon of the surface, b event but the painting as its end, thus reifyin combat into a productive style designed in order bet compete on the art market. The respect for consurr even blatant craftsmanship links together many and very different major figures of the Romanian art scene of that time, such as Brancusi, Hans MattisTeutsch, Theodor Pallady, M. H. Maxy, Comeliu Michailescu, lon Theodorescu-Sion, Francisc Sirato or Victor Brauner. Yet, this aesthetic foxation was not the outcome of conscious, instrumental thinking, It reflected a deeper feature of Romanian society, which, at that time, had only recently been modernized, and whose very traditional civilization had been deliberately and abruptly changed into a ‘modern one during the closing decades of the nineteenth century. Remnants of older modes of thought and behaviour were, however, omnipresent, both in culture and politics, in economy and society. Discrepancies erupted from time to time. One of them could be reflected in this aesthetic fixation of the art produced in Romania in the first haf of the twentieth century, in spite of the flamboyantly enacted collusion with avant-garde trends such as Futurism and Dadaism that precisely intended to disrupt doomed, lethargic aestheticism. Aestheticism marked an entrenched modernism, unable to overcome a primarily handicraft-bound standpoint. With this aesthetic imper- sonation of the avant-garde, the modernization of society and culture in inter-war Romania attained and showed its boundaries. Thus, one might say that avant-garde produc- tion in inter-war Romania is actually the final accomplish- ‘ment of modernism, of societal modernization, and not a real disruption, with serious cultural and political stakes, and consequences, as happened in other European centres of the avant-garde. Modernization prompted various social and cultural answers. Enthusiasm, for example, as reflected in the expansive, apologetic, sometimes fervent, even gushing appraisal of industrialization, of mechanical force and the technological innovations so prominent in “Integralist” (the Romanian version of Constructivism) works such as those of Brauner, Maxy and lancu, Motorcars, cranes, aero- planes, elevators, electricity, engines, speed, gambling, sporting sex and cosmopolitan rhythms, together with various mechanical devices were their preferred objects.