Romania Art History

Romanian art finds its original matrix in the grafting of Byzantine cultures and Central European on an ancient substratum of indigenous popular culture, which has its roots in the Dacian and Slavic artistic traditions; from the origins of feudal art (XII century) up to the century. XVIII the Romanian territory was characterized by a double artistic physiognomy; on the one hand, Transylvania followed the events of Western art with some chronological displacement and local accents, on the other hand the Byzantine influence prompted solutions at times of considerable originality, in Wallachia and Moldavia. Finally, the Romanian artistic panorama, along the entire arc of its development, in addition to the natural interference between the two cultural areas, is also characterized by a continuous passing into the so-called “cultured”, feudal, city or courtly art, of forms and suggestions of popular art. The first important manifestations are placed in the sec. Visit ask4beauty for Romania most special of Europe.

XII and XIII: some churches and civil buildings in Transylvania date back to that period, a region more historically exposed to those Germanic cultural and political influences that will characterize, alongside a popular Byzantine trend, its entire artistic history: among them the cathedral of Alba Iulia and the church of Cisnadioara, in style Romanesque, or that of Cirta, in Gothic style, and the ancient fortress of Deva (1269), the first document of that process of fortification which, which lasted until the century. XVIII, would have given the region its own peculiar physiognomy. In fact, the construction of fortresses and fortified churches began in Transylvania, particularly intense in the century. XIV, according to structural schemes typical of Central European castle architecture: ca. 200 of these buildings are still preserved (Birsa, Bistnita, Avrig, Girbova etc.). The sculptures of the Black Church of Brasov, close to the style of P. Parler, confirm the prevailing Germanic influence. At the end of the century. The churches of Turnu Severin and San Nicoara with a rectangular plan with apse date back to the 13th century, and to the following century that of San Nicola, 1352 (all in Curtea de Arges in Wallachia), and the monasteries of Cotmeana and Cozia (1388) echoing Bulgarian and Serbian architectural ways as a reinterpretation of a codified Byzantine formal heritage both in the plants (tricora plant), and in the decoration, which uses brick and glazed terracotta, both in the frescoes that decorate the interior of the buildings, in Byzantine-Balkan style. During the reign of Stephen III the Great (1457-1504) Moldavia experienced a period of notable prosperity, which favored the development of artistic activity and an original style. Among the many churches of the time worthy of mention, those of Dolhestii Mari, Voronet, Hirlau, Borzesti, Razboieni, Popauti, Piatra, in which a local architectural style is developing, derived from the harmonious fusion of Byzantine ways, prevalent in the plants, and decorative motifs taken from Western Gothic, and characterized by original structural solutions (Moldovan vault). Moldovan painting also experienced a notable development with the frescoed decorations of the churches (in particular that of Balinesti, 1493), a happy revival of Byzantine iconographies enlivened by a new pictorial sensitivity that is expressed in the search for daring shades of color, in the changing of proportions and in the tendency to more dynamic compositions. The liturgical craftsmanship with fine furnishings and embroidery (15th-16th centuries) is also of great interest, largely preserved in the Art Museum of Bucharest. In Transylvania important, in the sec. XV, the pictorial decoration of tasty popular intonation of a group of churches in the region of Hateg, due to Romanian workers little linked to the prevailing Germanic cultural tradition, in which Byzantine influences blend with motifs of Catholic derivation. At the beginning of the century. XVI belong two important monuments of Wallachia, the church of the monastery of Dealu (1498-1508) and the episcopal church of Curtea de Arges (1517), with plastic decoration of Muslim influence; during the century numerous churches and chapels were erected, with a tricora plan, inspired by the church of Cozia (we can remember the Curtea Veche, 1559, and the Mihai Vodă, 1591, both in Bucharest) which identify a more linked architectural-decorative typology with a Romanian flavor, typical of the region. Many of the Wallachian churches of period were frescoed inside, but only the decoration of the church of the Hospital of Cozia (1543) has come down to us in good condition. In Moldavia, there are numerous sixteenth-century churches, generally preceded by a large portico and sometimes of considerable importance (churches of Humor, 1530; Vatra Moldovitii, 1532; Sucevita, 1582-84). Characteristic are the frescoes on the facades, of remarkable vivacity and chromatic freshness, which constitute an episode of great interest, for variety of themes and compositional coherence, in the panorama of medieval European painting of Byzantine origin.

In the sec. XVII develops an autonomous Wallachian style characterized by the abundance of plastic decoration, above all on the impulse of Prince Matteo Basarab (1632-54), who was responsible for the foundation of various churches. In Moldova instead the architecture assimilates western motifs, especially in the decoration (Dragomirna church, 1609); during the eighteenth century the Russian influence introduced an accentuated taste in the region classicistic, while Baroque motifs of western import prevailed, grafting into the decorative traditions typical of the area, in the architecture and applied arts of Wallachia (churches of Antim, 1715, and Vacaresti, 1716-22). The Brâncoveanu style (from the name of Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu, 1688-1714) also spread to Transylvania, where it acquired an accentuated popular character. In the sec. XIX a severe neoclassical taste predominated in the architecture, especially typical of public buildings in Bucharest: Stirbey and Colentina-Tei palaces (1820-22), National Theater (1851), University (1857-64), by A. Orascu. The classicist taste prevailed throughout the nineteenth century, despite the architect I. Mincu attempting to revive national popular architecture. While the level of the sculpture remained mediocre, a valid painting of Western influence was born, whose first representatives were E. Altini, C. Lecca, G. Asachi and others. Of much greater importance were T. Aman (1831-1891), portraitist, author of historical and genre paintings, N. Grigorescu (1838-1907), influenced by the painting of the Barbizon school and the impressionists, and I. Andreescu (1850-1882). Popular painting, widespread in the field of religious decoration, joined the “cultured” painting as a folkloric interpretation of traditional themes carried out with expressive vigor supported by the spontaneity of the drawing and the taste for pure and bright color. In the sec. XX architecture and painting have no representatives of particular importance and tend to suffer, with some delay, the influences of the prevailing currents in European culture. A very significant figure is instead that of the sculptor C. Brâncusi, also active abroad, and of whom we can remember both the Infinite Column (1937) in Tîrgu Jiu, which with cubist motifs accompanies the revival of elements of popular culture, and the Maistra, an elegant and linear reworking of a legendary bird of the Romanian tradition. After the war, the foundation of the Union of Artists (1949) and the political choices of the country framed the artistic activity in the general context of ” socialist realism “. Only with the 1989 revolution did the names of artists begin to emerge no longer linked to an obsolete figuration, but attracted by the currents of contemporary art, such as Alexandru Antik (b.1950), performer and video artist and Kiril Prashkov (b.1959). Impressive, and unfortunately marked by the standardized gigantism typical of the civil architecture of the countries of “real socialism”, the post-war urban arrangements in the new districts of large cities (especially Bucharest), industrial centers and tourist centers on the Black Sea. period of transition to democracy, even Romania is trying, despite the difficulties inherent in such a project in a country troubled by a serious economic crisis and strong social inequalities, to develop a modern urban and architectural culture.

Romania Art History