Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Solidarity Exhibitions in Socialist Romania

Fri31  Mar05:00pm(15 mins)
East Quad Lecture Theatre


Irina Carabas1
1 University of Bucharest, Romania


Throughout the history of the communist regime in Romania art exhibitions were used as soft diplomacy within the Eastern Bloc but also in establishing connections with states of the Global South and capitalist countries. In this paper, I will focus on the 1950s, a decade that had only recently gain scholarly interest in order to show that, far from being completely isolated from the art produced outside the USSR or the Eastern Bloc, Romania put itself on the map of several touring exhibitions featuring Western and Latin American artists. Among them the so-called Italian neo-realist painters (and particularly Renato Guttuso) and the Mexican artists connected to Taler de Grafica Popular seemed to have enjoyed the most consistent state support. While their exhibitions were officially presented as proofs of solidarity on the left front of the arts, they were also used as tools for (re)legitimizing socialist realism. My aim is twofold: to retrace how different institutions in socialist Romania cooperated (special designed institutions such as the Romanian Institute for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries but also the Artists Union and the Museum of Art in Bucharest) in organizing art exhibitions during the 1950s, focusing on the cases mentioned above. Furthermore, I will pinpoint the changes underwent by their reception along the decade in order to investigate how they challenged and/or legitimized the discourse of socialist realism in Romania.