Contemporary Romanian Art in the United States1
The article discusses the recent international interest in contemporary Romanian art and its growth in market share, with a focus on the United States. The theme is followed thorough in numerous museum exhibitions, increased collector following, art fair presence, gallery representation and auction activity initially in Europe and the United States. The phenomenon is discussed both in the context of the larger international movement conducive to the contemporary art price bubble, and in that of the local socio-economic changes. My chief interest lies in the factors leading up to the entry of post 1989 Romanian art in the global arena as a manifestation of market forces in the field. The analysis follows its grass roots local emergence through non-profit institutions, individual artists, small publications, low budget galleries, as well as the lack of contribution (with few notable exceptions) of state institutions, while pointing out the national context of increasing deregulation of social support systems resulting in lack of focus on cultural manifestations. The conclusion is that the recent ascent of contemporary Romanian art (and coincidentally, the award winning contemporary Romanian cinematography) is a fortuitous convergence of various factors, among which, increased international mobility and sharing. At the same time, it is also the result of the evolution of various individual artists that pursued a form of art rooted in Romanian artistic tradition but with a focus on the symbolic figurative. The result is a personal semiotics of raising the mundane to extraordinary levels that reconfigured the anxiety of entering a new system into an unmistakable and lasting visual language.
Keywords: Contemporary, art, visual, deregulation, auction, gallery, artist, figurative, symbolic, Romanian