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Victor Brauner

French-Romanian Painter, Sculptor, and Illustrator

Victor Brauner Photo
Movements and Styles: Dada, Surrealism

Born: June 15, 1903 - Piatra Neamt, Romania

Died: March 12, 1966 - Paris, France

"You will like my painting because it's unknown world is peopled with somnambulists, incubi, succubi, lycanthropes, ephialtes, phantoms, specters, sorcerers, seers, mediums and a whole fantastic population"

Victor Brauner Signature

Summary of Victor Brauner

A leading member of the Romanian avant-garde, Brauner is best known for his explorations of spiritualism, myth, and prediction in which he combined elements of folk or primitive art with the unusual juxtaposition of objects and forms. Although he initially experimented with a range of approaches including Dada and Expressionism, Brauner is most prominently associated with the Surrealists and he was an active member of the group between 1925 and 1948, working closely with André Breton himself amongst others. During his career, Brauner incorporated many and diverse influences into his work to develop a unique personal style which incorporated the use of flattened perspectives, vivid colors, and a complex iconography.

Key Ideas

Known for his eclectic use of imagery, Brauner developed a very individual visual lexicon, incorporating signs and symbols from a diverse range of sources including religion and mysticism into his work. He used these representations as a vehicle to present his own emotions and interactions, claiming that his work was predominantly autobiographical. The personal nature of these emblems, however, makes it difficult for the viewer to interpret them with any great degree of precision.
Ideas associated with prophecy become more dominant in Brauner's work after 1938 when he appeared to correctly predict the loss of one of his eyes in a fight (eyes had been a reoccurring theme in much of his early work). In doing so, he gained a reputation amongst the Surrealists as seer, also believing himself to be one. After the incident his work became more introspective and symbols such as a prophetic cyclops eye are common.
Many of Brauner's works contain fantastical and often grotesque hybrid creatures in which humans, animals and machines are combined to produce bizarre and often unsettling images. In creating these, the artist depersonalized the human form and had the opportunity to write his anxieties onto representations of his own body and the bodies of others, particularly women.
Victor Brauner Photo

Victor Brauner was born in 1903 in Piatra Neamț, in the Romanian region of Moldavia, the third of six children. His father, a Jewish timber merchant, relocated the family to Hamburg, Germany from 1907-1910, and to Vienna in 1912. In 1913 Brauner built his own easel and began to experiment with painting. When the family returned to Romania in 1914, he continued his schooling at the Lutheran school in Brăila, with a focus on zoology.

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