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The Cover
November 1, 2000


Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2000;284(17):2155. doi:10.1001/jama.284.17.2155

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.