The international conference “The ‘state artist’ in Romania and Eastern Europe” (5 November 2016, Department of Political Science, University of Bucharest)

Caterina Preda's picture
November 5, 2016
Subject Fields: 
Eastern Europe History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Political Science, Sociology, Cultural History / Studies


Please accept our invitation to the conference

The international conference “The ‘state artist’ in Romania and Eastern Europe” (5 November 2016, Department of Political Science, University of Bucharest).

The establishment of communist regimes in Eastern Europe signified for the visual arts, the consolidation of the “state artist”. Artworks were commissioned by the state, which offered extensive rewards to artists, who were also forced to comply with the political and ideological rigors of the new regime. The presentations included in this conference program try to explore the different transformations that the artists underwent in order to comply with the extensive role assumed by the communist state in the artistic field with a specific focus on the visual arts, and the Union of Visual Artists (Uniunea Artiștilor Plastici, UAP). The conference aims to discuss the state artist in the context of communist regimes from multiple points of views.

The topics discussed are: How was the new artist shaped by the communist regimes? Were artists able to integrate Socialist Realism as a mandatory style? If not, which were the limits of this mandatory style or the national specificities? Which were the types of resistance to the model of the state artist? How did Socialist Realism translate in different visual practices? What role did the Union of Visual Artists of Romania play? How does it compare to other unions in the East? What are the transformations of the unions of artists after 1990? The presentations will situate the Romanian case in a regional perspective, and provide a comparative overview of the situation in South-Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the presentations deal with other artistic expressions besides the visual arts, such as theater, cinema, literature or architecture. This conference is part of the research project “From the ‘state artist’ to the artist dependent on the state: the case of the Union of Visual Artists (1950-2010) – the Bucharest branch” (PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-0243, Contract 206/2015, director Caterina Preda), financed by UEFISCDI and based at the Center for the Study of Equal Opportunity Policies (CPES), Department of Political Science, University of Bucharest.


8.30-9.00 Introduction by the organizing team

9.00 – 11.00 SESSION 1 The Union of Visual Artists (UAP) in Romania 1, chair: Caterina Preda

  • Caterina Preda (Lecturer, PhD, Department of Political Science, University of Bucharest), The state artist in Romania and Eastern Europe: a theoretical overview
  • Dan Drăghia (Lecturer, PhD, Department of Political Science, University of Bucharest), "Comrade Artist!” Prestige and profit in the labor organization of the Romanian visual arts during communism
  • Dumitru Lăcătușu, (PhD researcher CPES, University of Bucharest), The visual artists and the Securitate. Between collaboration and disavowal
  • Alina Popescu (PhD, researcher Cerefrea, CPES, University of Bucharest), Unions of artists in Communist Romania: An institutional comparison of the Filmmakers’ Association and of the Visual Artists’ Union (UAP)
  • Cristina Stoenescu (MA, researcher CPES, University of Bucharest), The reform of the Union of Visual Artists of Romania (UAP) after 1990: the case of Atelier 35

11.00 – 11.30 Coffee break

11.30-13.30 SESSION 2 The Union of Visual Artists (UAP) in Romania 2, chair Caterina Preda

  • Alice Mocănescu (PhD, Independent Researcher), The July Theses as a Game Changer: The reception of the July Theses within the Romanian Artists’ Union
  • Mirela Tanța (PhD, College of Fine Arts, Millikin University), The Commissioned Image of Nicolae Ceausescu: From Socialist Realism to Neo-Socialist Realism
  • Alexandra Preda (MA, CEU Budapest), Discursive Oppositions and Documentary Practices in the Archives of the Union of Visuals Artists during the 1980s
  • Claudiu Oancea (PhD, NEC fellow), Claiming Art for Themselves: State Artists versus Amateur Artists in Art Exhibitions within the Song of Romania Festival (1976-1989)

11.30 – 13.30 SESSION 3: The Union of Visual Artists (UAP) in Romania 3, chair Alina Popescu

  • Magda Predescu (curator, Museum of Contemporary Art of Romania), The Role of the UAP in the formation of the state artist
  • Monica Enache (curator, National Museum of Art of Romania), Mechanisms of coercion and control over the artistic act: the relationship between the UAP, the Plastic Fund, and artists (1948-1965)
  • Maria Orosan Telea, (PhD, University of Timișoara). The portrait of a state artist: Awards and distinctions received by the sculptor Ion Irimescu during communism
  • Andreea Lazea (PhD, Lecturer, Faculty of Art and Design, West University of Timișoara/ CEREFREA), Public art in Socialist Romania: resistance strategies

13.30-14.30 Lunch break

14.30-16.30 SESSION 4: Other artists’ unions: literature & theater, chair Alina Popescu

  • Lucia Dragomir (Lecturer, Faculty of Foreign Languages and literatures, University of Bucharest), The state writer. A case study of the Union of writers, a transnational institution in communist times
  • Miruna Runcan (Professor, PhD, Theater Department, Babes-Bolyai University Cluj),The coronation of ‘the accompanying comrade’. Sică Alexandrescu – A case study
  • Mihai Lukacs (Independent Researcher), From theatrical entrepreneurs to soul engineers: the emergence of the socialist state artists
  • Răduț Bîlbîie (Assistant Professor, MEN), The education of future visual artists in the first years of popular power (1948-1955) A comparison with the young writers at the School of literature and literary critique Mihai Eminescu
14.30-16.30 SESSION 5: State artists in South-Eastern Europe chair, Cristina Stoenescu
  • Ina Belcheva (PhD candidate Université Paris 1), State commissions and artistic limits in 1950s Bulgaria: the case of Lyubomir Dalchev
  • Irina Cărăbaș (PhD, Lecturer Department of Art Theory, University of Art of Bucharest), Bilateral Agreements in the Balkans: the Socialist Artistic Identity before UAP and the International Exchanges
  • Agata Rogos (PhD candidate, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań), ‘Busts in our heads’, images of Enver Hoxha in Communist Albania
  • Vladana Putnik (research associate, Art History Department, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade), From Socialist Realism to Socialist Aestheticism: The Question of the State Architect in Yugoslavia (1945-1990)

16.30-17.00 Coffee break

17.00-19.00 SESSION 6: State artists in the Soviet Union, chair Dan Drăghia

  • Cécile Vaissié (Professor, University of Rennes), The Soviet Union of Cinema: Reflection, Moving Force and Victim of Perestroika (1986-1991)
  • Vera Otdelnova (PhD candidate at the State Institute for Art Studies in Moscow), The Moscow art ‘Youth exhibitions’ in the 1960s and 1970s. Prudent progress against omnipotent censorship
  • Muromtseva Olga (Assistant Professor, Department of the Moscow State Stroganov Academy of Design and Applied Arts), Unofficial artists and the Soviet system: the ways of co-existing.
  • Michael Brodski (Associate Lecturer at the Institute for Film, Theatre and Empirical Cultural Studies at the University of Mainz), The Soviet State Artists Alexander Ptushko and Alexander Rou and their Ambivalent Construction of Fairy Tale Films
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