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Victor Brauner Gallery     Full biography.
Victor Brauner (1903-1966)
Victor Brauner was born in Piatra Neamt, Romania. He attended the Art School in Bucharest. In 1924 the Mozart Galleries in Bucharest hosted his first personal exhibition. In 1933, Andre Breton opened Brauner’s first personal exhibition in Paris, at the Pierre Gallery. After WWII, he took part to the Venice biannual exhibition. He created a series of paintings called "lycanthropic" or sometimes "chimeras" and an ensemble of object-paintings full of inventiveness and vivacity, grouped under the titles "Mythologie" and "Fêtes des mères".
Prelude to a Civilization
Consciousness of Shock


Consciousness of Shock, April 1951.
Encaustic on board, 64 x 80 cm. Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

A symbolic struggle is expressed between the human and bird halves of the hybrid form in Consciousness of Shock, in which Victor Brauner portrays a complex boat-shaped figure in the course of battling for control of itself. Drawn in the schematic profile style of Egyptian hieroglyphs, a large androgynous head unites with the raised prow of a boat elaborated with breasts. The body of the vessel, directed by rudderlike legs and feet, merges at the stern with the upright body of a bird. Two powerful hands, at the ends of crossed arms, suppress the internal battle by restraining the limbs of the bird, while a third hand doggedly forges progress along the river by paddling. Thus, in keeping with the nature of much psychic conflict, a difficult internal struggle is self-contained, while the vessel-self continues along a predetermined route.
Nicolas Calas has suggested that Brauner was inspired by two Egyptian themes, the “Sun Barge” and the “Heavenly Vault,” in the creation of this image.1 While a generalized Egyptian style undoubtedly influenced Brauner’s imagery, it seems more likely that the artist derived this fantastic visual vocabulary from his own imagination, rather from specific art-historical sources.
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