Ion Bitzan


Born Ion Bițan, on the 23rd of August in Limanu, a small village in the southeastern Romania. Both parents were farmers. He had a younger brother, Neculai (1930-2011).

Elementary and first years of secondary school in Limanu.



Continues his secondary school education in Târgu-Mureş (Şcoala Normală de Învăţători), a city in north-central Romania.



The start of WWII. Romania adopted first a position of neutrality but officially joined the Axis powers on the 23rd of November, 1940. From August 1944, to the end of the war, Romania was on the side of the Allies.



Târgu-Mureş is ceded back to Hungary.

Bitzan is transferred to the school in Focsani. In October that year Focsani is hit by a strong earthquake and the city was reported in ruins. He is transferred to the school in Târgu Jiu.



July-November Is drafted in the Regiment 36 Infantry Cernavodă. Was not active on the war front.



June Receives his secondary school diploma.

End of the WWII.

Enrolls at the Academy of Fine Arts, Bucharest, the class of Jean Alexandru Steriadi.



December 30, following the abdication of King Michael, Romania becomes Romanian People's Republic.

Becomes a member of the Romanian Communist Party.



The art association (Fondul Plastic, FP) is established, replacing the Composers, Painters and Sculptors House, which had existed since 1940.

Starts working as an illustrator for the newspaper "Flacăra".



He becomes ill (tuberculosis) and repeats his fifth year at The Institute of Fine Arts "Nicolae Grigorescu".

The Romanian Fine Arts Union (Uniunea Artiștilor Plastici, UAP) is established, based on a previous institution, the Syndicate of Fine Arts , founded in 1921.

The Academy of Fine Arts becomes the Institute of Fine Arts "Nicolae Grigorescu".

The Museum of Art of the Popular Republic of Romania (PRR) is founded in the former Royal Palace in Bucharest. M.H. Maxy is the first director, and will remain in this function until his death in 1971.



Completes his last year at the Institute of Fine Arts "Nicolae Grigorescu".

Becomes member of The Romanian Fine Arts Union.

Continues to work as an illustrator for newspapers and books ("Calatorind prin URSS" by Zaharia Stancu).



His first participation at a state organized graphic exhibition.



Together with friend and fellow artist Paul Gherasim (1925-12016) he makes 7 frescoes for Casa de creație UAP, Șos. Kiseleff, Bucharest.

The Art Museum in Limanu, Constanța County is opened. It consists of works donated by the Fine Arts Union. There are three works by Bitzan: CR#102 CR#103 CR#115


June Bitzan receives his diploma from the Institute of Fine Arts "Nicolae Grigorescu". Research so far cannot explain why he takes his diploma 12 years after completing university.

October Starts working as substitute lecturer at the Stage Design Department of the Fine Arts Institute in Bucharest.



January Becomes member of the syndicate "Arte Plastice" of the Institute of Fine Arts "Nicolae Grigorescu".

July The Securitate (Romanian communist secret political police) opens a file of informative surveillance.

July to September Attends summer classes (painting and sculpture) at Accademia di Belle Arti "Pietro Vannucci" Perugia, Italia.

Is selected to represent Romania at the Biennale di Venezia together with Ion Gheorghiu, Ion Pacea, Boris Caragea. Kristine Stiles writes that "Robert Rauschenberg’s exhibition made a lasting impression on the Romanian artist (Bitzan), prompting him to investigate object art, collage, assemblage and other neo-avant-garde modes of production over the course of the 1960s" (literature link)

While Bitzan is in Italy, his wife Nety applies for and receives a passport to travel to Italy. He returns to Romania, the same day she travels to Italy, so they did not meet. Later in December she sends a telegram letting him know that she met someone else, shall not return to Romania and wishes to divorce. Bitzan is put under surveillance by the Romanian secret police and his telephone is being tapped. They officially divorce on February, 12 1965.



Marries Viky Tantas, 19 years younger, on 05.06.1965 in Bucharest. Viky (Victoria Aurelia) is born on July 6, 1943 in Negrești-Oaș, a small town in  northwestern Romania, in the county of Satu Mare. Satu Mare was part of Hungary between 1940 and 1945. Viky's father, Vasile Tantas (1911-2010) was a lawyer and a prominent member of the local branch of the Liberal Party. Her mother (Olga Carp -1995) was a teacher. As of 1948 Vasile is not allowed to work as a lawyer, because he had an "antidemocratic attitude". Between 1952-1954 he is in jail (Ghencea and Vacaresti). In 1995 he is accepted as a lawyer in the Satu Mare bar.



July First one-man show in Poznan opens at Arsenal Gallery, Poznan, Poland. As of now he will exhibit, at least abroad, under the name  Ion Bitzan.

November Irina, his only child, is born in Bucharest.



Receives Cultural Merit Order Class III.

Donates the painting Portret de fată (Portret, 1964 (168)) to the Lidice Memorial Museum, Lidice, Czech Republic.

Scottish gallerist Richard Demarco visits several artists's studios in Bucharest, including Bitzan's.

December Interview for the radio program "Arte Frumoase", at Radio România



June-August Bitzan is artist-in-residence at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

July Solo show at Panorama Mesdag, The Hague.




June-August Artist-in-residence at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

Solo show at Panorama Mesdag, The Hague.

Exhibits with Richard Demarco Gallery at the Edinburgh Arts Festival.



Receives the Critic's Award from the Romanian Fine Arts  Union.

Award Ceremony, December 1972, © Eugeniu Lupu.



Creates, for Color Centre Planning Tokyo, a colour code system in order to translate hai-ku. The project was not finalized.

Exhibits with Julian Mereuta (1943-2016) at Galateea Gallery, Bucharest. Possible that Mereuta introduced Bitzan to Jindřich Chalupecký, the Czech literary and art critic, theoretician and historian. 



Member of the panel at the City of Glasgow International Festival of Youth Art and Craft. 

While in Glasgow he meets artist and friend Paul Neagu, who permanently moved to UK in 1970.

Receives the medal "30 de ani de la eliberarea Romaniei de sub dominatia fascista".


The Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb buys his work Indéchiffrable III



Becomes lecturer at the Design Department of the Institute of Fine Arts, Bucharest.



On March 4th, a powerful earthquake strikes Romania, with 90% of the fatalities in Bucharest; he breaks his foot, his studio gets destroyed and a vast proportion of his works are lost and/or stolen. In the morning after the earthquake, together with his father-in-law and a close student, Paul Turtureanu, he tries to rescue his works.

Associate Professor at the Design Department of the Institute of Fine Arts, Bucharest.


Exhibits at MoMA P.S.1, New York, and is visiting professor at the art universities of New York, Washington, San Francisco and Philadelphia (International Visitor Program of the USICA). His interpreter is the French photographer J. S. Cartier (1932-2016), emigrated in 1951 to the United States. They became friends and continue to exchange lettres for a couple of years. This is a photograph taken by Jean Cartier in San Francisco.


Receives "Titlul de laureat" (Festivalul Cantarea Romaniei) for the painting "Vizita de lucru".


Appointed Head of the Design Department at the Institute of Fine Arts, Bucharest.

Exhibits at Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast. The exhibition travells in 1986 to Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland.


Selected to represent Romania at the Biennale di Venezia, together with Geta Bratescu and Napoleon Tiron. For as yet unknown reasons, Romania did not participate anymore at that edition.


The Romanian revolution starts and students of the Institute of Fine Arts rebel against the teachers.


Photo's: © Tiberiu Pop


Designs the trophy for the UNITER (The Romanian Association of Theatre Artists) award. The UNITER Awards Gala is organised every year, starting with 1991, and it awards the Theatre Union's distinctions for the prevoius calendar year.

Appointed Professor at the Design Department of the Institute of Fine Arts, Bucharest and Dean of the Faculty of Decorative Arts and Design.

Solo-show at the Narrow Water Gallery, Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland (left ro right: Irina Bitzan, Ion Bitzan, Jennifer Johnston, Maeve Hall, Kate Robinson).




The Institute of Fine Arts changes its name in the Art Academy Bucharest.


His mother (1906-1993) dies in January and is buried at the Limanu cemetery.

The Art Academy joins the International Council of Fine Arts Deans (ICFAD) and Bitzan participates in November at the business meeting in Madrid.



Receives Art's Academy Bucharest Award.

Solo shows in Paris (Romanian Cultural Institute) and Bath, UK, HotBath Gallery.

Is diagnosed with chronic leukemia, refuses to undergo medical treatment.

His daughter Irina moves permanently to the Netherlands.


His father dies and is burried next to his wife in the local cemetery in Limanu.

Receives "Special Award" (Romanian Fine Arts Union).

Here with Dorina Mitrică-Nestor, wife of Alexandru Nestor, former student of Bitzan, at the award ceremony;




Emil Huston (Hustiu), friend and former student, is visiting him at his studio in Bucharest;

His second participation at the Romanian Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia, attends the construction of the Romanian Pavilion and the opening of the exhibition.

September, 15 Ion Bitzan passes away at the Coltea Hospital in Bucharest; his wife Viky is by his side. He is buried in the Bellu Cemetery, Bucharest;



March Donation to the Trans Canadian Trail, by friend and former student Emil Huston (Hustiu).

Exhibition Homage to Ion Bitzan at the National Museum of Art of Romania, Department of Contemporary Art.

The Art Academy is accredited as a university.

Two works donated to the National Museum of Art of Romania, Department of Contemporary Art, by the Estate Ion Bitzan.



The first website designed by former student Emil (Hustiu) Huston is launched.



The Art Academy changes its name in National University of Arts (Universitatea Naţională de Artă, UNarte).



The Ion Bitzan Foundation is established. It is registered at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, number 65587332.



Solo-show at the Central University Library of Bucharest.

A major retrospective exhibition is organized at the National Museum of Contemporary Art – MNAC Bucharest.



Viky, his second wife, is diagnosed with acute leukemia and passes away in April at the Coltea Hospital in Bucharest.



Design UNArte: A Visual History of the Bucharest School (1969-2019)], exhibition at the National Museum of Art of Romania, dedicated to 50 years of design in the Romanian higher education. Paul Bortnowski (1922-2007), Ion Bitzan, Hainoroc Constatinescu (1929-2011) and Vladimir Șetran (1935-2022) were the founding fathers of the department.