( Piatra Neamț, 1903 – Paris, 1966)
A leading member of the Romanian avant-garde, Brauner is best known for his explorations of spiritualism, myth, and prediction in which he combined elements of folk or primitive art with the unusual juxtaposition of objects and forms.
Brauner settled in Paris in 1930 and became a friend of his compatriot Constantin Brancusi. Then he met Yves Tanguy, who introduced him to the Surrealists by 1933. André Breton wrote an enthusiastic introduction to the catalogue for Brauner’s first Parisian solo show at the Galerie Pierre in 1934. The exhibition was not well-received, and in 1935 Brauner returned to Bucharest, where he remained until 1938. That year he moved to Paris, lived briefly with Tanguy, and painted a number of works featuring distorted human figures with mutilated eyes. Some of these paintings, dated as early as 1931, proved gruesomely prophetic when he lost his own eye in a scuffle in 1938. At the outset of World War II Brauner fled to the South of France, where he maintained contact with other Surrealists in Marseilles. Later he sought refuge in Switzerland; unable to obtain suitable materials there, he improvised an encaustic from candle wax and developed a graffito technique.
In 1959, he settled in a studio at 72, rue Lepic, in Montmartre. In 1961, he traveled to Italy again. In the same year, New York City's Bodley Gallery mounted a solo exhibition of Brauner's work. He settled in Varengeville in Normandy, where he spent most of his time working.
In 1965, he created an ensemble of object-paintings, grouped under the titles Mythologie and Fêtes des mères. These paintings were made in Varengeville and in Athanor in 1964, where Brauner retreated. His last painting, La fin et le début (made in 1965), reminds us that "when the painter's life ends, his work starts living".
In 1966, he was chosen to represent France at the Venice Biennale, where an entire hall was dedicated to him. He died in Paris as a result of a prolonged illness.