March 25– July 25 2016
Address: Casa Sfatului, Piata Sfatului nr. 30, Brasov
Schedule: 10.00-18.00, Monday closed
Guided tour and press conference: Friday March 25 2016, 12.00
Public opening: Friday March 25 2016, 18.00
Event within the public opening: book launch: ”Comrades against the Crown. Ideology and propaganda in the communist Romania”, by Cornel Jurju
Producers: County History Museum Brasov, County Council Brasov, PostModernism Museum Bucharest
The exhibitional architecture of the curatorial project ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom” 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.
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.
Being an art history research project, ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom” is presented as a dynamic panorama, including the latest findings in the study.
”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 artists presented within the exhibition are: Geta Bratescu, Nell Cobar, Ion Popescu-Gopo, Val Munteanu, Ary Murnu, Jules Perahim, Noel Roni, Eugen Taru.
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 Romanian, 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.
Launching book event within the public opening (March 25 2016, 18.00)
The book ”Comrades against the Crown. Ideology and propaganda in the communist Romania”, by Cornel Jurju, puts a light on the stereotypes through which the communist and post-communist regimes tried to rebuild the Romanian memory concerning the Monarchy as an institutional and historic dimension. Within the communist years, there was build a real ideological-propagandist myth of anti-monarchy. An important role in the social propagating of this ideological product was given to the history school book. From this point of view, this school book was often reduced to an instrument of propaganda, creating a lever of mental control over the Romanian society.
Project partners: Zile și Nopți Brasov, Amco Brasov, Modernism.ro, Nasui collection & gallery
The exhibition ”From Political Propaganda to Baby Boom” is part of DARE – programme of Documenting, Archiving, Revaluing and Exhibiting the art produced in Romania in 1945-1990.
In 2015 PostModernism Museum has initiated a 5-year programme of Documenting, Archiving, Revaluing and Exhibiting the art produced in Romania in 1945-1990, named DARE. The programme consists of a series of researches analyzing the relationship of Romanian artists to different political ideologies and social climates within the historic periods post-war and communist, 1946-1989. So far, no private or public institution in Romania has assumed an initiative of research recovery for this historic period of time.
PostModernism Museum Association Bucharest, Romania, produces and promotes contemporary culture projects and develops cultural and visual arts research programmes.
The Association implements one of its strategic objectives by leading the development of the art & innovation centre PostModernism Museum (PMM), opened in spring 2015 in Bucharest. PMM is part of the first Association of Private Museums in the World and the only entity in Central and Eastern Europe.
The County History Museum Brasov is opened within Casa Sfatului, the old building of the old council of the city, historical heritage building, attested since 15th century.
The Museum’s core collections were established on the collections of Muzeul Sasesc al Tarii Barsei and Museum of Asociaţiunea ASTRA. It preserves and values rich collections of archaeology and history. The permanent exhibition counts almost 3000 pieces exhibited in 17 rooms, across 3 levels of the building. The library hosts over 15.000 volumes. The County History Museum Brasov owns cultural goods classified as National Heritage. (info brasov.ro)