From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom
Artists: Ary Murnu, Jules Perahim, Eugen Taru, Val Munteanu, Nell Cobar
June 29– November 30, 2015
Address: SWAN Technology Park,Kingston Building, Șos. București Nord nr. 15-23, Pipera, Bucharest, Romania
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July 15 – August 17: Monday, Wednesday, Friday – 12h-15h. All other days and hours: by appointment: please write to info at postmodernism.ro or call (+4) 0730 040 514
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August 24 – November 1: Monday, Wednesday, Friday – 11h-14h. All other days and hours: by appointment: please write to info at postmodernism.ro or call (+4) 0730 040 514
November 1 – 30: by appointment only (please write to info at postmodernism.ro or call (+4) 0730 040 514)
The curatorial project ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom” is the first one out of a series of future researches analysing the relationship of Romanian artists to different political ideologies and social climates of the historic periods such as interwar 1918-1940, post-war and communist 1946-1989.
As an art history research project, ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom” is presented as a dynamic panorama, including the latest findings in the study, for a duration of over two months.
A special interest is given to the artworks which were commissioned and made especially for multiplication, either using printed versions or filmed ones, for cinema and TV. These particular media are and were viewed as a principal vector of dissemination and distribution of propagandistic messages.
The exhibitional architecture is constructed on three coordinates: artworks – original illustrations and drawings, prints – books, magazines, book mock-ups and a video room – moving images and a very well-known cartoon in the Romanian communist period, ”Mihaela”. The curatorial circuit also has a ”timeline”, which runs along with a remarkable artworks selections and artist special presentations.
Artists, who were active in the above mentioned periods of time, were many times confronted with multiples fractures of the Romanian society and incorporated those historic realities within their artistic approach.
Some of the most interesting ruptures are noticed in the dramatic changes of style and subjects, sometimes for several times in an artistic career.
”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom” proposes, as central axe of the exhibitional flow, a passage from the militant, anti royalist, anti Nazi graphic to children book illustration. This rapid change of course is speeded by the complex needs of the society but also by the demographic phenomena massively modifying the structure of the population
The Romanian artists presented within the exhibition come with different ethnic origins: Ary Murnu, Macedo-Romanian; Jules Perahim, Jew; Eugen Taru, Jew; Val Munteanu, Romanian; Nell Cobar, Jew.
The artworks and materials in the exhibition ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom” are selected out of three private collections.
Brief historic context
The connection of the Romanian art with the propaganda is a complex one and has to be analysed differently within different contexts, taking into consideration the artistic medium and the specific propagandistic cause. Various political regimes (from monarchy to dictatorship) have determined various types of propagandism, which actually modelled, through artistic tools, the social features.
In Romania, the art between the wars is seen as most rich and fertile in the history of art of the XX century. Many artistic forms and expressions, from Traditionalism to Avant-Garde, coexisted In the interwar period of time.
The Traditionalism was feeding the artistic orientation to folklore, ethnography and rural civilisation, through support and public engagement. One of the historic Avant-Garde centres was Bucharest, synchronous and historically connected to the other European Avant-Garde hubs.
The Avant-Garde, by its reactive nature, is a type of art engaged (through manifests) to social and political phenomena, both by content and form. The manifestations of the Romanian Avant-Garde (themselves requiring and experimenting an ongoing extensive and specific documentation and interpretation) prepare and train a generation of artists, with very different destinies and careers. These artists’ preoccupations naturally meet common ground with other styles and art movements.
The bigger or less significant effects of propagandas made a large majority of traditionalist / conservator or avangardist artists to believe and count on the social meaning and thrive of their art, be it searching and representing a national specificity or overthrowing social systems or classes.
Starting with 1948, the Avant-Garde artistic styles, now considered decadent and out of the new reality (the socialist one), were rejected for their ”bourgeois fomalism”. In 1949 Visual Arts Artists’ Cooperative / Union of Artists (Uniunea Artiștilor Plastici) is founded in Bucharest. Emerging artists are hired to execute propagandistic,”visually agitating” artworks. The State becomes the only patron, through a Visual Arts Fund (Fondul Plastic), thus even the established artists cannot avoid feeding on the new conventions of themes: Socialism Realism.
A fact can be reminded here, in order to illustrate better the change: after the WWII, the armament factory ”Uzina 6 Martie Zărnești” is transformed into ”Tohan – bicycle factory”, producing a bicycle brand very well-known within the communist period – Pegas. Somehow similar, the Romanian graphic art transitions from ”Anti Nazi humour” to children’s book illustrations, bande desinee or animation films.
As well known, after WWII have triggered a big demographic explosion, known as the ”baby boom” generation, between 1945 and 1960. This period of time was followed by another one, called ”baby boom echo”, another outbreak of newly born, whose parents were the first baby-boomers (1980-1999).
In 1966, in order to increase the growth of demography, the famous decree number 770 was declaring the abortion illegal. That political and social decision apparently turned against the regime twenty years later. The generation of so called ”decreței” has been the most dynamic sector of the Romanian Revolution since 1989.
These unprecedented demographic and social phenomena were matched by cultural and artistic orientations, thus generating important artistic productions, little studied until now from this comparative perspective. Important artists have dedicated their art to this visual segment for the entire rest of their career.
After 1969, Ion Creanga Publishing House, focused mainly on children literature, was one the spearhead of a large phenomenon of encouraging the book illustrations, collaborating with many gifted artists. Many editorial publications are also presented and translated in German, Hungarian, English, Spanish, Czech, Swedish, being targeted towards international audiences.
The curatorial flow ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom” is illustrated through remarkable artistic approaches:
Ary Murnu (1881-1971) worked as a painter and graphic artist for several publications: ”Reforma”, ”Belgia orientului”, ”Dumineca”, ”Paravanul”, ”Furnica”, ”Dimineaţa”, ”Adevărul”, ”România muncitoare”, ”Acţiunea”, ”Calendarul Minervei”, ”Lumea copiilor”, ”Lumina copiilor” etc. He illustreated numerous Romanian and international literature books and school hadbooks. Murnu was the artist commisioned to illustrate the entire series of highschool drawing guides in the 1930 Romania.
The drawings and illustrations within ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom” exhibition were first published in ”Lumea copiilor” and ”Lumina copiilor” children magazines. The illustrative approach is one of rural influence, clearly showing the appetence for folkloric resources in exemplifying the children world.
Eugen Taru (1913-1991) made his debut within the exhibition of painters from Craiova (Romania) in 1927. Beginning with 1931 he had constantly published caricatures and illustrations in the newspapers ”Tânărul muncitor”, ”Scânteia tineretului”, ”România liberă”. In 1949 he became regular contributor to ”Urzica” magazine. In the early 50-es, he dropped the architecture practice for good and exclusively dedicated himself to book illustration and graphic.
The drawings within ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom” exhibition are illustrations for the satirical books series ”Paravanul de aur” by Isac Ludo and other political drawings from 1958.
Jules Perahim (1914-2008) collaborates with the Avant-Garde magazines ”Unu” (1930-1932) and ”Alge” (1930-1933) – the latter he founded with Gherasim Luca and Aurel Baranga. His artistic career started with a drawing and painting exhibition in 1932 in Bucharest. Threatened for his anti-capitalism and anti-Nazi drawings published in the mass media (”Cuvântul liber”, ”Reporter”, ”Pinguin”), he fled in USSR. Perahim continued to work as book illustrator and graphic designer for his entire artistic career; the exhibition ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom” presents several selections on different media.
Remarkable and versatile graphic artist, Nell Cobar (1916-1993) worked in different drawing styles, adapting to several graphic genres: illustration, caricature, cartoon, calligraphic drawing etc. Cobar made his debut as a cinema graphic artist in 1939. The first cartoon he made in 1940 was actually a stockings commercial ad. Nell Cobar created over 40 animation films; he is the creator of the popular Romanian communist cartoon character ”Mihaela”. In 1971 he was awarded a prize at Venice Children Film Festival for the animated film ”Mulțumesc, Mihaela”.
A selection of caricatural drawings from ”Pițigoiul” magazine in the 40-es and ”Mihaela” cartoons series are shown In the exhibition ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom”.
Val Munteanu (1927-1996) began his career in 1946 with illustrations and caricatures in the left wing propagandistic newspapers and caricatures inserted in the satirical magazine ”Urzica”. Starting with 1949, he had taken part to the Annual Saloons of graphic art, thus beginning a prolific career in caricature, newspaper and book illustration, advertising and book graphic design, stamps, decorative art.
A large selection of well-known and awarded illustrations are presented within the exhibition ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom”.
Informations and documentation presentations by artists above were taken from catalogs and monographs, open sources on artists and their Wikipedia pages.
For more informations regarding this artists and also other representatives artists active in the same period you can follow: colo-ro.blogspot.ro