Belle Baranceanu

Theme/Style – Modernism, figurative art, still lifes, landscapes

Media – Oils, murals, printmaking

Artistic Focus – Belle Baranceanu was one of the most respected early California women Modernists. Equally adept at landscape, figure painting and still lifes, Baranceanu painted works reflecting the heritage of the early Modernists who preceded her, rather than the more intellectual, mechanistic approach of some later adherents to the style. Whatever the subject matter or medium, Baranceanu’s work – characterized by the use of deep greens, blues, pinks and gray – reflected her ability to reduce forms and structures of the material world to their sensory essence, and almost always demonstrated the artist’s interest in strongly expressed humanist content.

Career Highlights –

• Born in Chicago in 1902, Baranceanu studied at the Minneapolis School of Art, and under Anthony Angarola at the Art Institute of Chicago.
• Although Baranceanu never gained the fame of fellow artist Georgia O’Keeffe, much of her work of the 1920s applies the same close-up sensibility as O’Keeffe’s flower studies, while adding Baranceanu’s own interest in the abstract compositional properties of flat fields of color, plane and strongly accentuated line.
• Active in Chicago during the 1920s as a teacher and exhibitor, Baranceanu moved to southern California in 1933.
• After settling in San Diego, Baranceanu did murals for the Public Works of Art Project in the La Jolla Post Office and Roosevelt Junior High School.
• Both as an artist and instructor, Baranceanu was a vital force in the San Diego art scene until her demise in La Jolla in 1988.