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Victor Brauner

(French/Romanian, 1903-1966)

Victor Brauner was a Romanian Surrealist painter and sculptor and is today acknowledged as one of the most important members of the Romanian avant-garde.

He was born on the 15th June 1903 in Romania, and in 1916-1918 he attended the National School of Fine Arts in Bucharest. Brauner began painting landscapes in the manner of Paul Cézanne and in this youth, as he later testified, went through all the "Dadaist, Abstractionist, Expressionist" idioms. In 1930, Brauner settled in Paris where he met Constantin Brancusi, who instructed him in the methods of art photography. In that same period, he became a friend of the Romanian poet Benjamin Fondane and met Alberto Giacometti and Yves Tanguy, who would later introduce him to the Surrealists. In 1934, André Breton wrote the catalogue introduction for his first solo show in Paris at the Pierre Gallery and in 1935, Brauner returned to Bucherest where he joined the Romanian Communist Party for a short while and opened a new personal exhibition at the Mozart Galleries.

In 1938, he returned to France and that August he lost his left eye in a violent argument between Oscar Domínguez and Esteban Francés. Brauner attempted to protect Esteban and was hit by a glass thrown by Domínguez. The same year he met his wife Jaqueline Abraham and created a series of paintings called lycanthropic or sometimes chimeras. He left Paris during Nazi Germany's invasion of France in 1940, however, he kept in touch with the Surrealists who had taken refuge in Marseille. In 1941, he was granted permission to settle in Marseille. Seriously ill, he was hospitalised at the "Paradis" clinic.

In 1966, he was chosen to represent France at the Venice Biennale, where an entire hall was dedicated to him. He died the same year in Paris as a result of a prolonged illness; the epitaph on his tomb from the Montmartre cemetery is a phrase from his notebooks: "Painting is life, the real life, my life".

Victor Brauner