One of the most enigmatic Surrealist painter was Victor Brauner. Al- though he worked mainly in France, Victor Brauner, a Surrealist painter and sculptor, was born and raised in Romania, where he studied at the School of Fine Arts in Bucharest. In 1924 his first one-man show was presented at Bu- charest’s Galerie Mozart. He moved to Paris in 1930 where, through the sculptor Constantin Brâncusi (a fellow-Romanian), he met the painter Yves Tanguy who introduced him to other members of the Surrealist movement. The Surrealists were departing not only from the realism and academicism of nineteenth-century art but also from tendencies toward painterly abstraction of the early modernists. Partly under the influence of contemporary psychol- ogy, they sought unexpected juxtapositions of sharply depicted figurative images, often recalling the landscapes of dreams. In 1934, André Breton, the leader of the Surrealist movement, wrote the introduction to the catalogue for Brauner’s exhibition at the Galerie Pier.His work shows the influence of the other Surrealists, but the modernists, such as Picasso and Klee, also, decidedly influenced him. With the advent of World War Two, Brauner left Paris and settled first in the Pyrenees and then in the Alps, where in the absence of painting materials he worked in collage. He was included in the Exposition internationale du surréalisme at the Galerie Maeght in Paris in 1947. His post-war painting incorporated forms and symbols based on Tarot cards, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and antique Mexican codices. He continued to work in a Surrealist style, despite having been officially expelled from the Surrealists by Breton. Beginning in the early 1960’s, Brauner lived and worked in Varengeville, France; he repre- sented France at the Venice Biennale in 1966, the year he died.
Fascination is one of his best known works. Muted browns and ochre tones decorate a Spartan room with a table —part furniture, part wolf – at which a featureless naked lady sits nonchalantly as if calmly waiting for a meal to be served. Her hair curls up and forms a bird with a swan-like neck which vi- ciously confronts the wolf’s head growing out of the table. His tale and geni- tals are at the other end. Brauner produced a series of paintings such as this, inhabited by strange hybrids of women, animals and objects. These absurd, hallucinatory fantasies spring from the enigmatic world of Surrealist art, in which the visual imagination is freed from the constraints of reason and logic. The Surrealists vision aimed to harness the unconscious to produce revelatory, stimulating images.