The National Museum of Art of Romania

The exhibition brings to the fore “small” as opposed to “big” history by highlighting the contribution of Romanian artists who lived through The Great War rather than merely witness edit at close range.

Works by Nicolae Tonitza, Ion Theodorescu-Sion, Camil Ressu, Ștefan Dimitrescu, Oscar Han, Dimitrie Paciurea, Ion Jalea, Cornel Medrea - to name only the best-known of the enlisted artists - reveal human stories and overpower us with their lack of all grandiloquence typical of official imagery. Many of their drawings, paintings and sculptures were meant for a future military museum; they were exhibited for the first time at the “Exhibition of Enlisted Artists” organized by the Military Headquartes in January 1918 in Iași.

Artists capture the contained front-line drama as well as the misery of daily survival. Their works often display a freshness of approach similar to that of contemporary live broadcasts but devoid of any sensational dimension. One is confronted with the life full of deprivations of the humble in a timely attempt to restructure collective memory from the perspective of survivors whom official history had not yet turned into (anonymous) ‘heroes’.

Illustrating war reports that may have never been written, many of the works quietly (but no less critically) frame a question poignantly asked in the years 1916 to 1919 (and still valid today): Who writes (our) history? The exhibition Front-line Studio. Romanian Artists in The Great War prompts us to pause and reflect before we attempt to personally answer the question.

The exhibition design, inspired by war-time trench maps, suggests the traumatic war atmosphere and heightens the message of over 120 works on display.

Exhibition partners: National Museum of Romanian History, ‘King Ferdinand I’ National Military Museum in Bucharest, the ‘Moldova’ National Museum Complex in Iași and the ‘Ion Ionescu Quintus’ Prahova County Art Museum in Ploiești.

A selection of representative works will be later itinerated to the Museo del Risorgimento (Complesso Vittoriano) in Rome with the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute.

National Museum of Art of Romania,
National Gallery Wing – ground floor
CaleaVictoriei, 49-53

Open: 24 August 2017 to 28 January 2018
Visiting hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10.00 - 18.00
Ticket: 10 lei
Free: every first Wednesday of the month