Art in Romania is generally divided into two categories: folk art/crafts and classical art. Around Easter time, Romanians decorate hollowed out eggs and paint them with intricate patterns. Red is a common color with other colors. Depending on the region, the patterns and designs have a secret meaning known only to the people of that region. Other places in Eastern Europe also take up this practice. Ceramics are also an art form, and each region is known for a particular style.
Textile art is a form of functional art. It not only incorporates the dying of fabric, but it also includes other forms of weaving as well as embroidery. Romanian women use these techniques on a variety of items like tablecloths, pillow cases, wall coverings, and clothing. They also weave rugs with folk patterns that include nature scenes and designs.
Masks have links to old folk festivals and are often decorated with feathers, fabric, metallic pieces and beads, straw, and other materials. They’re mostly designed to look like animals. Although glass art has waned a bit, there’s been a growing interest in blown glass art again. (Blown glass art is awesome and should’ve never been left out in the cold like that.) Wood carving is also pretty common as well. Gates and doorways are still pretty common areas to find these elaborate carvings. The actual object is typically something functional, but many of the objects carved into it are of nature: stars, flowers, trees of life, or wolf teeth (the better to eat you, my dear).
One popular tourist spot is the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta. It’s known for its carved and brightly painted wooden crosses that mark the graves. They’re mainly blue. It’s actually become almost like an outdoor museum and now contains more than 800 of these wooden crosses. It was created by artist Stan Ioan Patras in 1935 when he carved the first epitaph. I’m not one for being buried or for crosses, but these are certainly cool to look at.
Painting has long been a tradition in Romania, and many of their artists followed the trends from the rest of Europe. Of course, like a moody teenager, the subject matter changed throughout the years. Some painters who have been influential in Romania’s art history include Paul Paun (surrealism, modernism), Alexandra Nechita (cubism), Marcel Janco (art nouveau, dada, art deco, cubism, post-impressionism), Ion Theodorescu-Sion (post-impressionism, divisionism, art nouveau, fauvism), János Mattis-Teutsch (art nouveau, post-impressionism, abstract art), and many others.
Romanian literature is primarily written in the Romanian language. The earliest known copy of anything written in Romanian is a letter (known as Neacsu's Letter) written in 1521 (still reading your business almost 500 years later). The Eastern Orthodox Church is huge in Romania, and its influence spread pretty far in their culture and literature. Many of the first books written in Romanian are books published by the church.
During the time Romania was under control by the Ottoman Empire, Greek culture was introduced into their culture as well. The Greeks were well known for their epic poetry, and the Romanians developed their love songs in the style of a few choice Greek poets. Comedy was also utilized as a theme in poetry. Along with poetry, Ienăchiță Văcărescu created the first grammar book for Romanian during the 18th century.
|from Ionesco's "The Chairs"|
As talk of independence arose, so did nationalism. Literary journals and literary circles began to form, and a push toward all kinds of genres and styles of written works began to be published. After WWI, Romanian writers really started developing the novel, entering them in the Golden Age. A few writers who gained notoriety during this time include Mihail Sadoveanu, Tristan Tzara, and George Bacovia. After WWII, the literary scene still grew, even during the Communist years to an extent. Marin Preda is one novelist who is often considered one of the more important writers after WWII. Poetry and theatre were two genres that still had quite a push. Eugène Ionesco is one of the more prominent playwrights known for his contributions to the Theatre of the Absurd. I think he’s probably most known for his play called “The Chairs.”
Up next: music and dance