b. 1926, Ploiești - d. 2018, Bucharest, Romania
Geta Brătescu has been a central figure of Romanian contemporary art since the 1960s. An artist with a rich and long career, Brătescu developed a complex body of work that comprises drawing, collage, engraving, tapestry, object, photography, experimental film, video, and performance. She studied at the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy and concurrently at the Fine Arts Academy in Bucharest and worked as an artistic director for the magazine “Secolul 20 [20th Century]”, renamed “Secolul 21 [21st Century]” at the turn of the millennium.
Geta Brătescu took part in some of the most important contemporary art exhibitions, such as Documenta 14, Athens and Kassel (2017), La Biennale di Venezia (2013), La Triennale, Paris, Palais de Tokyo (2012) and the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011), to name just a few. In 2017, Geta Brătescu represented Romania in the Venice Biennale with the project “Apparitions”, the first solo show of a woman artist in the Romanian Pavilion.
Among her recent solo shows are the ones at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin (2018), Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles (2018) and New York (2017), Camden Arts Center, London and MSK Gent (2018), Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (2016), Tate Liverpool (2015), Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2014).
1926, May 4 Geta Comănescu (Brătescu’s maiden name) is born in Ploiești, Romania, as the only child in a family of pharmacists.
1937-1943 She attends high school in Ploiești and Bucharest. She develops a strong interest in drawing, literature, and theatre.
1944 One drawing by Comănescu is exhibited in an exhibition hosted by The School of Architecture in Bucharest. Petru Comarnescu (1905–1970) writes about this drawing (in “Cronica plastică”, Revista Fundațiilor Regale, year XII, no. 8, August 1945).
1945-1949 The artist enrols in the Bucharest Faculty of Letters and Philosophy (from 1948 called Faculty of Philology) and in the Bucharest School of Fine Arts. Her professors are George Călinescu (1899– 1965), a central personality of the interwar literary criticism, and painter Camil Ressu (1880–1962). Both Călinescu and Ressu left their marks on Brătescu’s intellectual development, cultivating her taste for the literary scenario, for theatrical sequentialism, and for her focus on the line and its relation to space.
1946 The artist debuts at Salonul Oficial de Alb-Negru [White-Black Official Salon], Dalles Hall, Bucharest, with a coal drawing.
1947 Her first solo show is presented at the Căminul Artei Gallery, Bucharest, a space coordinated by art critic Ionel Jianu.
1948-1949 The artist is expelled from the Bucharest School of Fine Arts, due to what was considered “unhealthy social origins.”
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1951 She marries Mihai Brătescu, designer of thermal installations, who becomes the main supporter of the artist’s activity.
1954 Tudor, son of Geta and Mihai Brătescu, is born.
1957 Brătescu becomes a member of the Romanian Artists’ Union.
1957-1971 Brătescu enters a period of intense activity as a book illustrator. She works for Cartea Românească Publishing House and Urzica magazine. While working for the children’s magazine Arici Pogonici, she meets art critic Anca Arghir, one of the most important interpreters of Brătescu’s work.
1959 Brătescu travels to the USSR within an exchange between the Romanian and Soviet Creative Unions. In the 1950s and the 1960s the artist is strongly involved in documentary drawing, result- ing in two solo exhibitions: in 1960 at The Galateea Gallery in Bucharest with drawings made in the Danube Delta; and in 1963 at the Simeza Gallery in Bucharest with drawings made at the Grivița Plants.
1960 She participates in the Romanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, in a group exhibition curated by Jules Perahim.
1961 Brătescu takes a documentary trip to Hungary.
1963 The artist becomes a member of the editorial team of the magazine Secolul 20 [20th Century], founded in 1961. She is the magazine’s graphic designer until 1983, when she quits due to a change in the editorial direction. She returns after 1990 and is currently a member of the Secolul 21 board.
1965 She works on series of lithographs illustrating Bertolt Brecht’s Mutter Courage [Mother Courage]. She receives the Award for Decorative Arts from the Romanian Artists’ Union.
1965, 1969 The artist participates in the Lausanne International Tapestry Biennial (2nd and 4th editions).
1966 Brătescu travels to Italy for the first time. In 1970 her volume De la Veneția la Veneția [From Venice to Venice] will be published.
1967 Solo show at Dalles Hall, Bucharest, within the Brancusi Colloquy. 1968 She takes part in an international book illustration exhibition in Belgrade.
1967-1969 She works as cartoonist at Animafilm Studios in Bucharest. One of her animated movies is Plimbarea lui Aesop [Aesop’s Walk], 1967. Aesop is to become a central theme in Brătescu’s work.
1969-1971 She resumes her studies at the Institute of Fine Arts “Nicolae Grigorescu” and takes her diploma examination in 1971.
1968-1974 She takes part in the Bologna Biennial for book illustration.
1970 The exhibition Atelier I [Studio I] opens at The Orizont Gallery in Bucharest. It is the first show in a series of three exhibitions centered on the artist’s studio as a thematic and conceptual motif. The other two that followed are Atelier II [Studio II] (1972, The Apollo Galleries in Bucharest) and Atelier III – Către alb [Studio III – Toward White] (1976–77, The Galateea Gallery in Bucharest and Accademia di Romania in Rome). She receives the Arta magazine’s award.
1971 Brătescu performs in her studio the Către alb [Toward White] action, photographed by Mihai Brătescu.
1972 Solo show at Dalles Hall, Bucharest, as part of the Aesthetics International Congress.
1974 The Magnets are exhibited for the first time, in the group exhibition Artă și energie [Art and Energy] from Galeria Nouă [the New Gallery] in Bucharest, with the title Magneți. Utopie a unui monument activ [Magnets. Utopia of an Active Monument]; she also writes a “Magnets manifesto,” which will be published much later in 1990, in Arta magazine.
1975 She organizes and takes part in the group exhibition Corpul uman [The Human Body] at the University of Medicine in Bucharest. Group show Arta și orașul. Repere [The Art and the City. Land- marks], Galeria Nouă [the New Gallery] in Bucharest.
1975–1976 She presents the solo show Lucrul, imaginea, semnul [the Work, the Image, the Sign] at Galeria Nouă [the New Gallery] in Bucharest, 1975, featuring seminal works such as Electro-magneți [Electromagnets], Athanor, Tipografie [Printing Press] and the installation Nu violenței! [No to Violence!]. She travels to Poland for two consecutive years as a participant in the International Engraving Biennial, Krakow. She meets Tadeusz Kantor, who invites her to his studio. In Krakow she attended one of the performances of La classe morte [The Dead Class] at the Theatre Cricot 2. Brătescu’s photo-performative works Către alb [Toward White] (1975), Autoportret. Către alb [Self-Portrait. Toward White] and De la negru la alb [From Black to White] are loosely based on sequences of a theatrical play.
1977 She produces the Pre-Medeic Forms lithographs at the Grafico Uno Studio, Milan. With Ion Grigorescu she shoots Mâna trupului meu [The Hand of My Body], a b/w film on 8 mm, followed the next year by Atelierul [The Studio], a film produced in the same medium. She takes part in the International Engraving Biennial in Espinal, Colombia.
1978 She exhibits in the group exhibitions Fotografii făcute de artiști plastici [Photographs Taken by Plastic Artists] and Artiștii plastici fotografiază [Plastic Artists Take Photographs], 1982, organized by Ion Grigorescu at the Friedrich Schiller House of Culture in Bucharest. She also takes part in the group exhibition Studiul I [Study I] at Bastion Galleries, Timișoara, organized by artists Paul Gherasim, Ion Grigorescu, and art critic Coriolan Babeți.
1980 She mounts a solo show called Mythology at Sammlung Michael Winter, Hamburg, Germany. She takes part in the Salonul de gra- vură [The Engraving Salon], Museum of Art, Tulcea, Romania.
1981 Brătescu’s solo show Portrete ale Medeei [Portraits of Medea] opens at Simeza Gallery, Bucharest. She takes part in the group exhibition Contemporary Painting in Eastern Europe and Japan, Osaka and Yokohama, Japan.
1983 The series Vestigii [Vestiges] is exhibited in a solo show at the Simeza Gallery, Bucharest. Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is published at Univers Publishing House, translated by Ștefan Augustin Doinaș, with 31 drawings by Brătescu.
1984 She presents the solo show Am desenat pentru ‘Faust’ [I have drawn for ‘Faust’] in the Friedrich Schiller House of Culture in Bucharest, Romania. She takes part in the International Engraving Biennial in Fredrikstad, Norway.
1985 She is granted a documentation scholarship in the United Kingdom by the British Council. She travels to Denmark for a solo show at Lyngby Kunstforening in Lyngby. She presents a solo show at Căminul Artei Gallery, Bucharest. Atelier continuu [Continuous Studio], her book of essays is published at Cartea Românească Publishing House.
1983, 1987 She exhibits in the São Paolo Biennial, Brazil.
1987 Brătescu presents a solo show at Căminul Artei in Bucharest.
1988 She mounts solo shows at Galeriile de Artă, Timișoara; Galeriile de Artă, Arad; and Muzeul Țării Crișurilor in Oradea, Romania. The group show Litografia [The Lithography] is presented at Căminul Artei Gallery, Bucharest.
1990 A solo show is presented at Galerie Arnold-Jotzu in Bad Homburg, Germany.
1991 She exhibits in the Cartea obiect [Object-Book] group exhibition at The Museum of Art Collections in Bucharest. She exhibits the film Mâini [Hands] (1977) and collages in Stare fără titlu [Untitled Mood], the first major group exhibition to take place in Timișoara after 1989. She exhibits the works Doamna Oliver și Cavalerul Thonet [Lady Oliver and Cavalier Thonet], the book object Thonet: Voici ton maître within the exhibition Sexul lui Mozart [Mozart’s Gender] opened by The Soros Center for Contemporary Art at Etaj 3⁄4 Gallery (The National Theatre, Bucharest). She exhibits in the group show Art in the Open: Six Romanian Artists at the Narrow Water Gallery, Warren Point, Northern Ireland, alongside Horia Bernea, Sorin Dumitrescu, Vasile Gorduz, Ion Gheorghiu, and Napoleon Tiron.
1992 The solo show The Myths and Stories of Geta Brătescu opens at The Museum of Art and Archeology of the Missouri University, Columbia, USA. Within this exhibition was presented the film Atelier continuu [Continuous Studio]. She presents the film Earthcake (1992, VHS) – shot by Alexandru Solomon – at the intermedia event Pământul [The Earth] in Timișoara, Romania.
1993 The artist mounts solo shows at the Museum of Engraving in Bistrița, Romania, at the French Institute in Bucharest, and the solo show The Garden at Simeza Gallery in Bucharest. She presents the film Cocktail Automatic (also a result of the collaboration with Alexandru Solomon), as well as 2 × 5 (1993) at the Zona Festival in Timișoara, curated by Ileana Pintilie; and at the OSTranenie. Shattered Myths – New Realities, an international video festival in Bauhaus Dessau. She exhibits in the group show De la obiect la gravură [From Object to Engraving], in the Artists’ Union’s Engraving Workshop’s Gallery, Bucharest. She takes part in the group exhibition dedicated to video art Ex Oriente Lux, The Soros Center for Contemporary Art, Dalles Hall, Bucharest, curated by Călin Dan; and in the group exhibition Object-Books Made by Romanian Artists, in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, with a joint publication cARTe. Object-Books Made by Romanian Artists. Brătescu receives the Ion Andreescu Award from the Romanian Academy, and the Artists’ Union Award.
1994 She is invited to the Art Unlimited SRL exhibition at the Art Museum in Arad, curated by Judit Angel, one of the primary exponents of a new type of curatorial discourse in Romania. Brătescu participates in the project Europa, Europa. Das Jahrhundert der Avantgarde in Mittel und Osteuropa [The Avant-Garde Century in Middle and Eastern Europe], Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Bonn.
1995 Group show Videoformes #95, Clermont-Ferrand, France.
1996 The artist takes part in the exhibition Experiment in the Romanian Art since 1960 at the Etaj 3⁄4 Gallery, Bucharest, organized by The Soros Center for Contemporary Art and curated by Alexandra Titu; and in two group exhibitions dedicated to Tristan Tzara, in Bucharest and Paris.
1997 She resumes working as an artistic director for Secolul 20 magazine (now Secolul 21; the artist is still on its board.)
1998 She takes part in the Object-Books group exhibition at the International Book Fair in Leipzig, Germany.
1999–2000 She mounts a retrospective exhibition at The National Museum of Art in Bucharest, Contemporary Art Department, curated by Ruxandra Balaci, with a catalog edited by the International Centre for Contemporary Art, Bucharest. Also in 1999, The National Museum of Art in Bucharest awards her the Margareta Sterian Award.
2000 Argos Project 2000, Vevey, Switzerland. She participates in the In Full Dress exhibition (Brukenthal Museum, Sibiu), curated by Liviana Dan and focused on ten female artists. With the film Cocktail Automatic, she participates in the exhibition Transitionland in the National Museum of Art in Bucharest. Secolul 21 Foundation publishes Brătescu’s novel A.R.
2001 She participates in the group exhibition Autoportretul în arta contemporană [The Self-portrait in Contemporary Art], Timișoara Art Museum, Romania.
2000–2002 Brătescu’s works are included by various international curators in exhibitions dedicated to the newly (re)discovered visual territory of Eastern Europe: Arteast 2000+ International Collection: the Art of Eastern Europe in Dialogue with the West at Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, 2000, and In Search of Balkania at Neue Galerie, Graz, 2002. The script of the film Atelierul [The Studio] is published in Laura J. Hoptman, Tomáš Pospiszyl (eds.), Primary Documents: A Sourcebook for Eastern and Central European Art since the 1950s, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
2002 Brătescu’s book Peisaj cu om. Proză scurtă [Landscape with Human Being. Short Stories] is published by the Secolul 21 Foundation.
2003 She presents Atelier 4, a solo show at the International Centre for Contemporary Art, Bucharest.
2004 The artist collaborates with Ion Grigorescu for the film Ludus. Brătescu’s book Ziua și noaptea [Day and Night] is published by Secolul 21 Foundation. Group show at Kunsthalle Wien project space, formate/moving patterns. Bukarest ca.2004, Vienna, Austria.
2006 She mounts a solo show at HT003, an independent art space in Bucharest, curated by Teodor Graur. Group show at Moderna Galerija, Arteast Collection 2000+23, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
2007 Resurse [Resources] exhibition (with Ion Grigorescu) at The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest. Participation in the group exhibition Social Cooking Romania at NGBK Berlin.
2008 Solo shows are presented at Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, curated by Silvia Eiblmayr and Alina Șerban; and Ivan Gallery, Bucharest (Collages-Drawings 1971–2006). She receives the National Award for Visual Arts and was awarded the title Doctor Honoris Causa from The National University of Arts, Bucharest, for her contribution to the development of contemporary Romanian art.
2009 Brătescu’s book Copacul din curtea vecină [The Tree from the Neighboring Courtyard] is published by Secolul 21 Foundation. Solo shows include Capricii [Whims] at Rüdiger Schöttle Gallery, Munich, and Spații [Spaces] at Ivan Gallery, Bucharest. Group exhibitions include Gender Check. Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of Eastern European at MUMOK – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna; Forschungsbericht, COCO, Vienna, Austria; Portrait – 01, Kunstagenten Gallery, Berlin, Germany; Fleuves, Cneai, Chatou, France; Romanian Modernism, Espace Tajan, Paris.
2010 She presents a solo show Alteritate [Alterity] at Galerie Mezzanin, Vienna, Austria. Group exhibitions: Image at Work at Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm; The Economy of the Gift at A Foundation, Liverpool; Social Cooking Romania, Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania (travelling exhibition); ZOOMANIA.RO, The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest.
2011 Solo shows are Geta Brătescu. In the Printing Press at Ivan Gallery, Bucharest, Romania; Alteritate [Alterity] at Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Group exhibitions include the 12th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul; Museum der Wünsche at MUMOK – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna; A Complicated Relation – Part 1 at Kalmar Konstmuseum, Sweden; Ostalgia at the New Museum, New York; L’Internationale at MACBA – Museu D’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; and KONTAKT COLLECTION Works from the Kontakt Art Collection, Sofia City Art Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria.
2012 Solo shows are Geta Brătescu: Atelierele artistului [The Artist’s Studios] at Salonul de proiecte, Bucharest; Geta Brătescu at Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paolo; Group shows: Intense Proximity at La Triennale Paris 2012, Palais de Tokyo and other venues; A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance at Tate Modern, London; and Spazi Aperti X, Accademia di Romania, Rome.
2013 Solo shows are Geta Brătescu: The Artist’s Studios at MUSAC, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain, curated by Magda Radu; Geta Brătescu and Paul Neagu at Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Group exhibitions: the 5th Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art; The Encyclopedic Palace, La Biennale di Venezia; Happy Birthday! 20 Jahre Sammlung Goetz at Sammlung Goetz, Munich; DECORUM: Carpets and Tapestries by Artists at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; In The Heart of the Country. The Collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw at The Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; Secret Codes, Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo, Brazil; Good Girls: Memory Desire Power, The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest; Marriage, Qbox Gallery, Athens, Greece; My Dear Clown, Ivan Gallery, Bucharest; The Earth Turns and All Things Slip Away, Hunt Kastner, Prague, Czech Republic; Threaded Stories, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London; Les Scènes Roumaines, Louis Vuitton Cultural Center, Paris.
2014 Solo shows are MATRIX 254 / Geta Brătescu at BAM/PFA – Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, USA; Atelier Continuu at Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin; Jocul formelor [Game of Forms] at Ivan Gallery, Bucharest. Group exhibitions: Straight to Camera: Performance for Film, Modern Art Oxford; artevida at ENDORA Arte Producoes Ltda., Rio de Janeiro; and A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio at MoMA, New York; For Each Gesture Another Character, Art Stations, Poznan, Poland; Dans ma cellule, une silhouette, La Ferme Du Buisson, France; Lines. Curated by Rodrigo Moura, Hauser & Wirth, Zürich, Switzerland; Franz Graf: See What You See, 21er Haus, Vienna; Do it Moscow, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (in collaboration with Independent Curators International (ICI) New York), Moscow.
2015 Brătescu’s most recent book, Jurnal în zigzag [Diary in Zigzag] is published by the Secolul 21 Foundation, with a foreword by Ion Vianu. Solo shows are Geta Brătescu: Drawings with the Eyes Closed at CAMSTL – Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Geta Brătescu at Tate Liverpool; Invocarea desenului [Invocation of the Drawing] at Ivan Gallery, Bucharest; Group exhibitions: Vienna Biennale 2015 at MAK, Vienna; Thirty One at National Gallery of Kosovo; Appearance & Essence, the first edition of Timișoara ArtEncounters, Romania; Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980 at MoMA, New York; Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now at The Menil Collection, Houston and at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles CA (travelling exhibition); The School of Kyiv: Karlsruhe Class at Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, in cooperation with The School of Kyiv – Kyiv Biennial 2015; Grammar of Freedom / Five Lessons: Works from the Arteast 2000+ Collection, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (in collaboration with Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana), Moscow; curated by_Joe Scanlan: The * of Love. Doug Ashford, Geta Brătescu, Dexter Sinister, Polly Korbe, Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna; Geometries On and Off the Grid: Art from 1950 to the Present, The Warehouse, Dallas TX; 1989, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin.
2016 The artist presents the solo shows Geta Brătescu. Retrospektive, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; and Geta Brătescu: Collages and Drawings, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin; Group shows: The Ruler of Justice, Heidelberg Kunstverein, Heidelberg; A Matter of Contemplation and Discontent, Vargas Museum, Manila; What’s The Riddle, Pi Artworks, London; My Sweet Little Lamb (works from the Kontakt Collection, Vienna), Gallery Nova, Zagreb, Croatia; Madeleine, insitu – space for contemporary art, Berlin; and Farewell to an Idea, Neue Berlinder Räume, Berlin.
2017 Group shows: Documenta 14, Athens, Greece & Kassel, Germany, Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb), The Showroom, London, Entangled: Threads and Making, Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK; Raise the Curtain, Galeria Moises Perez de Albeniz, Madrid; Półprawda | Half-Truth, Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture, Warsaw, Poland; Salon, Hauser & Wirth, Zürich, Switzerland. She presents the solo show The Studio: A Tireless, Ongoing Space at Camden Arts Centre, London, April–June that traveled in September at the MSK Gent, An Atelier of One’s Own, and represents Romania in the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, with the solo show Apariții [Apparitions], at the Romanian Pavilion in Giardini della Biennale and the New Gallery of the Romanian Institute for Culture and Humanistic Research in Venice. Her first New York solo show, The Leaps of Aesop, at Hauser & Wirth.
2018 Her first Los Angeles solo show, The Leaps of Aesop, at Hauser & Wirth and her first solo exhibition in a Berlin institution at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein. Group shows: Double Heads Matches, New Budapest Gallery; Virginia Woolf: an exhibition inspired by her writings, Tate St Ives and The Pallant House, UK; Multiply, Identify, Her, ICP Museum, New York; De Line Up, Centraal Museum in Utrecht; The Medea Insurrection. Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain, The State Collection of Art in Dresden (SKD); Generations Part 3. Female Artists in Dialogue, Sammlung Goetz, Münich; and German Bundestag, 1914/1918 – Not Then, Not Now, Not Ever!, Berlin.
2019 Solo show: The Power of the Line, Hauser & Wirth, London; Group shows: Présences Voyageuses & Degrés Est, 49 Nord 6 Est – Frac Lorraine, Metz, France; IMMA Collection: A Fiction Close to Reality, Irish Museum of Moder Art, Dublin, Ireland; Ex-East. Past and recent stories of the Romanian avant-garde, Espace Niemeyer, Paris; Collective Exhibition for a Single Body – The Private Score – Vienna 2019, Haus Wittgenstein; Rethinking the image of the world, MILL, La Louvière, Belgium, part of the Europalia Arts Festival Romania; Perspectives, BOZAR, Brussels, part of the Europalia Arts Festival Romania; Geta Brătescu, Adrian Ghenie, Ciprian Mureșan, Șerban Savu, Fondazione Nicola del Roscio, Rome.