Saturday, August 7, 2021

Corneliu Baba

Corneliu Baba (1906–1997) was a Romanian painter, primarily a portraitist, but also known as a genre painter and an illustrator of books.

Having first studied under his father, the academic painter Gheorghe Baba, Baba studied briefly at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Bucharest but did not receive a degree.

Shortly after his 1948 official debut with a painting called The Chess Player at the Art Salon in Bucharest, he was arrested and briefly imprisoned in Galata Prison in Iaşi. The following year he was suspended without explanation from his faculty position and moved from Iaşi to Bucharest.

Despite an initially uneasy relationship with communist authorities who denounced him as formalist, Baba soon established himself as an illustrator and artist. In 1955 he was allowed to travel to the Soviet Union and won a Gold Medal in an international exhibition in Warsaw, Poland. 

In 1956, Baba accompanied The Chess Player and two other paintings showed at the Venice Biennale, after which the paintings travelled on to exhibits in Moscow, Leningrad, and Prague.

In 1988, Baba was seriously injured by an accident in his studio and was immobilized for several months. In 1990, following the Romanian Revolution, he was elevated to titular membership in the Romanian Academy. Shortly before his death in 1997, Baba published his memoir, Notes by an Artist of Eastern Europe. He was posthumously awarded the Prize for Excellence by the Romanian Cultural Foundation.

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