0314 Another Realism: Ion Grigorescu, Photography and Document in 1970s Romania

  • Ileana Parvu (Author)
    Geneva University of Art and Design (HES-SO)

    Ileana Parvu is Associate Professor of History and Theory of Art at the Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD HES-SO), Switzerland, and a senior lecturer at the University of Basel. She has written on the avant-garde of 1910, on notions of object and materiality, and on art-making and techniques after Conceptual Art. She is the author of La peinture en visite. Les constructions cubistes de Picasso (Bern 2007) and La consistance des choses. Peter Fischli, David Weiss et le temps retourné (Aix-en-Provence 2021). She is the editor of Objects in Progress. After the Dematerialisation of Art (Geneva 2012) and the co-editor of Faire, faire faire, ne pas faire. Entretiens sur la production de l’art contemporain (Dijon 2021), and is currently working on a book entitled A Show of Hands: Crafting Concepts in Contemporary Art, to be published by De Gruyter, Berlin. Her article "Reenactment, Repetition, Return. Ion Grigorescu’s Two Dialogues with Ceausescu" was published in Art Margins Online, January 26, 2018.

Identifiers (Article)


In the Romanian context of the 1970s, how was it possible to produce a work of art that the authorities deemed too realistic? How can one understand the critique of an excess of realism when in 1971 the doctrine of Socialist Realism was re-established? This essay examines the notion of realism as forged by Romanian artist Ion Grigorescu. Drawing on recent writings in the theory of photography, it helps us understand how Grigorescu used the photographic medium to produce works, which, whilst adhering to realism’s principles, contravened the regime’s prescriptions. The use the artist made of the term "document" to circumvent official injunctions along with the national and international artistic sources of his work are among the questions addressed in this article to show how, even in a Communist country, dissent could walk on the paths of realism.


global conceptualism, Conceptual art, Socialist Realism, Eastern European contemporary art, suggestion, Arta magazine, Reporting from Gorj, Szathmári Carol