(1908 - 1975)
Dimitri Berea was active/lived in New York, California / France, Romania. Dimitri Berea is known for female figure and portrait painting-celebrities.
Biography from RoGallery.com
Born to an upper middle class family in Bacau, Romania, Dimitrie Berea
became an artist who would later be known by some persons as painter to
the aristocratic and royal families of Europe and the art world of
France and America. His father was a lawyer-politician, and his
mother was a painter trained at the French Ecole des Beaux Arts.
Many parents would consider art a less than suitable career choice, but
Dimitrie's maternal family had been involved in the arts for a number
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So at the age of nineteen, Dimitrie entered the Academy of
Architecture, in Bucharest where he spent the next five years.
While in the Academy, he and his master teacher, Theodorescu-Sion and a
student friend, founded a non-conformist painting academy called
"ILEANA". This academy/school served progressive young
artists. During the 1930s he became a rising young Romanian
In 1937, the Italian government invited him to come to
Rome and enroll "with compensation" at the Royal Academy of Fine Art to
study painting, decoration, sculpture, scene-painting and
engraving. The following year the Romanian government paid his
expenses at the Roman Academy. Meanwhile he exhibited in various
invitational exhibitions, hung one-person shows in private galleries in
Romania and Italy and also traveled to Paris.
In Paris (1939) he was an habitué of Marie Fontaine-Desjardins' salon
where he met the latter day Impressionists Bonnard and Vuillard and the
Fauve artists Matisse and Van Dongen. Dimitrie Berea would later
consider himself a pupil of Bonnard, or perhaps better, in sympathy
with Bonnard's painting style, paint application and color
choices. In 1942 at the age of thirty-four, Berea received a
diploma in each of the five branches of art he studied while at the
Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Rome.
During the late summer of 1942, Berea hung a one-person show at the Palazzo Lancellotto, Rome, where the book Berea,
written by poet and art historian Mario Rivosecchi, was available to
the exhibition audience. Giuseppe Galassi, Antonio Petrucci and
S. A. Luciani wrote a text about Berea for his exhibition at
Kretzulescu Gallery's Caminul Artei, Bucharest (1944); and still
another book, this time written by Andre Warnod and also titled Berea was published in 1949. Here Warnod called Berea "a new apostle of the Paris School".
Concurrent with a 1951 exhibition of Venetian Landscapes (Galeria Cavalino, Venice) Berea wrote and published his Venice Manifesto,
which was later translated into Catalan and English. Biographical
time lines, lists citing collectors and museums and quotes from various
personalities and literati were published throughout his career in
During the 1950s, Dimitre Berea became a
French citizen and an active lecturer. These lectures were frequently
associated with theme based exhibitions; for example he spoke formally
about his "Profession of Faith", "The work of art in its proper
setting, "Atmosphere and climate", "Art confronted by the abstract" and
"The creative phenomenon". His text and lecture concerning the Venice Manifesto was hotly contested in a number of different settings.
the 1960s Berea was a frequent visitor to New York City, Miami, Palm
Beach, San Francisco and Hollywood, and at the same time had apartments
in New York City, Paris and San Francisco.
His first exhibition (1961) in the United States was at the Aquavella
Gallery, in New York City. Berea continued to be a landscape
painter of "proper settings" while in the United States, but he also
became a painter to the Hollywood community. Throughout his career he
had accepted commissions as a portrait painter, but in this decade he
received numerous commissions as painter to Hollywood movie stars.
met and married a California socialite after his very successful
retrospective at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. However,
this marriage ended in divorce. In 1972, after having known her for
three years, Berea married Princess Alice Gurielli. She had fled
Europe after her family estates and property had been confiscated by
the Communist government and had been imprisoned in utter privation for
three years under Stalin. Her grandfather had been King of
Georgia. She, a Romanian refugee (1966) sponsored by the Orthodox
Church, drove a taxi in New York City, lived in Harlem, and worked as a
charwoman for numerous Romanian families in the New York metropolitan
area. Princess Alice brought to the marriage good looks, charm,
cultured sophistication and good business sense.
was a "typical artist". He wore his heart on his sleeve, was a
romantic, was religious, loved people-especially beautiful women, lived
his life to paint, and had his head in the stars while his feet never
touched the ground. He was an incompetent money manager and seemed
always to be in debt. When Princess Alice married him on May 25, 1972,
she essentially served as a manager of his talents, both painting and
Princess Alice described the marriage as "an unbelievably chaotic
adventure". Their bliss was cut short by Dimitrie's death to colon
cancer January 14, 1975 in Paris. After a Latin mass at the Madeleine
he was interred in Paris' Père Lachaise Cemetery. Dimitrie's
remaining art works became the property of Princess Alice after a
contested will. Many works were sold, but the remaining oil
paintings and all the drawings, watercolors and prints are to be given
to Berea College.
Berea as a Painter
Various literati, patrons and gallery owners have written about Berea as a painter.
N. N. Tonitza (Bucharest, 1934) said:
lives in continual contact with nature and lets himself be charmed by
its intimate chromatic melodies. What a simplicity is in his means of
expression and what a luminous Latin smile is in everything he paints!"
George Opresco (Bucharest, 1935) wrote:
a great number of his paintings one feels the voluptuousness of the
art, a direct manner, particularly sincere in attacking the subject, a
will and a force in front of it."
Michele Biancale (Rome, 1942) said of his paintings:
color decorates voluptuously with chromatic rhapsodies of a great
audacity, especially in portraits and in still life, opulent, pompous
and extremely rich in pigment."
Maximilien Gauthier (Paris art critic, 1947) said:
meeting this young man one has the feeling that he is a bohemian
incapable of work and ready to play pranks upon one. Bohemian he is
not. He eyes with particular distrust the theories expounded on
pictorial art; ...he has gone beyond ephemeral theories of uncertain
future. He has a healthy artistic mind; he does not imitate the snobs
of our world who are always in search of the new. Berea is always one
with nature and lets himself be charmed by the music of color. His work
is lit with a Latin delight; he is a son of the Mediterranean. [He
sings with a poetic beauty that could be likened to Claude Monet.] The
liveliness born in his palette owes something to Renoir and Manet; but
he is not an impressionist. His arabesques have style. The
material/motifs he paints are full of strength and feeling and as
smooth as silk. At first Berea's paintings are not unfamiliar to us,
but his most binding virtues arise from a more secret source - a
conception of life lived with great warmth, whose essential sensuality
impregnates all thought behind it."
Andre Warnod (Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, Paris, 1949) said:
Denis [a Fauve - Symbolist painter] considered that an autodidactic
experience should be followed by a great spiritual and technical
molding, inspired by the feeling that the works of the Ancients were
once new. To pass through Italy establishes oneself on the firm ground
of yesterday's culture. Surely an Italian schooling is indispensable
for discipline in construction, orderliness of conception, balance,
clarity and firmness of technique. A classical training is the only
basis for a sound development. During the tragic war years, Berea had
time to think and to try to solve the problems which confront the young
painter in quest of an ideal. He well knows that aesthetic speculations
are only valid in the measure in which they are defended, brush in
hand. The only thing that counts is the temperament of the artist, the
wealth of his soul. A mason's worth is to be seen in his work."
Maximilien Gauthier (Paris, 1951) said:
colors have both excitement and clarity; his palette is full of
personality; and his blues, in particular, are his alone. Berea's
paintings have a charming and lively sensitivity that combine both
strength and beauty. [They are revelations of sincere passion.] Fernand
Leger, latter day Cubist, does not inspire in me unreserved enthusiasm.
I do not believe, as Leger believes, in the complete change of our
visual climate, under the influence of machines and other diverse
characteristics of modern life. I admit for instance that the metal
trellis of high tension pylons has changed some landscapes. Nature
itself has not changed and certain melodious values, as for instance
the splendors of Venice, will never cease to touch us. It seems to me a
dangerous error to attach more importance in art to the realities of
the outer rather than the inner world. Berea planted his easel bravely
before the great churches and secular structures of Venice never
fearing comparison with certain memories. He would concede nothing to
the absurd superstition of the new."
Terrence Mullally (London, 1953) said:
has the ability to capture the essential feeling of different cities;
anyone who has loved and entered Rome, Paris, Florence, London or
Venice will derive deep pleasure from his paintings."
In Berea's own Venice Manifesto 1951, he wrote:
alone knows categorical imperatives. The artist creates whilst in
communion with Man. His work is a way of expression, by means of which
humanity can attain the high reaches of the spirit. Thus the value of a
work of art is related to the sincerity of the artist, and to the
quality of his own spirit. It is in this communion that he fulfils
himself. The eternal quest for oneself in art is ultimately simply an
attempt to let one's own spirit reveal and express itself.
is a divine function and the artist is a missionary. He should
therefore speak a language which will make him understood. I believe
that a work of art in order to be complete must possess a function. So
true is this, that throughout history artists have sacrificed their
lives so that the masses might come in contact with the Divinity. That
is why one can deny all merit to a form of art which remains outside
the human sphere. I speak not only of abstract art but also of
Surrealism which uses a current tongue in order to mislead.
revolution which does not, unlike Impressionism, Symbolism and
Expressionism, become a tradition after one or two generations, is no
revolution. But here we have one which has lasted fifty years and does
not appear to want to stop.
I believe in healthy art, of high
spiritual content, which finds an echo neither in the spinal column nor
in the solar plexus, an art clear and legible to all, and one that does
not depart from its ethical function, which is its only 'raison
d'être'. Let us then re-establish free contact between the public and
the work of art, by courageously delivering it from formulae in an
Pierre Cabanne (Paris, 1963) wrote: "[In
Berea's paintings] lie the conquest of space, where people and objects
have autonomy bestowed upon them for the sheer delight of composing a
kind of transfigured reality - the picture. Art is memory beautified by
retrospect. Berea calls the inanimate to life and makes all things
deliver their poetic essence. His paintings are filled with pervading
human harmony and subtle relationships between the landscape and the
enigmatic grace of his figures.
To paint, for Berea, was to
reach the marvelous inherent in a certain mode of being, loved and
apprehended as discovered and loved with undiminished wonderment in
lifelong faithfulness. One of the powers of art, that
other-sightedness, is to show us how greatly we are prisoners of the
chosen, privileged few, appointed to carry our view of things into the
heart of their mystery.
His paintings are as devoid of
arrière-pensée as of any partisan intention. It is to be understood
exactly as what it is. An inward elegance, a natural verve and grace
are there conferred upon the faces of men and women and upon life's
innumerable scenes. Indeed, color, with Berea sings, vibrates, resounds
and shimmers in light. In Mediterranean landscapes, flower-decked
balconies at Cannes, brilliant and opulent still-lives, fruits in ripe
bloom that calls for that velvet blue which is all his own, Berea's
melodic quality appears in its exquisite refinement. His pictures of
the South of France betray his debt to the Impressionists - to Renoir,
to Bonnard, to Matisse. He is a revealer and purveyor of happiness."
In Connoisseur, December 1963, M.-L. D'Otrange Mastai wrote:
art of Berea had been justly and happily characterized as a 'synthesis
of Impressionism and Fauvism', combining as it does the warm luminosity
of the first with the untamed power of the second. Berea is indeed the
artistic heir of Impressionism through Bonnard and of Fauvism through
Matisse. The magic of color is Berea's chief gift - many see in it
Slavic temperament and Latin blood. He has long been heralded as the
foremost interpreter of the Midi, which he renders with a chromatic
generosity that is appropriate to the lush beauty of the region. …He
has added the fervor of the sun [and] the vibrancy of Meridional light
to the accustomed pigments on his palette. In his color vocabulary,
green, rose and blue are not merely that, but green-drenched with
light, rose permeated with sunglow, and blue seen through fathoms of
pure Mediterranean water. His skies are crystalline and illimitable,
his fruits are heavy and fragrant and his flowers fill the room with an
almost too heady perfume. Berea's paintings lead us to reflect that the
priceless gift Impressionism made to the world was not the development
of a new technique. Impressionism remains beloved because it served to
perpetuate with rare perfection a vision of la douceur de vivre, of a
rational and harmonious Eden that seemed all too certainly and
tantalizingly out of our own reach."
John Devoluy, in the New York Herald Tribune (Paris, ND) said: "his work is personal, sprightly, deft and charming…"
The paintings in the Berea College, KY, Collection indicate with great
vitality Dimitrie Berea's excitement with brushwork and intensity of
color. The viewer can examine the paintings for the process and
marks made by Berea's hand, but one can also feel the emotion of the
moment and the "flavorings" of the site or sitter. As critics and
journalist have enumerated, it is his color that catches the eye. As a
member of the "Paris School" he truly does marry the color of
Impressionism with that of the wild seemingly uncontrolled energy of
the Fauves. From interviews you would learn that he tended to be timid,
shy and almost child-like but came fully alive with a sitter and brush
and palette in hand. He was charming and vivacious; he was in his
element. He was also single minded in his choice of the beautiful and
spoke out against and would not paint the abstract or ugly. Landscapes
dominate his early work, but his productive years in America are in
large part portraits. He had an entrée and market in Hollywood, Palm
Beach, Miami and New York. From a scan of a list of owners and
collections it becomes quickly evident he is represented in virtually
every major European museum, state collection and private royal
Berea College is fortunate in the great quantities
of drawings and watercolors in its collection. It is through these
images that some sense of his artistic development can be traced as
well as his globetrotting. Berea used virtually any marking instrument
or ground on which to mark. His drawings and even watercolors can be
found on café menus, newsprint, cardboard, artist board or high quality
rag papers. He was obsessed with mark making. Often, as with Edgar
Degas, he chose a tool that not only made a mark but also left a line
of color. Drawings exist that also have watercolor washes over them
that allowed the mark to bleed. Berea sought all manner of tool by
which to express himself.
Berea College's large collection of
Dimitrie Berea is illustrative of passionate energy, rich saturated
color and quantity of images. We possess the largest number of images
by him in the world and are the repository of his papers and records,
all a generous gift of Princess Alice Gureilli Berea Terres.
1908 Dimitrie Berea was born in Bacau, Romania on November 2. His mother a painter, his father, a lawyer.
1927-1932 Student at the Acedemy of Architecture, Bucharest.
In Bucharest, together with Theodorescu-Sion, his then master, founded
on the earliest academies of nonconformist painting, "Ileana."
1932 Show at the Academy of Architecture's annual art exhibition, Bucharest.
The Prize of Bucharest's official Salon, where his works have hung
regularly since 1928, is awarded to his portrait of Mlle. L.S. First
one-man show at Bucharest's Dalles Gallery.
1936 One-man show at
Lapusneanu Galleries in Jassy, the Moldave Country's chief town, and at
Casino Galleries in the great Romanian harbor Constantza, inaugurated
by Queen Mary of Romania.
1937 Leaves on invitation for Rome,
with a special bursary from the Italian government. Studies at the
Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
1938 Prix de Rome. Exhibition at the Romanian Academy of Prix de Rome.
Decisive meeting with Marie Fontaine-Desjardins, chief muse of the
Impressionists. In dedicating to her his first postwar exhibition at
the Galerie Allard in Paris, Berea pays grateful homage to the Egeria
with whom and through whom he has known Matisse, Van Dongen, Andre'
Lhote and above all Bonnard, who he considers his real master.
1940 Exhibition in Rome at the Galeria delle Belle Arte inaugurated by King Vittorio Emmanuelle III.
1941 Exhibition at Milan, Galeria del Duomo, opened by the Minister of Fine Arts.
Receives diploma from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Important
one-man exhibition in Rome at the Palazzo Lancellotto opened by the
minister of National Education.
1943 Returns to Bucharest as successful candidate for appointments as director and curator of the Aman Museum.
1944 Exhibition at the Kretzulescu Gallery's Caminul Artei.
1946 Returns to Paris for the exhibition dedicated to Marie Fontaine-Desjardins at the Galerie Allard.
Exhibitions at the Athenee, Geneva and at Chichio Haller's, Zurich.
Meeting with Leon-Paul Fargues, Lucien Fabre, Alain Bedel and Gerard
Bauer of whom the artist paints well-known portraits, as one of the
literary Tout --- Paris.
1948 Exhibitions held at Galerie
Bernheim-Jeune, round the portrait of Leon-Paul Fargues: "Visages de
Paris"; Galerie Lanmark, "Montmartre Landscapes"; and Fine Arts Gallery
1949 At another exhibition at Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, Andre Warnod presents his book Berea.
Shows portraits at Herve's, Butte de Monmarte. Roland Dorgeles speaks
of Berea as one of the first portraitists of our time, beside Kisling
and Dongen. Exhibition at the Andre Weil Gallery, Paris.
Exhibitions-M.M.J.H. Bernheim-Jeune, Paris and Galeria Cavalino, Venice
by Cardazzo- later called "Venice Manifesto," which will be a book
under the same title, prefaced y Maximilien Gauthier. At the exhibition
"Landscapes of Venice," Galerie d'Arte Hispanique, Paris, the artist
presents and signs the first edition of the "Venice Manifesto."
Exhibition at the Circolo de las Bellas Artes, Madrid. Also an
exhibition at the Galerias Layetanas, Barcelona, where the "Venice
Manifesto," translated into Catalan, is discussed with ardor and
violence at the celebrated cenacle Los Trascaccios. At the Galerie
Bernheim-Jeune, an exhibition "Bonnard, Vuillard, Berea," allows Berea
to view his works side by side with those of his masters.
Invited by the British Government, Berea shows canvasses inspired by
London decorated for the Coronation at Tooth & Son, London.
At the O'Hana Gallery, London, an exhibition, "Visions de France et
d'Angleterre," is opened by the Duchess of Kent. Berea meets Winston
Churchill at 10 Downing Street, a political group having given the
Premier one of his major works for an 80th birthday present.
Exhibitions at Casino Gallery, Vichy and at the Edinburgh Festival,
Whystock & Reid's.
1955 Exhibitions at Moulins Museum and at Cannes, with Matisse and Picasso, Gallery 65.
Exhibitions at M.M.J.H. Bernheim-Jeune as part of "Hommage a Bonnard"
and Rohr Volmar's Galerie des Remparts, Venice and Paris.
"Vernissage Author d'un portrait," at Hannah Becker von Rath's
Kunstkabinet, Frankfurt/Main preceded by a lecture by the artist: "Art
confronted by the abstract and the creative phenomenon."
Meets Picasso at Cannes. Show at the Galerie du Belier --"Berea in the
land of Picasso" with a lecture by the artist on the faux-pas in art.
The Grand Prix Salondu Portrait is awarded by a jury of notables and
art critics to Berea.
1959 The decorator, Chaurand, at Cannes,
presents Berea canvasses on the theme "The work of art in its proper
setting, creates atmosphere and climate."
1960 Recent works show
at Domenico's, Cannes. "A Hundred Pictures by Berea," at M.M.J.H.
Bernheim-Jeune, marked by a commemorative booklet with a reproduction
in facsimile of a handwritten "profession of faith" by the artist.
Official meeting with the Prince and Princess of Monaco in Berne. The
occasion is the ceremony at which Prince Rainer presents the President
acquired by the Principality.
1961 Invited to exhibit at
Monte-Carlo, Galerie Rauch. Berea receives the Grand-Prix, hors
concours, of the International Salon of Modern Art, Paris. Exhibition
at Acquavella Gallery, New York.
1963 Double exhibition ---
Paris and London. Recent works. Seven pictures of London during the
Coronation, a gift from Berea to the nation, are placed on exhibition
1964 Inauguration of his great mural: "Hommage a
Paris" triptych which represents the monumental symbols of the "Paris
Universal Exhibitions": Eiffel Tower, Alexander IIIrd Bridge and the
Grand Palais at the Club of The Top of the Fair, New York.
1965 Exhibition at the DeYoung Museum, San Francisco.
1966 Exhibition Gilbert Gallery, San Francisco.
1967 Exhibition Palm Beach Gallery, Palm Beach.
Exhibition Poinciana Gallery, Palm Beach and Service Culturel --
Ambassade de France, New York. Major exhibition at The Eric Galleries,
1975 Dimitrie Berea dies in Paris of Cancer.
1990 Retrospective Exhibition of the Berea collection at Phillips Fine Art Auctioneers, New York.
Major Museum Retrospective at the Musee de Villefranche, France.
Exhibition of selected works from 1941 to 1970, Ergane Gallery, New
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