Carabas: 1944-1953: Institutional Paths and Political Destinies in Postwar Romanian Art
Dividing art history of XXth Century in two time spans before and after WWII is a common trait of Eastern and Western European historiography. In Romania and in the entire Eastern Bloc alike, the split between these two periods has been reinforced by the takeover of the communist regime in the aftermath of the war and the infliction of the Soviet model on the cultural field. Socialist Realism associated with the violence and the constrictions of Stalinism as well as the gradual centralization of the art system are still dismissed as colonial, and thus foreign, events in Romanian art history. Without leaving this aside, the project proposes a new look onto the art scene of the communist regime’s first decade which attempts to balance the discontinuities stemmed from the new political and ideological circumstances with continuities of certain institutional and artistic practices. To do so, I will focus on several artists who gained fame and status during the interwar period and continued afterwards not only to work but also to be appointed at the higher level of the hierarchy in the new artistic system. This type of inquiry which draws on archival material, oral history and artists’ memoirs questions the incompatibility of Socialism Realism and modernity as well as the prevailing periodization of art of art in Eastern Europe.