Petrescu's Magicians



Petrescu's Magicians


Tyler, Geoffrey




Throughout his career Petrescu has painted groups of people on a stage, principally in the context of a performance by a magician with helpers and props, but sometimes of groups of actors or acrobats.

The magician series, which is similar to Picasso's series of acrobat and circus works, typically consists of the magician himself, some helpers, mostly women, and the usual props of a table with its cloth, some mirrors, draperies, boxes, etc. The series by its nature tends to be somewhat more realistic and less abstract than some of his other works, but for all that the stylization of the artist's works is carried through into the "magicians". Figures are not delineated in fine detail very often. Faces, for example, are rarely more than oval shapes, without features. Other parts of the designs are equally generalized.

The "magicians" cover the whole range of Petrescu's styles and techniques. There are some that are particularly byzantine in character and that could almost be taken for a religious theme with the magician, helpers and table very similar to priests at an altar. Others are exercises in collage and there are a few where gold leaf is heavily used. However, no matter what the technique, the series has a beguiling mixture of seriousness (the persons on stage are clearly serious in their performance) and the joy that belongs with magicians, acrobats and other stage performers.

Petrescu has at times, although not frequently, painted interiors that bear some resemblance to the magician series. For example, there are some interiors of artists’ studios, or of medieval castles with nobles and courtiers. Rather more realistic than most of the "magicians", the atmosphere of these paintings is very similar to the main series.

Also partly related to the magicians, are a number of paintings of birds in cages, or rather a bird in a cage. The bird, almost always red, is in a gilded cage sitting on a perch. Sometimes in the magician series one of the props is a bird in a cage that the magician makes disappear. Taking the bird in its cage as the main subject has resulted in a number of particularly happy works, simple in style, but none the less attractive for that.



Tyler, Geoffrey, “Petrescu's Magicians,” Tyler Collection of Romanian and Modern Art: University of Tasmania, accessed June 12, 2021,