Victorbrauner portret

Composition with Portrait (1930-1935) by Surrealist artist Victor Brauner

is considered to be part of the Romanian avant-garde through two distinct groups: unu (1928-circa 1932) and the official Romanian Surrealist Group ("S", 1940-1947; partially continued to exist until 1951).

unu (1928-1932)Edit

     See main article: unu.

The unu group held only a loose contact with the French Surrealists; Sașa Pană was in contact with André Breton, but even though the Romanian group used a few Surrealist guidelines, they never proclaimed themselves as Surrealists and held a certain distance. However, after the French group was shook by conflicts due to the Aragon and Eluard issue, a part of the members of unu have adopted as well a more political approach and encouraged excomunications; as a consequence, Virgil Carianopol, Virgil Gheorghiu and even Ilarie Voronca were excomunicated for various reasons. The unu publishing house continued to exist after the magazine itself was closed down by Sașa Pană (with a "homicide" announcement in the last issue), who published some of his texts on the group he led in the volume Sadismul adevărului. The book eventually infuriated the future members of the Romanian Surrealist group, some of whom violently attacked Sașa Pană and his former group in the 1945 book Critica mizeriei.

Sasa pana sadismul adevarului2

Front page of Sadismului adevărului by Sașa Pană (illustrations by Victor Brauner, Marcel Janco, Jarry, Kapralik, Perahim, Picasso, Man Ray and Vaché)

There isn't currently a consensus between avant-garde specialists whether the writers of unu can be considered surrealists or not; some may consider that the orthodox surrealists of the 1940s, being the only self-proclaimed surrealists (let aside the brief so-called "post-surrealist" school of Kalende from the same period), are the only ones who can be tagged as surrealists. Such pigeonholing is hardly relevant though; it is obvious that, for instance, Stephan Roll's Moartea vie a Eleonorei or Ilarie Voronca's Patmos contain surrealist elements. In Marin Mincu's theory, the entire wave between 1924-1932 and consisting of Voronca & comp. could be dubbed as "integralist". The proportions of this synthesis have not been fully explored; not only elements of the various avant-garde sub-movements, but also of symbolism, traditionalism and moderate modernism could be taken into account in future studies.

Romanian Surrealist group (1940-1947/1951)Edit

     See main article: Romanian Surrealist group.

Gherasim Luca

1946: the members of the Surrealist group and their girlfriends (Photo:

and Paul Păun were notorious as early as 1930/1931, when they were part of the Alge group, an offshoot of unu. Virgil Teodorescu had also co-edited in 1932 a similar revue, Liceu. Gellu Naum also contributed slightly later to some ephemere papers of the militant avant-garde, but, collaborating with Victor Brauner, he gained some notoriety with the release of Drumețul incendiar, a volume that was received at the time with transparent scepticism by the literary critics (some of them, like G. Călinescu, did not even write about this or the subsequent books by Naum). Trost frequented the same circles, but, apparently, did not publish much until the group was formed.

The group formed unofficially in 1940-1941, when they co-authored a few one-off books (including, among others, Diamantul conduce mâinile). 1944-1945 marks the first public manifestations. Unlike former phases of the avant-garde, they relied not on magazines (though apparently there was a project of a magazine reserved for 1948, before the group was banned), but on the publication of books and brochures (in the Surrealist collection or published under elusive publishing houses such as Editura Negația Negației or Les Editions de l'Oubli) in both Romanian and French (Trost published exclusively in French) and on exhibitions (of artworks by Paul Păun, for instance).

Marcel-duchamp-book-cover-for-le-surralisme-en-1947-prire-de-toucher-1352233176 b

"Le surréalisme en 1947", exhibition catalogue (front cover by Duchamp)

The year 1947 was the apex point for the group, as their participation at the International Surrealist Exhibition (at Galerie Maeght, Paris) was considered by Breton a real success. Sarane Alexandrian calls the Romanian group "the most exuberant, adventurous and even delirious of the entire international Surrealism".

In the same year, however, Gellu Naum's Albul osului was rejected by censorship and the group is shortly after banned altogether. Some of the members of the group, however, continued to exchange mails between them and with Breton until circa 1951.


Surrealism was banned until the 1960's. Gellu Naum and especially Virgil Teodorescu have been more or less involved in socialist realism, but have resumed publishing their surrealist poems when they could, in the second half of the 1960's. As neomodernism ruled the day, surrealism seemed to be a thing of the past, but held a certain edge and fascination as soon as it was rediscovered. While not a critical darling, Gellu Naum enjoyed by now a cult status among younger poets such as Sebastian Reichmann or Constantin Abăluță. Others, however, reacted against the exaggerations of latter day surrealism and formed oneirism.


"For Gellu Naum" (homage book coordinated by Iulian Tănase)

The influence of the avant-garde, in general, grows even more obvious in the creation of the 1980ist poets. Slowly but surely, appreciation for Gellu Naum grows (especially after the publication of the 1985 novel Zenobia, whose popularity was equaled earlier only by Cartea cu Apolodor) and, after 1989, explodes in a row of awards, new books and reissues (as well as acclaimed translations). As Naum dies in 2001, he is considered "the last great European Surrealist" and becomes the subject of several monographs. Even today he remains popular among readers and influential among writers.

     See main article: Neosurrealism.

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