Finding the meaning of dreams with a knife

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Trost (1916–1966)

Freud tended to treat the manifest content of a dream as a mere substitute for the latent content, this latter being much more important and interesting for him. Those who criticized Freud’s method of dream interpretation often started from deconstructing this view and emphasizing the importance of the manifest content. But perhaps none of them went as far as Dolfi Trost, member of the Bucharest Surrealist group, who attempted a radicalization of discussing the manifest content of dreams to overcome Freud’s generalizations. Continue reading

Rearranging Surreality: Dada and Surrealism in Budapest

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(Hungarian National Gallery, 9 July – 5 October 2014)

Only a tiny number of books by André Breton have been translated into Hungarian so far (Nadja, Poisson soluble, Les champs magnétiques), and they had no real impact on Hungarian culture. Ironically, this fact can be proved also by the generous catalogue of the most important Surrealist overview to date in this country: Dada and Surrealism / Rearranged Reality. In the Hungarian text of the catalogue, Les champs magnétiques is translated as Mágneses terek several times, while the existing translation of the volume was published as A mágneses mezők. Breton is not a recurrent point of reference in Hungarian culture, although painters like Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst or René Magritte – major presences also in this catalogue — are of course well-known by the Hungarian public.

While the reception of Surrealism in Hungary still lacks precision and information, the representative exhibition of the National Gallery, organized in partnership with The Israel Museum of Jerusalem is a very important step in this direction, precisely because of its “introductory” character, that is to be felt in the selection of the exhibited works (in several cases no more than 2-3, but quite representative works by artists like, most importantly, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, also Joan Miró, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Hans Arp, André Masson, Roberto Matta, Victor Brauner, Wilfredo Lam, and with the participation of Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Delvaux, Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning, Marcel Jean and others), but also in the keywords that are used for the arrangement of the exhibition.

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Beyond the Black

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„Infra-noir”, un et multiple. Un groupe surréaliste entre Bucarest et Paris, 1945-1947. Dir. Monique Yaari. Peter Lang, Bern, 2014. 

A new series of books (Art and Thought: Histories of the Avant-Garde, edited by Dawn Ades and Timothy Matthews) was initiated at Peter Lang with the collective volume on the activity of the Bucharest surrealist group. It is a brave and interesting choice to begin this new series with an internationally lesser known avant-garde group, but in fact more than one third of the volume consists of an effort to increase the visibility of this very group activity by including a facsimile edition of their collective texts Continue reading

Rozsda’s One Hundred Surrealisms

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(Rozsda100: A Párka fonala / Le Fil de la Parque / The Parca’s Thread. Várfok Galéria, Budapest, 2013.)

100 years have passed since Endre Rozsda’s birth, and his work seems to emerge now in Hungary as one of the major Hungarian oeuvres connected to surrealism. Almost fifteen years were needed though to achieve this goal: after a 1998 retrospective of his painted work in Műcsarnok, Budapest (followed also by a representative exhibition of his graphic works in 2001 – Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest), the most important efforts in promoting Rozsda’s work were carried out by the private gallery Várfok Galéria and its owner, Károly Szalóky. Several exhibitions dedicated to Rozsda’s works have been organized in Budapest during these fifteen years, and some of the major catalogues and articles on his works have been written by the art historians connected to the Gallery. A decisive role in this process was played also by Júlia Cserba, who was very active during the past decades in promoting the works of Paris-based Hungarians, and who was one of the curators of the Műcsarnok retrospective. Art historians like Sándor Hornyik or Gábor Pataki, the most important authors dedicated to the interpretation of Hungarian surrealist painting and to the group of the European School in general, also contributed with their expertise to a better understanding of Rozsda’s work.

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Interpretations and Self-interpretations of Brauner

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(Mihaela Petrov, Victor Brauner pictopoet, Fundația Gellu Naum, București, 2013)

I concluded my review of Mihaela Petrov’s previous book on Victor Brauner with the phrase: “The interpretative effort seems to be still ahead of us.” Petrov’s essential contribution to the scolarship on Brauner was to insist and develop on the idea of the connection between Brauner’s self-interpretative texts and his painted work. The title of the new book (Victor Brauner pictopoet) suggests the same logic of interpretation (establishing links between text and image), and indeed, one will find in the volume several references to Brauner’s letters, notebooks and interviews that tried to explain to himself and to others how elements of his art were interconnected from his specific point of view.

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The Network of Artists around Victor Brauner

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(Emil Nicolae, Victor Brauner și însoțitorii [Victor Brauner and His Fellow-travelers], Ed. Hasefer, Bucharest, 2013.)

The volume consists of twenty shorter texts that explore Victor Brauner’s universe in terms of biography, spiritual kinship and artistic analogy. The author succeeds in retracing elements of biography that go beyond the simple factual level, and finding the instants where “facts” often result in works of art, anecdotes worth remembering, and germs of stories that have never been written. The strategy of the book is to present Brauner in his relation to others: how they saw him, how Brauner saw them, how they interacted, how they “met”, often in spiritual ways only, through their shared interests and aspirations.

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Keywords in the Works of Victor Brauner

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(Mihaela Petrov, Victor Brauner: Cuvântul scris și opera plastică 1934–1965, Humanitas, București, 2012)

Although the art school in his native town (Piatra Neamț, Romania) is named after Victor Brauner, the best works of the surrealist painter were not printed until 2012 in Romania in a representative album of good quality. Mihaela Petrov’s book is therefore an important milestone of Brauner’s reception in Romania, after some major monographical essays published in Romanian language by Emil Nicolae (2004, with several texts and early paintings of the author), Sarane Alexandrian (2005, a translation of the book originally printed in Paris, at Ed. Oxus in 2004) and Cristian-Robert Velescu (2007). The author of the recent book, Mihaela Petrov obtained a PhD degree in Bucharest in 2011, after researching intensively the Brauner archives in Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, creating a full inventory of the notebooks and manuscripts of Brauner, trying to establish interpretative connections between them and Brauner’s paintings.

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