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Marcel Janco

Marcel Hermann Iancu

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Marcel Janco was a Romanian and Israeli visual artist, architect and art theorist. He was the co-inventor of Dadaism and a leading exponent of Constructivism in Eastern Europe. In the 1910s, he co-edited, with Ion Vinea and Tristan Tzara, the Romanian art magazine Simbolul. Janco was a practitioner of Art Nouveau, Futurism and Expressionism before contributing his painting and stage design to Tzara's literary Dadaism. He parted with Dada in 1919, when he and painter Hans Arp founded a Constructivist circle, Das Neue Leben.

Reunited with Vinea, he founded Contimporanul, the influential tribune of the Romanian avant-garde, advocating a mix of Constructivism, Futurism and Cubism. At Contimporanul, Janco expounded a "revolutionary" vision of urban planning. He designed some of the most innovative landmarks of downtown Bucharest. He worked in many art forms, including illustration, sculpture and oil painting.

Janco was one of the leading Romanian Jewish intellectuals of his generation. Targeted by antisemitic persecution before and during World War II, he emigrated to British Palestine in 1941. He won the Dizengoff Prize and Israel Prize, and was a founder of Ein Hod, a utopian art colony, controversially built over a deserted Palestinian Arab settlement.

Marcel Janco was the brother Georges and Jules Janco, who were his artistic partners during and after the Dada episode. His brother-in-law and fellow Constructivist promoter was the writer Jacques G. Costin, known as a survivor of 1940s antisemitism.

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Marcel Janco (German: [maɐ̯ˈsɛl ˈjaŋko], French: [maʁsɛl ʒɑ̃ko], common rendition of the Romanian name Marcel Hermann Iancu pronounced [marˈt͡ʃel ˈherman ˈjaŋku], last name also Ianco, Janko or Jancu; May 24, 1895 – April 21, 1984) was a Romanian and Israeli visual artist, architect and art theorist. He was the co-inventor of Dadaism and a leading exponent of Constructivism in Eastern Europe. In the 1910s, he co-edited, with Ion Vinea and Tristan Tzara, the Romanian art magazine Simbolul. Janco was a practitioner of Art Nouveau, Futurism and Expressionism before contributing his painting and stage design to Tzara's literary Dadaism. He parted with Dada in 1919, when he and painter Hans Arp founded a Constructivist circle, Das Neue Leben.

Reunited with Vinea, he founded Contimporanul, the influential tribune of the Romanian avant-garde, advocating a mix of Constructivism, Futurism and Cubism. At Contimporanul, Janco expounded a "revolutionary" vision of urban planning. He designed some of the most innovative landmarks of downtown Bucharest. He worked in many art forms, including illustration, sculpture and oil painting.

Janco was one of the leading Romanian Jewish intellectuals of his generation. Targeted by antisemitic persecution before and during World War II, he emigrated to British Palestine in 1941. He won the Dizengoff Prize and Israel Prize, and was a founder of Ein Hod, a utopian art colony, controversially built over a depopulated Palestinian Arab village (itself relocated to Ein Hawd).

Marcel Janco was the brother of Georges and Jules Janco, who were his artistic partners during and after the Dada episode. His brother-in-law and fellow Constructivist promoter was the writer Jacques G. Costin, known as a survivor of 1940s antisemitism.

Marcel Janco was born on May 24, 1895 in Bucharest to an upper middle class Jewish family. His father, Hermann Zui Iancu, was a textile merchant. His mother, Rachel née Iuster, was from Moldavia. The couple lived outside Bucharest's Jewish quarter, on Decebal Street. He was the oldest of four children. His brothers were Iuliu (Jules) and George. His sister, Lucia, was born in 1900. The Iancus moved from Decebal to Gândului Street, and then to Trinității, where they built one of the largest home-and-garden complexes in early 20th century Bucharest. In 1980, Janco revisited his childhood years, writing: "Born as I was in beautiful Romania, into a family of well-to-do people, I had the fortune of being educated in a climate of freedom and spiritual enlightenment. My mother, [...] possessing a genuine musical talent, and my father, a stern man and industrious merchant, had created the conditions favorable for developing all of my aptitudes. [...] I was of a sensitive and emotional nature, a withdrawn child who was predisposed to dreaming and meditating. [...] I grew up [...] dominated by a strong sense of humanity and social justice. The existence of disadvantaged, weak, people, of impoverished workers, of beggars, hurt me and, when compared to our family's decent condition, awoke in me a feeling of guilt."

Janco attended Gheorghe Șincai School and studied drawing art with the Romanian Jewish painter and cartoonist Iosif Iser. In his teenage years, the family traveled widely, from Austria-Hungary to Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands. At Gheorghe Lazăr High School, he met several students who would become his artistic companions: Tzara (known then as S. Samyro), Vinea (Iovanaki), writers Jacques G. Costin and Poldi Chapier. Janco also became friends with pianist Clara Haskil, the subject of his first published drawing, which appeared in Flacăra magazine in March 1912.

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Marcel Janco Artworks
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