During May, at the Fine Arts Museum Antipa Street No. 2, the public can watch the work of Iosif Iser, Elders at coffee house, belonging to the collection of modern and contemporary graphics.
He was born in 1881 in Bucharest, but he made his high school studies in Ploieşti, where he moved with his family. He has started to work since he was a pupil and he exhibited his works in the windows of the bookstores in town and so he won a prize at a contest organized by the artistic movement “Tinerimea Română” (Romanian Youth).
Between 1899 and 1904 Iser studied painting in Munich, attending the classes of the Royal Academy of Art. He returned to Romania in 1904 and he opened his first personal exhibition at Ploiesti. He soon moved to Bucharest where he worked for the “Adevărul” newspaper as drawer and caricaturist, but he also co-operated with publications such as “Belgia Orientului” and “Furnica”.
In 1905 he took part in the exhibition of “Tinerimea artistica” and in 1906 he had his first personal exhibition in Bucharest.
He left for Paris to study at Ranson Academy and he collaborated with drawings at the satirical publications “Les Témoins” and “Le Rire”. When he came back to Romania he organized the first modern art exhibition at the Athenaeum and, apart from his works, he exhibited the works of Derain and of the caricaturist Forain. In this period he also cooperated with the magazine of socialist orientation “Facla”. 50 potrait drawings which appeared in the pages of this magazine were reunited in the album “Figuri contimporane” in 1913.
Iser discovers the fascinating world of Dobrogea, the people and places in Dobrogea recur obsessively in his works. The light and the color of the Black Sea coast play an important part for his painting and become striking after the 1920’s. In this period he settles in Paris for many years but he also exhibits in Bucharest.
In 1926 he takes part in the Secession Exhibition in Berlin and in the 1930’s he is present at numerous exhibitions in Paris, Bucharest, Brussels, Hague and Amsterdam. The most remarkable event was the retrospective exhibition in Bucharest from 1936, when he exhibited 431 works. Iser is one of the founders of the artistic group “Arta”, together with George Petraşcu and Ştefan Popescu, all of them distinguished with the First Prize at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1937.
Despite the racial persecutions, Iser continues to exhibit, revealing for this is the exhibition “Light and color” from 1943. After the war the artist is present at various group event and personal exhibitions in New York (1948), Moscow and St. Petersburg (1956), Vienna (1957), The Biennale from Venice (1954). Iser’s artistic merits are acknowledged through important state distinctions and the fact that he became a member of the Romanian Academy in 1955.
Iosif Iser, one of the most prolific and appreciated Romanian artists, had a remarkable role in the formation of Romanian public’s taste for modern art. His style has evolved from angular compositions, specific to the period of creation until after First World War when cubistic influences can be detected, to harmonic compositions as drawing and color which are under the sign of moderated modernism of expressionistic type, with an obvious lyrical tint which have marked his work after the second prolonged staying in Paris. Representative for this category are his landscapes from Dobrogea or Toledo, his scenes of the interior and his portraits – such as the remarkable drawing in coal: “The Jewish with the Book”.
The color is a deep spiritual side; it is a dramatic process between the artist and the outside world ….
(Iosif Iser, Flacăra magazine interview)