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Self Portrait, Victor Brauner (84.8)

Self Portrait, Victor Brauner
Victor Brauner
(Romanian, 1903–1966)
Self-Portrait
1923
Oil on paper
(84.8)
Gift of Saul and Gladys Weinberg
 

Director's Comments
I've always found Brauner a challenging and complex artist; this is an early work dating from before his association with the surrealist movement. While the Museum's curatorial staff has pointed to compositional similarities with Edvard Munch's The Scream, I tend to see it as fitting tightly into a whole series of Brauner's works from 1923, including Muncitoare (Factory Girl; now in the Tulcea Museum, Romania), Old Woman and Two Young Women, and Salome. Beyond the compositional similarities, there may be a metonymic play between Munch and Muncitoare - for other artists I'd think that a bit of a stretch, but not for Brauner.

One reason I find this self-portrait so intriguing is that Brauner rarely paints himself with two eyes. Normally one is painted as a mechanism or a wound (as in Autoportrait, 1931), or with the eyes and other facial features moved from the face to an anatomically-reversed hand (Autoportrait, 1937). This fact is celebrated as premonitory in Surrealism; in 1938 Brauner loses that eye while trying to separate friends fighting in a bar. I'm not aware of any self-portraits from after 1923 showing both eyes in their usual positions.

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Muncitoare
Victor Brauner
Muncitoare
(Factory Girl)
1923

Brauner photo
Victor Brauner
1966 photograph

Autoportrait
Victor Brauner
Autoportrait
1931

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