Ion Bitzan

1924

Ion Bitzan's birth certificateBorn 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

1937

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

1939

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 warRomania was on the side of the Allies

1940

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

1944

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

1945

June Receives his secondary school diploma

 

 

 

 

End of the WWII

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

1947

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

Becomes a member of the Romanian Communist Party

 

1949

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"Illustration Flacara newspaper, 17 September 1949

1950

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

1951

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)

1952

Marries Nety Haimovici (1924-2019), a graphic artist; they studied at the Institute at the same time

1953

His first participation at a state organized graphic exhibition

1954

1959

1961

Revista Arta plastica (after 1969 is called Arta) is established

Together with Paul Gherasim 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

1963

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

1964

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".

(1993 “Shaved Heads and Marked Bodies: Representations from Cultures of Trauma,” in Strategie II: Peuples Mediterraneens [Paris] 64-65 (July-December 1993): 95-117; reprinted with a new Afterword in Jean O'Barr, Nancy Hewitt, Nancy Rosebaugh, eds., Talking Gender: Public Images, Personal Journeys, and Political Critiques (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996): 36-64.).

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.

December 

Letter from Mircea Deac to the Sales Department of the Biennale di Venezia, instructing that the payment for the work Garofani (Garoafe, 1963 (160)) should be done in the account of the Popular Republic of Romania/CCES, opened at the Commercial Bank of Rome. At that time the work was the property of the National Museum of Art of Romania (inv. # 7188/68302). Mircea Deac was the curator of the Romanian Pavilion in 1966 (right top)

Letter from the Sales Department to Mircea Deac, informing him that Nety Heimovici, wife of the artist, wishes that the payment be done in cash, directly to her (right bottom).

Nety sends him 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;

 

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. 

1966

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.

Two letters from the sales department of the Biennale di Venezia, informing, that till then, no one has claimed the payment for the work Garofani (Garoafe, 1963 (160)). 

It is still unknown if the payment was ever claimed;

1967

Letter from M.H. Maxy, director of the Art Museum of RSR (at present National Museum of Art of Romania). Bitzan has to pay within 3 days 6000 lei (the Romanian currency at the time), the equivalent of the sold work (Garoafe, 1963 (160)span>) in 1964 at the Biennale di Venezia. The work was in 1964 the property of the museum;

1968

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;

1969

January In Sala Dalles, Bucharest opens The Disappereance and Reappereance of the image - Painting in teh United States Since 1945. It is organized by the Smithsonian Institution International Art Program. Itinarated to: Muzeul Banatului, Timisoara, Romania (February 14 - March 1, 1969); Galeria de Arta, Cluj, Romania (March 14 - April 2, 1969);

February Together with Paul Neagu, Peter Jacobi and Ritzi Jacobi exhibits at Bauzentrum Hamburg; the exhibition is itinerated at Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh;

    

Correspondence from artist and friend Paul Neagu (1938-2004);

     

Together with architect Paul Bortnowski, painter Vladimir Șetran and graphic artist Hainoroc Constantinescu, Ion Bitzan establishes the Industrial Forms Design Department at The Fine Arts Institute "Nicolae Grigorescu" in Bucharest;

Participates in the 8th International Exhibition of Graphic Art, Ljublajana; Prix d'achat de la Maison DOM, Ljubljana for the woodcut "Compoziție nr I" (Compoziția nr. II din ciclul Cadențe, 1968 (320));

The Disappearance and Reappearance of the Image: American Painting Since 1945 (January 17–February 2, 1969) was the title of the exhibition organized by International Art Program, National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. at the Dalles Exhibition Hall in Bucharest. 

1970

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

July Solo show at Panorama Mesdag, The Hague;

       

1971

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;

1972

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


Award Ceremony, December 1972, © Eugeniu Lupu.

1973

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. Works Generator de imagini/imagistic fila 24, 1972 (637), Generator imagistic 20, 1972 (634), Generator de imagini 23, 1972 (636), and Untitled, 1972 (640) have the provenance Estate of Jindřich Chalupecký; 

1974

Member of the panel at the City of Glasgow International Festival of Youth Art and Craft. Meets artist and friend Paul Neagu, who permanently moved to UK in 1970 (below left & center).

Receives the medal "30 de ani de la eliberarea Romaniei de sub dominatia fascista" (below right);

   

The Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb for the work buys his work Indéchiffrable III, 1973 (706)

 

1975

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

1977

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 (below left);

Associate Professor at the Design Department of the Institute of Fine Arts, Bucharest (below right);

 

1981

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);

1983

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

1985

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;

1986

Selected to represent Romania at the Biennale di Venezia, together with Geta Bratescu and Napoleon Tiron; Romania did not participate anymore at that edition;

1989

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

  
 

Photo's: © Tiberiu Pop

1990

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);

 

1991

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

1993

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;

    

1994

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;

1995

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

Receives "Special Award" (Romanian Fine Arts Union) (right);

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

 

1997

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;

1998

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;

1999

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

2001  The Art Academy changes its name in National University of Arts (Universitatea Naţională de Artă, UNarte);
2016

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

2017-2018

Solo-show at the Central University Library of Bucharest;

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

2018 Viky, his second wife, is diagnosed with acute leukemia and passes away in April at the Coltea Hospital in Bucharest;
2019

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.