Romania's National Museum of Art, opposite the Ateneul Roman, consists of three different collections, exhibited in part of the expansive former Royal Palace on Piata Revolutiei. Of these, the most important are the Gallery of Romanian Medieval Art (almost exclusively devoted to icons, images, and carved objects related to religious pursuits), on the first floor, and the Gallery of Romanian Modern Art, above it. The latter provides a thorough overview of the evolution of 19th- and 20th-century painting and sculpture, working almost chronologically over two floors. It's an excellent place to discover the work of Gheorghe Tattarescu (1818-94), Theodor Aman (whose 19th-c. street scenes of popular tourist towns provide an excellent comparative study for some of the places you might visit), Karl Storck, Ioan Andreescu, sculptor Frederick Storck (look out for his fabulous The Mystery, 1925), the marvelous Impressionist Stefan Luchian (1868-1916), and Theodor Pallady, who painted a great number of naked ladies. There's a lively selection of works by the Impressionists, abstract expressionists, and Cubists; Marcel Iancu's Portrait of a Man is a brilliant Cubist-inspired work, worth seeking out, as is -- for different reasons -- Jean Davis's Portrait of a Woman, which looks like a precursor for Beavis and Butthead. The most important work here is the handful of otherworldly sculptures by Constantin Brâncusi (1876-1953); spend some time studying Sleep (1908), and then give your attention to The Prayer (1907), in which he renders a young female subject in an impossible kneeling position to stupendous effect. More wonderful sculpture includes Oscar Han's The Kiss (1924), and the only male nude on display, Study of a Male Nude, by Alexandru Pla[ac]ma[ac]deala[ac].
From the Romanian art collections, cross the courtyard to get to the less gripping Gallery of European Art, with its collection of 2,233 paintings, 578 sculptures, and 9,189 pieces of decorative art. Some astonishing lithographs are kept here, depicting amusing historical scenes as well as quite terrible images of death and disease.
- © Frommer's 2013
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