The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
His is hardly a household name, at least not in American art, but the
Romanian artist Victor Brauner (1903-1966) was a significant figure in the
Surrealist movement in France during the 1930s and 1940s. André Breton
himself wrote the introduction for Brauner's first one-man show in Paris in
1934. Born in Piatra-Neamt, Moldavia, as a boy Brauner visited Vienna with
his parents; pre–World War I Vienna was a popular intellectual center
for Romanians. Like his father, young Brauner was intensely interested in
spiritualism. During his early teens, he studied at an evangelical school
in Brăila, Romania, and developed an interest in both zoology and painting.
He later attended the School of Fine Arts in Bucharest, though only for a
brief period. In 1930, he settled in Paris and met his elder countryman, the
sculptor Constantin Brancusi, for the first time. Almost instantly Brauner
became a celebrity when he exhibited a painting entitled Self-portrait With Enucleated Eye. Sadly, the title was prophetic:
in 1938, he lost his left eye in a brawl in Paris. The loss of his eye was,
he said, "the most important fact of my life." With the outbreak of World
War II, Brauner had to flee Paris; he settled first in the south of France
and finally in Switzerland, where he remained until 1945 when he returned
to Paris. There he remained an important member of the Surrealist movement
even after he was officially expelled by Breton in 1948. During the 1950s,
Brauner studied ceramics and worked for a time in Cannes and Dieppe. He died
in Paris on March 12, 1966, aged 62.
Southgate MT. Acolo. JAMA. 2000;284(17):2155. doi:10.1001/jama.284.17.2155