Geta Brătescu Apparitions

Romanian Participation at the 57th
International Art Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia

About / The Artist

 

Geta Brătescu (b. 1926, Ploiești) has been a central figure of Romanian contemporary art since the 1960s. An artist with a rich and long career, Brătescu developed a complex body of work that comprises drawing, collage, engraving, tapestry, object, photography, experimental film, video, and performance. She studied at the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy and concurrently at the Fine Arts Academy in Bucharest and worked as an artistic director for the magazine Secolul 20 [20th Century], renamed Secolul 21 at the turn of the millennium. In 2016, Hamburger Kunsthalle mounted an extensive retrospective exhibition on Brătescu’s work.

The artist’s recent exhibitions include a solo show at Tate Liverpool in 2015; MATRIX 254 / Geta Brătescu, a solo show at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2014; as well as participations in The Encyclopedic Palace, La Biennale di Venezia in 2013; La Triennale, Paris, Palais de Tokyo, in 2012; and the 12th Istanbul Biennial in 2011. Brătescu’s works are in important collections such as MoMA, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest; MUMOK, Vienna; Kontakt Collection, Vienna; Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana; and FRAC Lorraine, Metz. In 2017, Brătescu takes part in Documenta 14, Athens and Kassel, and has a solo exhibition at the Camden Arts Centre, curated by Jenni Lomax.

Article continues below

1926, May 4 – Geta Comănescu (Brătescu’s maiden name) is born in Ploieşti, Romania, as the only child of a family of pharmacists.

1937-1943 – She attends the high school courses in Ploieşti and Bucharest. She develops a strong interest in drawing, literature, and theater.

1944 – One drawing by Comănescu is exhibited in an exhibition hosted by The School of Architecture in Bucharest. Petru Comarnescu (1905-1970) writes about this drawing (in “Cronica plastică”, Revista Fundaţiilor Regale, year XII, no. 8, August 1945).

1945-1949 – The artist enrolls in the Bucharest Faculty of Letters and Philosophy (from 1948 called Faculty of Philology) and in the Bucharest School of Fine Arts. Her professors are George Călinescu (1899-1965), a central personality of the interwar literary criticism, and painter Camil Ressu (1880-1962). Both Călinescu and Ressu left their marks on Brătescu’s intellectual development, cultivating her taste for the literary scenario, for a theatrical sequentialism and for her focus on the line and its relation to space.

1946 – The artist debuts at Salonul Oficial de Alb-Negru [White-Black Official Salon], Dalles Hall, Bucharest, with a coal drawing.

1947 – Her first solo show is presented at Căminul Artei Gallery, Bucharest, a space coordinated by art critic Ionel Jianu.

1948-1949 – The artist is expelled from the Bucharest School of Fine Arts, due to what was considered “unhealthy social origins”.

1951 – She marries Mihai Brătescu, designer of thermal installations, who becomes the main supporter of the artist’s activity.

1954 – Tudor, son of Geta and Mihai Brătescu, is born.

1957 – Brătescu becomes a member of the Romanian Artists’ Union.

1957-1971 – Brătescu enters a period of intense activity as book illustrator. She works for Cartea Romȃnească Publishing House and Urzica magazine. While working for the children’s magazine Arici Pogonici, she meets art critic Anca Arghir, one of the most important interpreters of Brătescu’s work.

1959 – Brătescu travels to the USSR within an exchange between the Romanian and Soviet Creative Unions. In the 1950s and the 1960s the artist is strongly involved in documentary drawing, resulting in two solo exhibitions: in 1960 at The Galateea Gallery in Bucharest with drawings made in the Danube Delta; and in 1963 at The Simeza Gallery in Bucharest with drawings made at the Grivița Plants.

1960 – She participates in the Romanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, in a group exhibition curated by Jules Perahim.

1961 – Brătescu takes a documentary trip to Hungary.

1963 – The artist becomes a member of the editorial team of the magazine Secolul 20 [20th Century], founded in 1961. She is the magazine’s graphic designer until 1983, when she quits due to a change in the editorial direction. She returns after 1990 and is currently a member of Secolul 21 board.

1965 – She works on a series of lithographs illustrating Bertold Brecht’s Mutter Courage [Mother Courage]. She receives the Award for Decorative Arts from the Romanian Artists’ Union.

1965, 1969 – The artist participates in the Lausanne International Tapestry Biennial (2nd and 4th editions).

1967 – Brătescu travels to Italy for the first time. In 1970, her volume De la Veneția la Veneția [From Venice to Venice] will be published. Solo show at Dalles Hall, Bucharest, within the Brancusi Colloquy.

1968 – She takes part in an international book illustration exhibition in Belgrade.

1967-1969 – She works as cartoonist at Animafilm Studios in Bucharest. One of her animated movies is Plimbarea lui Aesop [Aesop’s Walk], 1967. Aesop is to become a central theme in Brătescu’s work.

1969-1971 – She resumes her studies at the Nicolae Grigorescu Institute of Fine Arts and takes her diploma examination in 1971.

1968-1974 – She takes part in the Bologna Biennial for book illustration.

1970 – The exhibition Atelier I [Studio I] opens at The Orizont Gallery in Bucharest. It is the first show in a series of three exhibitions centred on the artist’s studio as a thematic and conceptual motif. The other two that followed are Atelier II [Studio II] (1972, The Apollo Galleries in Bucharest) and Atelier III – Către alb [Studio III – Toward White] (1976-77, The Galateea Gallery in Bucharest and Accademia di Romania in Rome). She receives the Arta magazine award.

1971 – Brătescu performs in her studio the action tre alb [Toward White], photographed by Mihai Brătescu.

1972 – Solo show at Dalles Hall, Bucharest, as part of the Aesthetics International Congress.

1974 – The Magnets are exhibited for the first time, in the group exhibition Artă şi energie [Art and Energy] from Galeria Nouă [The New Gallery] in Bucharest, with the title Magneţi. Utopie a unui monument activ [Magnets. Utopia of an Active Monument]; she also writes a “Magnets manifesto”, which will be published much later in 1990, in Arta magazine.

1975 – She organises and takes part in the group exhibition Corpul uman [The Human Body] at the University of Medicine in Bucharest. Group show Arta și orașul. Repere [The Art and the City. Landmarks], Galeria Nouă [The New Gallery] in Bucharest.

1975-1976 – She presents the solo show Lucrul, imaginea, semnul [The Work, the Image, the Sign] at Galeria Nouă [The New Gallery] in Bucharest, 1975, featuring seminal works such as Electro-magneţi [Electromagnets], Athanor, Tipografie [Printing Press] and the installation Nu, violenţei! [No to Violence!]. She travels to Poland for two consecutive years as a participant in the International Engraving Biennial, Krakow. She meets Tadeusz Kantor, who invites her to his studio. In Krakow, she attended one of the performances of La Classe Morte [The Dead Class] at the Theatre Cricot 2. Brătescu’s photo-performative works tre alb [Toward White] (1975), Autoportret. Către alb [Self-Portrait. Toward White] and De la negru la alb [From Black to White] are loosely based on sequences of a theatrical play.

1977 – She produces the Pre-Medeic Forms lithographs at the Grafico Uno Studio, Milan. With Ion Grigorescu she shoots Mȃna trupului meu [The Hand of My Body], a b/w film on 8 mm, followed the next year by Atelierul [The Studio], a film produced in the same medium. She takes part in the International Engraving Biennial in Espinal, Colombia.

1978 – She exhibits in the group exhibitions Fotografii făcute de artiști plastici [Photographs Taken by Plastic Artists] and Artiştii plastici fotografiază [Plastic Artists Take Photographs], 1982, organised by Ion Grigorescu at the Friedrich Schiller House of Culture in Bucharest. She also takes part in the group exhibition Studiul I [Study I] at Bastion Galleries, Timişoara, organised by artists Paul Gherasim, Ion Grigorescu, and art critic Coriolan Babeţi.

1980 – She mounts a solo show Mythology at Sammlung Michael Winter, Hamburg, Germany. She takes part in the Salonul de gravură [The Engraving Salon], Museum of Art, Tulcea, Romania.

1981 – Brătescu’s solo show Portrete ale Medeei [Portraits of Medea] opens at Simeza Gallery, Bucharest. She takes part in the group exhibition Contemporary Painting in Eastern Europe and Japan, Osaka and Yokohama, Japan.

1983 – The series Vestigii [Vestiges] is exhibited in a solo show at the Simeza Gallery, Bucharest. Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is published at Univers Publishing House, translated by Ştefan Augustin Doinaş, with 31 drawings by Brătescu.

1984 – She presents the solo show Am desenat pentru Faust [I Have Drawn for Faust] in the Friedrich Schiller House of Culture in Bucharest, Romania. She takes part in the International Engraving Biennial in Fredrikstad, Norway.

1985 – She is granted a documentation scholarship in the United Kingdom by the British Council. She travels to Denmark for a solo show at Lyngby Kunstforening in Lyngby. She presents a solo show at Căminul Artei Gallery, Bucharest. Atelier continuu [Continuous Studio], her book of essays, is published at Cartea Românească Publishing House.

1983, 1987 – She exhibits in the São Paolo Biennial, Brasil.

1987 – Brătescu presents a solo show at Căminul Artei in Bucharest.

1988 – She mounts solo shows at Galeriile de Artă, Timișoara; Galeriile de Artă, Arad; and Muzeul Ţării Crişurilor in Oradea, Romania. The group show Litografia [The Lithography] is presented at Căminul Artei Gallery, Bucharest.

1990 – A solo show is presented at Galerie Arnold-Jotzu in Bad Homburg, Germany.

1991 – She exhibits in the Cartea obiect [Object-Book] group exhibition at The Museum of Art Collections in Bucharest. She exhibits the film ini [Hands] (1977) and collages in Stare fără titlu [Untitled Mood], the first major group exhibition to take place in Timişoara after 1989. She exhibits the works Doamna Oliver şi Cavalerul Thonet [Lady Oliver and Cavalier Thonet], the book object Thonet: Voici ton maître within the exhibition Sexul lui Mozart [Mozart’s Gender] opened by The Soros Center for Contemporary Art at Etaj ¾ Gallery (The National Theatre, Bucharest). She exhibits in the group show Art in the Open: Six Romanian Artists at the Narrow Water Gallery, Warren Point, Northern Ireland, alongside Horia Bernea, Sorin Dumitrescu, Vasile Gorduz, Ion Gheorghiu, and Napoleon Tiron.

1992 – The solo show The Myths and Stories of Geta Brătescu opens at The Museum of Art and Archeology of the Missouri University, Columbia, USA. Within this exhibition was presented the film Atelier continuu [Continuous Studio]. She presents the film Earthcake (1992, VHS) – shot by Alexandru Solomon – at the intermedia event Pămȃntul [The Earth] in Timişoara, Romania.

1993 – The artist mounts solo shows at the Museum of Engraving in Bistriţa, Romania, at the French Institute in Bucharest, and the solo show The Garden at Simeza Gallery in Bucharest. She presents the film Cocktail Automatic (also a result of the collaboration with Alexandru Solomon), as well as 2×5 (1993) at the Zona Festival in Timişoara, curated by Ileana Pintilie; and at the OSTranenie. Shattered Myths – New Realities, an international video festival in Bauhaus Dessau. She exhibits in the group show De la obiect la gravură [From Object to Engraving], at the Artists’ Union’s Engraving Workshop’s Gallery, Bucharest. She takes part in the group exhibition dedicated to video art Ex Oriente Lux, The Soros Center for Contemporary Arts, Dalles Hall, Bucharest, curated by Călin Dan; and in the group exhibition Object-Books Made by Romanian Artists, in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, with a joint publication cARTe. Object-Books made by Romanian Artists. Brătescu receives the Ion Andreescu Award from the Romanian Academy, and the Artists’ Union Award.

1994 – She is invited to the Art Unlimited SRL exhibition at the Art Museum in Arad, curated by Judit Angel, one of the primary exponents of a new type of curatorial discourse in Romania. Brătescu participates in the project Europa, Europa. Das Jahrhundert der Avantgarde in Mittel und Osteuropa [The Avant-Garde Century in Middle and Eastern Europe], Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Bonn.

1996 – The artist takes part in the exhibition Experiment in the Romanian Art since 1960 at the Etaj ¾ Gallery, Bucharest, organized by The Soros Center for Contemporary Art and curated by Alexandra Titu; and in two group exhibitions dedicated to Tristan Tzara, in Bucharest and Paris.

1997 – She resumes working as an artistic director for Secolul 20 magazine (now Secolul 21; the artist is still on its board).

1998 – She takes part in the Object-Books group exhibition at the International Book Fair in Leipzig, Germany.

1999-2000 – She mounts a retrospective exhibition at The National Museum of Art in Bucharest, Contemporary Art Department, curated by Ruxandra Balaci, with a catalog edited by the International Center for Contemporary Art, Bucharest. Also in 1999, The National Museum of Art in Bucharest awards her the Margareta Sterian Award.

2000 – Argos Project 2000, Vevey, Switzerland. She participates in the In Full Dress exhibition (Brukenthal Museum, Sibiu), curated by Liviana Dan and focused on ten female artists. With the film Cocktail Automatic, she participates in the exhibition Transitionland in The National Museum of Art in Bucharest. Secolul 21 Foundation publishes Brătescu’s novel A.R.

2001 – She participates in the group exhibition: Autoportretul în arta contemporană [The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Art], Timișoara Art Museum, Romania.

2000-2002 – Brătescu’s works are included by various international curators in exhibitions dedicated to the newly (re)discovered visual territory of Eastern Europe: Arteast 2000+ International Collection: The Art of Eastern Europe in Dialogue with the West at Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, 2000, and In Search of Balkania at Neue Galerie, Graz, 2002. The script of the film Atelierul [The Studio] is published in Laura J. Hoptman, Tomáš Pospiszyl (eds.), Primary Documents: A Sourcebook for Eastern and Central European Art since the 1950s, Museum of Modern Art, New York.

2002 – Brătescu’s book Peisaj cu om. Proză scurtă [Landscape with Human Being. Short Stories] is published by Secolul 21 Foundation.

2003 – She presents Atelier 4, a solo show, at the International Center for Contemporary Art, Bucharest.

2004 – The artist collaborates with Ion Grigorescu for the film Ludus. Brătescu’s book Ziua şi noaptea [Day and Night] is published by Secolul 21 Foundation.

2006 – She mounts a solo show at HT003, an independent art space in Bucharest, curated by Teodor Graur.

2007 – Resurse [Resources] exhibition (with Ion Grigorescu) at The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest. Participation in the group exhibition Social Cooking Romania at NGBK Berlin.

2008 – Solo shows are presented at Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, curated by Silvia Eiblmayr and Alina Şerban; and Ivan Gallery, Bucharest (Collages-Drawings 1971–2006). She receives the National Award for Visual Arts and is awarded the title Doctor Honoris Causa from The National University of Arts, Bucharest, for her contribution to the development of contemporary Romanian art.

2009 – Brătescu’s book Copacul din curtea vecină [The Tree from the Neighboring Courtyard] is published by Secolul 21 Foundation. Solo shows include Capricii [Whims] at Rüdiger Schöttle Gallery, Munich, and Spaţii [Spaces] at Ivan Gallery, Bucharest. Group exhibitions include Gender Check. Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of Eastern Europe at MUMOK – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna.

2010 – She presents the solo show Alteritate [Alterity] at Galerie Mezzanin, Vienna, Austria. Group exhibitions: Image at Work at Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm, and The Economy of the Gift at A Foundation, Liverpool.

2011 – Solo shows are Geta Brătescu. In the Printing Press at Ivan Gallery, Bucharest, Romania; Alteritate [Alterity] at Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Group exhibitions include the 12th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul; Museum der Wünsche at MUMOK – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna; A Complicated Relation – Part 1 at Kalmar Konstmuseum, Sweden; Ostalgia at the New Museum, New York; and L’Internationale at MACBA – Museu D’Art Contemporani de Barcelona.

2012 – Solo shows are Geta Brătescu: Atelierele artistului [The Artist’s Studios] at Salonul de proiecte, Bucharest; Geta Brătescu at Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paolo. Group shows: Intense Proximity at La Triennale Paris 2012, Palais de Tokyo and other venues; A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance at Tate Modern, London.

2013 – Solo shows are Geta Brătescu: The Artists Studios at MUSAC – Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain, curated by Magda Radu; Geta Brătescu and Paul Neagu at Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Group exhibitions: Happy Birthday! 20 Jahre Sammlung Goetz at Sammlung Goetz, Munich; DECORUM: Carpets and Tapestries by Artists at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; 5th Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art; The Encyclopedic Palace, La Biennale di Venezia; In The Heart of the Country. The Collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw at The Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw.

2014 – Solo shows are MATRIX 254 / Geta Brătescu at BAM/PFA – Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, USA; Atelier Continuu at Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin; Jocul formelor [Game of Forms] at Ivan Gallery, Bucharest. Group exhibitions: Straight to Camera: Performance for Film, Modern Art Oxford; artevida at ENDORA Arte Producoes Ltda., Rio de Janeiro; and A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio at MoMA, New York.

2015 – Solo shows are Geta Brătescu: Drawings with the Eyes Closed at CAMSTL – Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Geta Brătescu at Tate Liverpool; Invocarea desenului [Invocation of the Drawing] at Ivan Gallery, Bucharest. Group exhibitions: Vienna Biennale 2015 at MAK, Vienna; Thirty One at National Gallery of Kosovo; the first edition of Timișoara ArtEncounters, Romania; and Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980 at MoMA, New York. Brătescu’s most recent book, Jurnal în zigzag [Diary in Zigzag] is published by Secolul 21 Foundation, with a foreword by Ion Vianu.

2015-2016 – Group shows include Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now at The Menil Collection, Houston; and The School of Kyiv: Karlsruhe Class at Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, in cooperation with The School of Kyiv – Kyiv Biennial 2015.

2016 – The artist presents the solo shows Geta Brătescu. Retrospektive, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; and Geta Brătescu: Collages and Drawings, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Group shows: The Ruler of Justice, Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg; A Matter of Contemplation and Discontent, Vargas Museum, Manila; and Whats The Riddle, Pi Artworks, London.

2016-2017 – Group exhibition My Sweet Little Lamb (works from the Kontakt Collection, Vienna) is on view at Gallery Nova, Zagreb, Croatia.

2017 – She presents a solo show at Camden Arts Centre, London, April-June, and takes part in Documenta 14, Athens and Kassel. She represents Romania in the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, with the solo show Apariții [Apparitions], at the Romanian Pavilion in Giardini della Biennale and the New Gallery of the Romanian Institute for Culture and Humanistic Research in Venice. Group show: Entangled: Threads and Making, Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK.