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Nicolae Ionescu

Bucuretiul de altdat Bucharest of yore Bucares dantan

Prefa/Preface : Emanuel Bdescu i Iulian Voicu

ALCOR
EDIMPEX
SRL

Bucureti, 2002

Coperta I: Ateneul Romn,1928 Cover 1: The Romanian Athenaeum, 1928

Cover 4: The Old Royal Palace, 1928

Coordonare: Corina Firu i Cori Simona Ion English version: Agusta Caterina Grundbock La version franaise: Micheline Trancu Lucrarea s-a realizat n coeditare cu: Tehnoexpert SRL ISBN 973-8160-06-5 Toate drepturile rezervate:ALCOR EDIMPEX SRL, bd. Ion Mihalache nr.45, sc.D, ap. 116, sector 1, cod 782091 Bucureti, Romania fax 6653440, email: ed_alcor@yahoo.com, www.rotravel.com/alcor

Nicolae Ionescu

Bucuretiul de altdat Bucharest of yore Bucarest dantan


Prefa/Preface: i

Nicolae Ionescu fotograful Bucuretilor


n viziunea lui Nicolae Ionescu, Bucuretii, cu att de diferitele sale cartiere, se prezint ca un conglomerat de orae. Deosebirile ntre acestea sunt att de mari, de radicale, nct pe bun dreptate te ntrebi: care dintre ele este Capitala? Orgoliul te ndeamn s le indici pe cele dominate de blocurile moderne nlate pe vremea regelui Carol al II-lea1 cci sentimentul reconfortant c aparii prin snge marilor naiuni occidentale este persistent i puternic. Pe lng blocuri, mai vedem cinematografe nirate conform modei apusene, reclame luminoase, limuzine elegante, curse de cai, n fine, cam tot ce ar putea bucura sufletul monden lipsit de grija zilei de mine. La drept vorbind nu era vorba de o nrudire cu Europa, ci de un salt n timp, din punct de vedere stilistic, un salt peste Atlantic, unde atepta pe cheiuri, americanizarea. Neputnd opune arhitectural btrnul Bucureti Parisului, Londrei, Berlinului sau Romei, regele i ndemnase arhitecii i inginerii s importe stilul universal din Rio de Janeiro sau din Buenos Aires, dac se poate i cte un zgrie-nori newyorkez, mcar o imitaie dac solul i pericolul seismic nu-l permiteau. Astfel, modernismul a fost pentru acest suveran o evadare din Bizanul su interior. Dar i ambiia ca n viitor, oraul su de scaun s se asemene cu trufaele capitale europene. Totui, liniaritatea excesiv i absena absolut a elementelor decorative confer acestor blocuri ceva strin ereditii europene, greu explicabil n cuvinte. Mult mai aproape de suflet, pare oraul nceput odat cu nlarea pavilioanelor Expoziiei Jubiliare din 1906 i ncheiat cu dispariia regelui Ferdinand2. Stilul dominant - neoromnesc - ntoarce gndul ctre epoca brncoveneasc3. Construciile nu au ns graie, sunt masive, greoaie. n plus, prea seamn ntre ele, fapt ce afecteaz dinamismul i obosete privirea. Acesta trebuia s fie amprenta capitalei Romniei Mari pe retina viitorimii? Mergnd napoi pe firul cronologic, nimereti peste rudimentele capitalei lui Cuza Vod 4 ghemuite la umbra construciilor monumentale ridicate dup proclamarea Regatului5, n anii domniei lui Carol I, ani de occidentalizare intensiv, cnd puin a lipsit ca ntreg Parisul s fie recldit pe malurile Dmboviei. Bucureti capital european sau Micul Paris sunt asocieri de cuvinte care vor strni ntotdeauna agitaie ntr-o lume la Porile Orientului.
_______ ___________________________________________ 1. Regele Carol al II-lea a fost regele Romniei ntre anii 1930-1940. 2. Regele Ferdinand a trit ntre anii 1865-1927. Marea Unire a provinciilor romneti a avut loc la 1 decembrie 1918, n timpul domniei sale, care a durat 13 ani. 3. Constantin Brncoveanu a domnit ntre anii 1688-1714. 4. Alexandru Ioan Cuza a fost domn ntre anii 1859-1866. 5. Romnia a devenit regat n anul 1881. Carol I a avut cea mai lung domnie dintre conductorii Romniei, 48 de ani, ntre 1866-1914.

Contrastele violente dintre grandios i modest, caracteristice implementrii specificului vest-european n aezarea pitoreasc, vduvit din varii motive de martorii unei istorii de peste jumtate de mileniu, l-au impresionat i pe Nicolae Ionescu. Imaginile din aceast perioad sunt cele mai numeroase, fiind limpede c autorul le-a imortalizat pentru propria-i satisfacie i pentru desftarea privitorului ocazional de mine. Antiteza, uneori fin, alteori brutal, subliniaz c aceste fotografii - excelente de altfel - sunt tematice, documentare i, frexagerare, istorice. Linia conductoare spre oraul din secolul XVIII i chiar de dinainte, trece prin piee, prin Trgul Moilor, prin mahalale. Bucuretenii care le populeaz sunt trgovei din cap pn-n picioare, nrvii la comerul stradal de factur balcanic-oriental, contemplativi, desculi, analfabei, tocmindu-se din principiu, dar mulumindu-se cu o para chioar. Oameni srmani - romni, evrei, muscali, igani - care au motenit srcia din tat-n fiu i nici nu cutezau s-o prseasc. Nicolae Ionescu nu a descifrat numai straturile edilitare i sociale ale Bucuretilor de pn n 1940. A cutat cu ochi de pictor efecte de clarobscur, peisaje urbane, a scrutat aleile parcurilor n aria verii ori n singurtatea zpezii, s-a lsat condus de misterul nopii. Lucru extraordinar, imaginile transmit privitorului vibraii, stri de spirit, dialogheaz cu el, triesc, i nc frenetic. Au dreptul la via! Cunoaterea Bucuretiului interbelic ar fi imposibil fr mrturiile fotografice lsate de Nicolae Ionescu. O motenire la prima vedere tributar unei selecii subiective, fiindc ne lipsete de imaginile unor strzi, bulevarde i ci cu pondere istoric, economic ori sentimental n viaa oraului. Totui impresia creat de parcurgerea fotografiilor sale pare s ignore absenele semnalate, privitorul suferind la nivel spiritual o transmutaie temporal care-l face, spre marele su deliciu, contemporan cu secvena imortalizat. Se poate spune c acest efect este produs de revelaia esenialului. Aa este, dar nu numai att. Exist acolo un mister din care izvorte fr contenire fiorul artistic. De fiecare dat cnd revenim asupra acestor imagini, descoperim detalii care nesc spre lumina perceperii cu vigoarea unor delfini i ne ntrebm cum de ne-au scpat privirii, ele trebuind s fi fost acolo. Zadarnic. Nu vom afla niciodat, cci acesta este secretul artei. Exhaustivitatea deplns mai sus a fost nlocuit cu un singur crmpei, dar ct de guraliv este el, ct de sugestiv, ct de minunat reuete autorul s concentreze o categorie analitic. Majoritatea acestor fotografii sunt, fiecare n parte, simboluri ale unui aspect urban, comercial, uman, calitate rar la artitii fotografi de pretutindeni. Este suficient, de exemplu, s privim cte o fotografie

luat de Nicolae Ionescu din Piaa Unirii, de pe Calea Victoriei, de pe Cheiul Dmboviei sau din Trgul Moilor, pentru a constata c zece ori o sut de alte fotografii, ale acelorai locuri nu, vin cu nimic nou - seamn ntre ele - spre deosebire de cele ale marelui fotograf. Ne este limpede rostul seleciei operate de Nicolae Ionescu: numai valoarea supravieuiete. Pornind de la acest criteriu, apare mai mult dect necesar incursiunea biografic pentru a cerceta drumul att de ntortocheat al formrii sale artistice. Nicolae Ionescu s-a nscut n prima zi de noiembrie a anului 1903 la maternitatea Filantropia. Mama sa, Rozalia Ionescu, venise din Bucovina i se cstorise n 1893 cu Nicolae Ionescu, tehnician la Uzina de Gaz de pe bulevardul Neatrnrii. n 1900 decesul soului a pus-o ntr-o situaie deosebit de delicat: singur i fr nici un venit, trebuind s achite terenul cumprat pe Dealul Filaret. Norocul i-a surs pe jumtate: a gsit un loc de munc la Gara Filaret, dar prost pltit. Cunotina cu administratorul grii, promitoare la nceput, a durat doar trei ani i a avut drept consecine naterea unui copil i resemnarea fa de cstorie. Acestea au fost pe scurt circumstanele venirii pe lume a lui Nicolae Ionescu. n acest context nu se poate vorbi de copilrie fericit, de lipsa grijilor. Chiar i drumul pn la coal era o corvoad. A nvat la coala EnchiVcrescu, ctitorit de Vod Cuza n 1864 i cunoscut sub numele de Maidanul Dulapului, drumul din strada nclinat i pn la aceast instituie situat pe Calea erban Vod fiind de peste doi kilometri. Pe ploaie, pe ninsoare, parcurgea aceast distan strbtnd bulevardul Neatrnrii i lunga strad Cuitul de Argint pn n dreptul Arenelor Romane, de unde se ndrepta spre oseaua Viilor, iar de acolo paii lui mruni de copil parcurgeau strada nclinat mai mult de jumtate din lungimea ei, pn aproape de Pieptnari. Dup propria sa mrturisire, acest itinerar parcurs zilnic n ambele sensuri l-a nvat s priveasc oraul i viaa lui cotidian. Mai trziu, trcnd prin dreptul cinematografului Odeon - amenajat n 1913 ntr-o barac - a vzut reclamele filmelor i nu o dat s-a strecurat n sal cu trengarii care miunau pe-acolo, clcnd interdicia de a viziona filme pentru aduli. Att de adnc l-a impresionat miracolul micrii proiectate pe pnza alb nct, cu nvoirea domnului pedagog, a improvizat un cinematograf rudimentar n opronul colii. Tot n acest context al educaiei privirii nu putem trece peste cteva anse de ordin geografic: coala EnchiVcrescu se nvecina cu Dealul Mitropoliei, care-i putea oferi panorame, cu Piaa Bibescu i Halele Centrale, debordnd de exotism i care formau un ora n inima Capitalei, cu straniile cartiere ru famate Crucea de Piatr i Flmnzi; drumul trecea prin dreptul Uzinei de Gaz, ocolea parcul Expoziiei jubiliare prin dreptul Grii Filaret i al uzinelor Wolff; strbtea mizerul cartier al ceferitilor dintre oseaua Viilor

i Pieptnari, oferindu-i la rndul su o gam tipologic extrem de variat. Am insistat asupra acestei perioade ntruct formarea estetic, fie i sub forma necontrolat proprie copilriei, are un rol esenial, de temelie i raportare incontient, n anii de exprimare a talentului. Mai ales n situaia unei pregtiri autodidacte, cazul fotografului nostru. Izbucnirea primului rzboi mondial l-a mpiedicat pe elevul Nicolae Ionescu s fac pasul care urma n ordinea fireasc, nscrierea la liceu. Mizeriile ocupaiei germano-bulgare sugrumaser orice surs de prosperitate. A fost obligat s se ntrein singur, angajndu-se ucenic la tipografia Fortuna. Singura bucurie a constituit-o cumprarea unui aparat fotografic, n rest dezastru pe toat linia. Iarna celui de al doilea an de rzboi, cu geruri i zpezi mari, a fost un adevrat comar. Nici acas nu aveam lemne i nici la atelier. La atelier ne ngheau minile pe vingalac, iar litera se lipea de piele cnd o culegeam. Acas, biata mama mergea la lucru cu ziua i numai cnd gsea un om milostiv, venea cu cte doutrei buci de lemne; i acelea constituiau cldura noastr... n tot timpul citeam foarte mult. Din cei 30 de bani pe care mi-i ddea mama, nvasem s mnnc numai cu 15 (5 bani resturi de mezeluri i 10 bani pine), iar cu restul de 15 bani cumpram numere vechi din Biblioteca pentru toi. Precum se vede banii ctigai i ddea n cas, contabilitatea lor revenindu-i mamei. Fr ndoial i aceste timpuri grele au contribuit la reliefarea omului de mai trziu: abnegaia, voluntarismul, altruismul au fost coordonatele caracterului su i expresiei acestuia, conduita n societate. n 1918 a ajuns zear. ndrumtor i-a fost Dimitrie Demetrian, unul dintre specialitii emineni care se perfecionase n Germania, la Frankfurt, Dresda i Leipzig. M lua la el acas duminicele i, cu o bunvoin de printe, mi punea la dispoziie colecii de ani ntregi ale revistelor de specialitate germane, franceze i mai ales elveiene. Aceasta a constituit baza pe care am adunat apoi toate celelalte cunotine tehnice ale mele. La sugestia maestrului, va tatona noi locuri de munc mai bine dotate tehnic i mai bine pltite. Gsete n 1921 un post la Minerva, tipografia Ordinului Masonic Romn, implicat profund, prin muncitorii si, n evenimentele de sorginte bolevic din 13 decembrie 1918. Fiind singurul romn din atelier i nenelegnd idi, o prsete n primvara anului 1922. Obine pe baza recomandrii lui Demetrian, un post la Cultura Naional, cea mai modern tipografie din sud-estul Europei, construit de Aristide Blank pe Calea erban Vod. n acest fief liberal va cunoate, printre alii, pe Vasile Prvan, I. G. Duca, Eugen Lovinescu, dr. C. Angelescu, corifei ai vieii politice i culturale romneti, care supravegheau personal tiprirea crilor. Discuiile avute cu ei l-au determinat s se nscrie n toamna anului 1922 la liceul Sf.Sava, la cursurile serale, pe care le va absolvi dup doi ani. Se simte tot mai atras de fotografie: aveam un

manual german de fotografie i fotografia era acum marea mea pasiune. Din motive uor de neles, nva limbile francez i german, pe care le va stpni foarte bine. Numit ef de echip, l-a cunoscut pe Simion Mehedini, care l-a angajat n iarna lui 1922-1923 la Convorbiri Literare, pentru a da o nou nfiare revistei. Se pare c ideile nu i-au fost acceptate, fiindc s-a rentors la Cultura Naional dup mai puin de trei luni. n primvara lui 1925 a plecat n armat. Aici va avea ocazia de a profesa n domeniul fotografiei. Din mai 1925 i pn n toamn, am lucrat numai fotografii militare cu un aparat personal, primul aparat de mare clas pe care izbutisem s mi-l cumpr. La napoiere n Bucureti, am nceput s fac acas ncercri pentru a obine fotografii n culori pe cale mecanic. ncercrile mele au dat oarecari rezultate, dar reveneau prea scump. Pe de altparte, i ncolise o idee: ncepnd cu anul 1927, n fiecare var am colindat ara pentru a-i fotografia metodic cele mai reprezentative coluri, adunnd cliee pentru organizarea unui muzeu de fotografii. Muzeul de fotografii: o idee pe ct de original pe att de lipsit de ans. Ca ntotdeauna i pretutindeni pentru a realiza ceva, mai ales ceva generos, este nevoie de bani. Ori, tocmai banii i lipseau lui Nicolae Ionescu. Proiectul nu putea fi realizat peste noapte, cum i-ar fi dorit. Nu ar fi respectat nici prima condiie care se pretinde unui muzeu: calitatea. Precum se vede, era un proiect izvort din entuziasmul tinereii. ns artistul nu a renunat la el; cu timpul a neles ce era utopic dar i ce era realizabil la proiectul su - adic rbdare, perfecionare, educaie estetic, selecie. Odat cu perfecionarea n tehnica fotografiei, simte c pentru a accede la arta fotografic, ar fi bine s reia n modul cel mai serios studierea celei de a aptea arte: progresele mari realizate n fotografie m-au determinat s m ocup i de cinematograf. Bnuim c a realizat cteva filme, existente probabil i astzi, cu meniunea autor necunoscut, n Arhiva Naionalde Filme. Cel puin un documentar despre Bucureti, vizionat pe micul ecran, poart - dupopinia noastr - amprenta inconfundabil a lui Nicolae Ionescu. n acest an, 1928, dedicat marilor pasiuni, face marele pas: se cstorete. Drumul i s-a ncruciat de cteva ori cu o vecin, Constana, fiica unui pensionar ceferist. Ea i va fi soie i firea ei vesel i va nsori numeroasele clipe de restrite, cum au fost cele din perioada comunist. Din dota nevestii mi-am cumprat aparate perfecionate, mi-am instalat laborator cu electricitate i alte mbuntiri. Experienele l vor ndrepta spre tradiionala cltorie de studii n strintate. Era convins c mai are multe de nvat... Amar decepie: am lucrat o vreme - cam dou luni - la Lyon, la Uzinele Lumires, dar mi-am dat seama c-mi pierd timpul i am trecut la Paris. Aici, printr-un compatriot, am fost prezentat la Path Nathan. Angajat ca operator

asistent, am fost pus la diverse treburi mrunte n ateptarea unor minuni mai importante. Dup patru luni, vznd acalmia care domnea n studio m-am hotrt s m napoiez n ar i s m consacru muzeului, a crui realizare m muncea tot mai mult. S-a reangajat la Cultura Naional nu nainte de a-i fi acceptat condiia ca dou luni pe var s fie liber, ca s-mi vd de fotografiat. ns existena se complicase enorm. Eu eram singurul revizor i mai tot timpul eram obligat s lucrez n dou echipe. Pe de alt parte, aveam nevoie de material fotografic i trebuia s lucrez fotografii pentru librriile din ora, aa c de multe ori m culcam pe la 3-4 dimineaa, iar la 7 eram la servici!. n plus, banii ctigai cu attea sacrificii erau reinvestii n material fotografic, pentru a grbi realizarea muzeului. Cinci decenii mai trziu, doamna Constana Ionescu rememora pentru noi, cu zmbetul pe buze, acei ani de eroism cnd existena soului ei devenise aproape imperceptibil pentru ea. Mai erau cele dou luni de concediu, dei nu au fost scutite de surprize neplcute pentru o soie care pretindea puin atenie. Obsesia muzeului se cronicizase. Dar, n aceeai msur evoluase i nelepciunea. nainte de concretizarea muzeului, Nicolae Ionescu a pus n 1937 bazele unei colecii Enciclopedia Fotografic Romn. Aceast colecie de propagand a frumuseilor romneti, gndit, desigur, tematic, avea i alt scop, anume s testeze gustul publicului. i nu numai. Numele su trebuia s capete notorietate, pentru ca muzeul s aib ct mai muli vizitatori. Iat c zbuciumul artistului descoper cheia miraculoas a consacrrii, a celei administrative, desigur. Tria n Bucureti, nu la Paris. n primvara anului 1934, Eugen Lovinescu, unul dintre cei patru romni numii la 23 ianuarie 1937 n Consiliul de administraie al Societii Adevrul, i-a propus vechiului su prieten de la Cultura Naional - autor preuit de librari - funcia de director tehnic. Societatea smuls din ghearele familiei Pauker, ncpuse pe minile lui Emanoil Ttrescu, fratele Preedintelui de Consiliu, deci politica ei urma s fie liberal i naional. Nicolae Ionescu era omul cel mai potrivit pentru a administra pe aceast linie; cunotea ca puini alii suferinele i aspiraiile naiunii din snul creia provenea. Aa cum mrturisea doamna Ionescu, soul ei a zdrnicit toate aciunile de sabotaj puse la cale de numeroii lucrtori comuniti, motenii de la administraia precedent, aflat la discreia familiei Pauker. i fcea datoria fiindc aa i dicta contiina, dar nu trebuie neglijat nici interesul personal. Speranele de prosperitate s-au materializat rapid. n vara anului 1938 ia construit o caspe terenul mamei. Avea un salariu lunar de 11.000 (un ou costa 1 leu). Va rmne n aceast funcie pn n noiembrie 1940, cnd a fost retrogradat de legionarii roii ai lui Horia Sima. Motivul? O minciun grosolan: ntruct ai colaborat cu jidanii, dumneata nu mai poi ocupa

funcia de administrator i vei rmne s vezi numai de Tiefdruck. Nu colaborase, fusese doar corect, ns cu acei indivizi nu se putea discuta. Un om care cultivase cercurile ttrscane, cum a fost Nicolae Ionescu, nu putea s scape de vigilena lor. n aprilie 1945 a fondat editura Enciclopedia Fotografic Romn, care a publicat 67 de titluri. nc mai visa ca din banii obinui din vnzarea crilor s realizeze muzeul fotografic. Dar, prin 1947, constat c din motive oculte munca la editur s-a ncetinit. Nu era un naiv: Pricepusem cam trziu ceea ce ar fi trebuit sneleg mai curnd i am nceput s lichidez editura. Se instaura puterea comunist... Confruntat cu o realitate impus din afar cu tancul i mitraliera, Nicolae Ionescu se recunotea nvins. Cldirea mental a muzeului, pentru care i sacrificase cei mai frumoi ani ai vieii, se nruia i ea. Devenea un proletar care triete de azi pe mine. Au existat i cteva licriri de speran. Prima, n februarie 1948 cnd, - i amintea el - am fost reangajat la Dacia Traian (fost Adevrul, s.n.) n calitate de administrator i tehnician al revistei Realitatea, apoi i al Stadionului. A doua la finele anului 1948, cnd a fost numit profesor la coala tehnic de arte grafice de pe strada Anton Pann. n ambele cazuri a devenit victima mitomanilor care ntocmeau dosarele politice. Ca atia i atia romni era nvinuit de a fi fost fascist i mare mnctor de evrei. A fcut cunotin cu zbirii lui Pantiua care-l anchetau neobosii, n vila din Calea Plevnei col cu strada Constantin Noica, intrat n istorie sub numele de Malmaison, dei nu trebuie confundat cu vechea cazarm. Acas: percheziii, confiscri, distrugeri de bunuri materiale. Era romn, cretin, intelectual, adic tot ce putea fi mai grav n anii50. Nici nu i se mai spunea pe nume, ci bandit , ttrscan. Mai mult, n rstimpul dintre anchete era pus s lucreze la fotografii ce glorificau construcia socialismului, la Acualitatea n imagini. Era un mod de a-l umili, de a-l educa n noul spirit. A fost de cteva ori la un pas de condamnare. L-a salvat mai puin originea sntoas - erau condamnai cu zecile de mii, alii cu o origine la fel de sntoas - ct prietenia cu unii evrei care rmseser oameni. Va lucra la diverse edituri i la revista Flacra, iar ntre anii 19561962 ca fotograf la Institutul de Istoria Artei, angajat de profesorul George Oprescu, marele prieten al lui Vasile Prvan i al lui Eugen Lovinescu. Dup pensionare, Nicolae Ionescu se va ngriji s transfere o parte din materialul fotografic, la Cabinetul de Stampe al Bibliotecii Academiei Romne. Cu timpul a devenit un om al locului. Venea des i ntotdeauna ncrcat de minunii care, sublinia istoricul de art Remus Niculescu, i asigurau un loc n succesiunea marelui Szathmari. ntr-o bun zi, n 1974, prezena sa agreabil i sacul cu surprize au disprut. Au disprut ca s renasc artistul.

Nicolae Ionescu the Photographer of Bucharest


In Nicolae Ionescus outlook, Bucharest, with its highly different districts, appears as a conglomerate of towns. The distinctions among them are so big, so radical, that one can wonder with good reason: after all, which of them is actually the Capital city? Pride is apt to prompt one to point out those which are overlooked by the modern apartment buildings, erected at the time of king Carol II1, as the reassuring feeling, of belonging by blood to the great western nations, is both persistent and strong. Besides apartment buildings, we also see movie houses, aligned according to western fashion, light signs, ads, gorgeous limousines, horse racing, well almost everything of a nature to gratify the carefree fashionable eye and soul. As a matter of fact, this was not a question of kinship to Europe but rather of a leap in time, stylistically speaking, a leap taken across the Atlantic, where Americanization was lying in wait on the landing stages. As he was not in a position to challenge architecturally Paris, London, Berlin or Rome, with old Bucharest, the king had urged his architects and engineers to import the universal style from Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires, and if possible one or two New Yorkese sky-scrapers, or at least an imitation thereof as the seismic danger did not allow more. Thus modernism meant to this monarch, an escape from his inner Byzantium. But likewise the ambition, that his seat should bear alikeness to the stately European capitals. However, the excessive linearity and the utter absence of decorative elements, lend to these buildings a touch alien to European heredity, which is almost unaccountable in words. Much closer to the soul, appears the city begun simultaneously with the erection of the pavilions of the Jubilean Exhibition of 1906, and concluded right after the death of king Ferdinand.2 The prevailing style - neo-Romanian - is reminiscent of the Brancovan epoch.3 But the buildings are devoid of grace, they are bulky, heavy. Moreover they are much too similar to one another, a fact which impairs dynamism and bores ones sight. Was this meant to become the touch of the capital city of Great Romania, in the eyes of the generations to come?! Retracing the chronological course, one runs into the vestiges of the capital1) King Carol II was king of Romania, over 1930-1940 2) King Ferdinand lived over 1865-1927. The Great Union of the Romanian provinces took place on December 1, 1918, during his reign, which lasted for 13 years. 3) Constantin Brncoveanu ruled over 1688-1714 4) Alexandru Ioan Cuza was ruling-prince over 1859-1866 5) Romania became a kingdom in 1881. Carol I had the longest reign from all Romanias rulers, 48 years, over 1866-1914

city of Ruling-prince Cuza4, huddled in the shade of the monumental buildings, erected after the proclamation of the Kingdom5, during the years of the reign of Carol I, an epoch of strong Occidentalization, when so to speak, the whole of Paris was on the point of being rebuilt on the banks of the Dmbovia river. Bucharest, a European capital or Small Paris are phrases, apt to stir agitation in a world placed at the Gates of the East. The violent contrasts between grandiosity and modesty, characteristic of the implementation of west European specificality into the picturesque settlement, bereft for countless reasons of the testimonies of a more than 500 years old history, impressed Nicolae Ionescu. The pictures from this period are the most numerous ones, which clearly proves the fact that the author captured them for his own satisfaction as well as for the delight of the occasional beholder of the days to come. The antithesis, at times subtle, while at other ones downright brutal, underscores that these photographs - excellent, as a matter of fact - are thematic, documentary and, without any exaggeration, historical. The thread, so to speak leading towards the town from the 18th century and even prior to it crosses markets, the Moilor Traditional Fair, the suburbs. The Bucharesters, crowding them, are ingrained peddlers, keen on offering their merchandise for sale along the streets, with a Balkanic-Easternly hallmark, contemplative, barefooted, illiterate, bargaining on principle but being content with a farthing. Poor people, Romanians, Jews, Lippovan Russians, Gypsies - who had inherited poverty from father to son and did not even dare to forsake it. Nicolae Ionescu decoded not only the urbanistic and social strata of Bucharest down to 1940. He sought out, with a painters eye, effects of chiaroscuro, cityscapes, he scrutinized the dark alleys of the parks, in the scorching heat of summer or in the solitude of snow, he followed the call of the mystery of night. The extraordinary thing is the fact that images convey to the beholder vibrations, frames of mind, dialogize with him, they do actually live and moreover frenetically. They do have a life of their own! To become acquainted with interbella Bucharest would be impossible in the absence of the photographic testimonies, handed down by Nicolae Ionescu. A legacy at first sight tributary to a subjective selection, because it deprives one of the images of certain streets, boulevards and thoroughfares of a major historical, economic or sentimental importance in the existence of the city. Nevertheless the impression created after examining his photographs seems to ignore the mentioned absentees, the viewer undergoing, on a spiritual level, a temporal transmutation, which - to his great delight - makes him a contemporary of the immortalized sequence. We might state that this effect is caused by the revela-

tion of essentiality. That is true indeed but there is something more than that. Each time we examine again these images, we discover some details, which are gushing out to the light of perception, with the vigor of some dolphins and we keep wondering how on earth, we could have overlooked them, as they had positively been there. To no purpose nevertheless! We will never find it out, as this is the very secret of art. The exhaustiveness deplored previously, was replaced by a single fragment, but how garrulous it is, how suggestive and how marvelously did the author succeed in epitomizing an analytic category. The major part of these photographs is each individually a symbol of an urban, commercial, human aspect, a rare quality amongst art photographers throughout the world. For example, it suffices to look at one photo each captured by Nicolae Ionescu in Union Square, along Calea Victoriei, the embankment of the Dmbovia river or at the traditional Moilor fair, and realize that a dozen or a hundred other photographs of the same places, taken by others, do not bring along anything new - that they are very much alike to one another - in contradistinction to those made by the great photographer. The reason of the selection operated by Nicolae Ionescu is quite obvious value alone does survive. Setting out from this criterion, a biographical incursion appears more than necessary, in order to enable a research of the extremely winding path covered by him in outlining his artistic excellence. Nicolae Ionescu was born on the first day of November 1903, in the Filantropia maternity hospital. His mother, Rozalia Ionescu, had come from the Bukovina and married, in 1893, Nicolae Ionescu, a technician in the Gasworks, from Neatrnrii Boulevard. In 1900, her husbands death plunged her into a desperate situation. All alone, without any income she was supposed to pay off the site for their house, bought on the Filaret hill. Good luck seemed to have come up halfway: she found a poorly paid job at the Filaret Railwaystation. Her relationship with the caretaker of the station which initially seemed very promising lasted for barely three years and ended in the birth of a child and her giving up the hope of marriage. Briefly, these were the circumstances of Nicolae Ionescus coming into existence. Within this context obviously there was no question of a happy, carefree childhood. Even going to school was a corve. He attended the Enchi Vcrescu school, founded in 1864 by ruling-prince Cuza, also referred to as Maidanul Dulapului (The Ground of the Wardrobe). The itinerary from Inclinat Street to this educational establishment, located on Calea erban Vod, was more than two kilometers long. In the rain, in the snow, he covered this considerable distance, crossing Neatrnrii

Boulevard and the long Cuitul de Argint street, up to the Roman Arenas, wherefrom he made for Viilor Street and from there, his small childs steps covered almost half the length of Inclinat street up to the Pieptnari neighborhood. According to his own confession, this itinerary, made daily both ways, taught him how to look at the city and its daily existence. Later on while passing in front of the Odeon cinema - set up in a booth in 1913 - he noticed the advertising posters of the films, and quite frequently stealthily entered the movie house, together with the scapegraces, who crowded the place, violating the interdiction of viewing motion pictures meant for adults only. He was so deeply impressed with the miracle of motion pictures projected on the white canvas, that with the permission of the school instructor, he improvised a rudimentary cinema, in the school shed. Likewise within this context of the education of sight, one should not overlook several opportunities of a geographic nature: the Enchi Vcrescu school stood near the Hill of the Metropolitan Cathedral, which could provide him with panoramic views over the Bibescu Square and the Central Market Halls, overbrimming with exoticism, and which constituted a city in itself at the very core (of the Capital, with the notoriously unfavorably renowned neighborhoods of Crucea de Piatr and Flmnzi. His itinerary included the Gasworks, made a dtour of the park of the Jubilean Exhibition, along the side of the Filaret Railwaystation and of the Wolff plant. It crossed the squalid district of the railway men, stretching from Viilor Street to the Pieptnari neighborhood providing, him with an extremely varied typological range. We insisted upon this period, because the formation of the aesthetical background, even under an uncontrolled form, characteristic of childhood, results in a fundamental essential role and an unconscious relation in the course of the forthcoming years of the expression of talent. The more so, in the case of a self-taught background, which was the case of our photographer. The outbreak of WW1 prevented pupil Nicolae Ionescu to take the following step, that is enrolling for the lyce courses. The miseries of German-Bulgarian occupation had stifled any source of prosperity. He was obliged to support himself, becoming apprenticed to the Fortuna printing-house. His only joy consisted in buying a camera. In other respects, utter disaster. The winter of the second year of the war, with big frosts and snows, was a real nightmare. We had no firewood, both at home and in the workshop. In the workshop our hands froze on the composite stick, and the letters got stuck on our finger, while setting the type. Back home was mother who went out to work as an occasional cleaning woman and only when she found a charitable person, did she return with two or three pieces of firewood, which were our exclusive sources of heating the place... All along this time, I read very much. From the 30 bani, which mother used to give me,

I learned how to spend only 15 on food (5 bani on scraps of sausages and 10 bani for bread) while on the rest I bought second-hand copies of the collection Biblioteca pentru toi (Everymans Library). As it clearly results, the little money he earned, he handed over to support the family, the keeping of the books devolving on his mother. It goes without saying that these hard times also made their contribution to the formation of the man he was to become: abnegation, willpower, selflessness were the coordinates of his character and the latters expression, his conduct in society. In 1918 he became a typesetter. His guide had been Dimitrie Demetrian, one of the outstanding experts, who had improved his know-how in Germany, in the cities of Frankfort, Dresden and Leipzig. On Sundays, he used to take me, with a fathers kindness, to his home, where he gave me the opportunity to examine years-old collections of German, French and especially Swiss magazines of profile. This constituted the foundation, on which I amassed all my further technical pieces of knowledge. At his mentors suggestion, he set out exploring for new jobs, both better equipped technically and better paid. In 1921, he found a position at Minerva, the printing-house of the Romanian Masonic Lodge, deeply involved, through its workers, in the events of Bolshevik origin, on December 13, 1918. As he was the only Romanian in the workshop and did not understand Yiddish, he quit the job, in the spring of 1922. Upon Demetrians recommendation, he got a job at Cultura Naional the most up-to-date printing-house in South-East Europe, built by Aristide Blank in Calea erban Vod. In this liberal fief he became acquainted among others, with Vasile Prvan, I.G. Duca, Eugen Lovinescu, dr. C. Angelescu, outstanding leaders of Romanian political and cultural life, who superintended personally - the printing of their books. His talks with them prompted him to enroll at the evening courses of the St. Sava lyce, which he graduated within two years. He felt an increasing attraction for photography. I had a German photography handbook and photography was now my great hobby. For reasons easy to comprehend he learned French and German, which he soon came to master. Promoted foreman, he became acquainted with Simion Mehedini, who employed him over the winter of 1922-1923, in order to lend a new graphical look to the Convorbiri Literare magazine. It seems that his ideas were not accepted, because he returned to Cultura Naional, within less than three months. In the spring of 1925 he left to serve in the army. Here he had an opportunity to profess in the field of photography. Beginning with May 1925 till autumn, I made exclusively military photographs, with my own camera, a high class one, which I had managed to buy. When I returned to Bucharest, I started

research work at home, with a view to obtain color photos, by mechanical devices. My attempts led to some results but turned out much too expensive. On the other hand, another idea arose in his mind. Beginning with 1927, each summer, I travelled across the country, in order to photograph methodically the most representative spots, collecting negatives for the organization of a museum of photographs. A museum of photographs: an equally original but chanceless idea. As always and everywhere, in order to achieve something, particularly something generous, one needs money. Or precisely what Nicolae Ionescu did not have was money. The project could not be implemented overnight, as he had wished. It could not have observed even the first condition required from a museum: quality. As one can easily realize this was a plan sprung forth from the enthusiasm of youthfulness. However, the artist did not give it up. In time, he came to understand what was utopian but also what was feasible in his project that is endurance, improvement, aesthetic education, selection. Simultaneously with reaching higher standards in photographic technique, he felt that in order to succeed in photographic art, he was supposed to take up again most thoroughly the study of cinema. The huge progress reached in photography prompted me to approach film, too. We presume that he made a number of motion pictures, most likely still in existence bearing the label author unknown, in the National Film Archives. At least one documentary film on Bucharest, I viewed on television, bears the unmistakable touch of Nicolae Ionescu. During this very year 1928, devoted to his great passion, he took the decisive step of marriage. His path had crossed several times that of a girl living in his neighborhood, Constana, the daughter of a retired railwayman. She became his wife and her cheerful nature was to brighten up his countless moments of distress, such as those from the communist period. From my wifes dowry, I bought high fidelity cameras and equipped a lab with electricity as well as with other facilities. His experiments were to direct him to take the traditional study trip abroad. He was convinced that he had still much to learn... A bitter disappointment followed however. For some time about two months - I worked in Lyon, in the Lumire Studio Labs, but I soon came to realize that it was a waste of time. So I left for Paris. Here, through a fellow countryman, I was introduced to Path Nathan. Hired as an assistant cameraman, I was employed in various minor jobs, in expectation of some really major ventures. After four months, realizing the apathy which reigned over the studio I decided to return to this country, and devote myself to the museum, whose setting up came to haunt me increasingly. He renewed his employment at Cultura Naional but not before setting

the condition to be free in summer for two months, so as to mind my own business, taking photographs. However life had turned enormously complicated. I was the only reviser and had to work through two shifts consecutively almost all the time. On the other hand, I needed photographic material and I had to make photos for the bookshops in the city, so that I frequently went to bed at 3 or 4 oclock A.M. and at 7 A.M. I was back at work! Moreover, the money earned at the price of such sacrifices, was reinvested into photographic material, in order to hasten the setting-up of the museum. Five decades later, with the shade of a smile on her lips, Mrs. Constana Ionescu called forth those years of heroism, when her husbands presence had become almost imperceptible to her. Those two months of holidays still existed, though not exempted from unpleasant surprises, to a wife demanding a little bit of attention for herself. The obsession of the museum had become a chronic one. But wisdom had developed accordingly. Prior to the materialization of the museum, Nicolae Ionescu had set up the foundations to a collection - The Romanian Photographic Encyclopedia - in 1937. This promotional collection of Romanian sights, of course conceived thematically, simultaneously had a further target, and namely to test the publics taste. And something in addition, too. His name was supposed to gain notoriety, so that the future museum should have a large number of visitors. This was how the artists hard struggle found the miraculous key leading to assertion, to an administrative one of course. He lived in Bucharest, not in Paris. In the spring of 1934, Eugen Lovinescu, one of the four Romanians appointed on January 23, 1937, on the Board of Directors of the Adevrul Company, offered his one-time friend from Cultura Naional - an author highly valued by the book-shop owners - the office of a technical manager. The company, freed from the claws of the Pauker family, was headed by Emanoil Ttrescu, the brother of the Chairman of the Board, consequently its policy was meant to be liberal and national. Nicolae Ionescu was the right man to be an administrator along this line; he knew better than anyone else the sufferings and aspirations of the nation, he came from. As Mrs. Ionescu later confessed, her husband had baffled all the sabotage actions prepared by the numerous communist workers, inherited from the previous administration, which was still at the beck and call of the Pauker family. He was merely discharging his duty, as his conscience demanded him. However, personal matters were not to be neglected either. His hopes for prosperity materialized rapidly. In the summer of 1938, he built a house, on his mothers site. His monthly wages amounted to 11,000 lei (an egg cost 1 leu). He was to hold this office till November 1940, when he was demoted, by Horia Simas red Iron-Guardists. The reason thereof? A gross lie.

As you had collaborated with the Yids, you can no longer hold the office of a manager and shall solely supervise mezzotint operations. He had not collaborated, all he had done was do his work properly. But it was out of the question to discuss with such individuals. A man who had cultivated the circle of Ttrescu, and this was the case of Nicolae Ionescu, could not elude their vigilance. In April 1945 he set up the Romanian Photographic Encyclopedia publishing house, which brought out 67 titles. He was still cherishing the dream of setting up the museum, out of the money obtained by selling the books. But around 1947, he found out that for some occult reasons the activity at the publishing house had slowed down. He was not a nave man: I understood rather too late, that which I should have comprehended earlier and I began going in liquidation with the publishing-house. Communist power had been set up... Confronted with a reality, imposed from outside, with tanks and machineguns, Nicolae Ionescu felt utterly defeated. The mental edifice of the museum, for which he had sacrificed the finest years of his life, was also collapsing. He was becoming a proletarian, who lived from hand to mouth. There also existed a few rays of hope. The first one, in February 1948, when as he reminisced: I was employed again at Dacia Traian (the former Adevrul) as administrator and technician of the magazine Realitatea and subsequently of the Stadionul. The second one, at the end of 1948, when he was appointed a teacher at the Technical School of Graphic Arts, in Anton Pann street. In both cases he fell a prey to the mythomaniacs, who were drawing up the political files. The same as countless other Romanians he was accused of having been a fascist and a great hater of Jews. He made the acquaintance of Pantiuas sbirri, who tirelessly interrogated him in the villa from Calea Plevnei at the corner with Constantin Noica Street, which came to be referred to as Malmaison, though it should not be mixed up with the old barracks. At home: house searchings, seizures, destructions of material goods. He was a Romanian, a Christian, an intellectual, that is the worst possible thing in the Fifties. He was no longer addressed to by his real name but as Tatrescus bandit. Moreover during the breaks (between the cross-examinations) he was forced to make photographs, which glorified the building of socialism, for Actualitatea n imagini (Present-day Reality in Images). It was a way of humiliating him, of educating him in the new spirit. He was several times barely at one step from being sentenced to prison. He was rescued less by his healthy social extraction tens of thousands of people of an equally healthy social extraction had been sentenced - but rather by his friendship with some kind-hearted Jews. He subsequently worked at different publishing-houses and at the Flacra magazine,

while over 1956-1962, as a photographer of the Institute of Art History, employed by professor George Oprescu, the great friend of Vasile Prvan and Eugen Lovinescu. After his retirement, Nicolae Ionescu attended to the transfer of part of his photographic material to the Cabinet of Prints from the Library of the Romanian Academy. In time he turned into a very familiar face of the place. He frequently came and always bringing along some wondrous things, which as pointed out by art historian Remus Niculescu, secured him a place in the succession of the great Szathmari. One day, in 1974, his pleasing presence and the sack with surprises disappeared. They disappeared so that the artist should be born again.

Nicolae Ionescu Le photographe de Bucarest


Dans la conception de Nicolae Ionescu, Bucarest, avec ses si diffrents quartiers, se prsente comme une agglomration de villes. Les diffrences entre celles-ci sont si importantes, si radicales, qu vrai dire tu te demandes : lesquelles dentre elles est la Capitale ? Lorgueil te conseille dindiquer celles domines par les immeubles modernes levs pendant le rgne du roi Charles II1 , car le sentiment reconfortant quon appartient par le sang aux grandes nations occidentales est persistant et puissant. Autour des immeubles on voit des cinmas aligns conformment la mode occidentale, des enseignes lumineuses, des limousines lgantes, des courses de chevaux, enfin, tout ce qui pourrait rjouir lme mondain qui lui manque le souci du pain quotidien. vrai dire il ne sagissait pas dune alliance avec lEurope, mais dun saut dans le temps, concernant le style, un saut outre lAtlantique, o le phnomne damricanisation attendait sur les quais. Ne pouvant pas opposer du point de vue architectural la vieille ville de Bucarest celle de Paris, Londres, Berlin ou Rome, le roi avait incit les architectes et les ingnieurs dimporter le style universel de Rio de Janeiro ou de Buenos Aires, si cela simpose aussi un gratte-ciel new-yorkais, au moins une imitation si le sol et le danger sismique ne le permettaient pas. Cest ainsi, que la modernisation a reprsent pour ce souverain une vadation de lintrieur du Byzance. Mais aussi lambition qu lavenir, sa ville de rsidence ressemble aux majestueuses capitales europennes. Tout de mme, lalignement excessif et labsence absolue des lments dcoratifs confrent ces immeubles quelque chose dtrange lhrdit europenne, difficile expliquer. Beaucoup plus proche de lme, semble la ville commence en mme temps que la construction des pavillons de lExposition Jubilaire de 1906 et acheve la disparition du roi Ferdinand2 . Le style dominant - noroumain - nous fait penser lpoque de Brncoveanu3 . Mais les constructions nont pas dlgance, sont massives, lourdes. En plus, elles se ressemblent trop, ce qui empche le dynamisme et fatigue le regard. Cela devait reprsenter lempreinte de la capitale de la Grande Roumanie dans lavenir ? En passant reculons sur le fil chronologique, tu atteints les rudiments de la
1) Le roi Charles II a t le roi de la Roumanie entre 1930-1940. 2) Le roi Ferdinand a vcu entre les annes 1865-1927. La Grande Unification des provinces roumaines a eu lieu le 1-er dcembre 1918, pendant son rgne, qui a dur 13 ans. 3) Constantin Brncoveanu a rgn pendant les annes 1688-1714. 4) Alexandru Ioan Cuza a rgn pendant les annes 1859-1866. 5) La Roumanie est devenue royaume en 1881. Charles I-er a eu la plus longue priode de rgne parmi les dirigeants de la Roumanie, 48 ans, entre 1866-1914.

capitale de Cuza Voda4 blottis lombre des constructions monumentales leves aprs la proclamation du Royaume5 , lpoque du Charles I-er, annes doccidentalisation intensive, lorsquil a peu manqu pour que tout Paris soit reconstruit aux bords du Danube. Bucarest capitale europenne ou Le Petit Paris sont des associations de mots qui vont toujours dclencher une agitation dans un monde aux Portes de lOrient. Les contrastes violents entre le grandieux et le modeste, caractristiques lintroduction du spcifique ouest-europen dans lhabitat pittoresque, dtrior pour des raisons diffrentes par les tmoins dune histoire qui date de plus dun millnaire, ont aussi impressionn Nicolae Ionescu. Les images de cette priode sont les plus nombreuses, tant trs clair que lauteur les a immortalises pour sa propre satisfaction et pour dlecter le spectateur occasionnel de demain. Lantithze, parfois subtile, autrefois brutale, souligne que ces photos - dailleures excellentes - sont conformes un thme, documentaires et, sans xagration, historiques. La ligne directrice vers la ville du XVIII-me sicle et mme dauparavant, passe travers les marchs, la Foire, les quartiers. Les habitants de Bucarest qui les peuplent sont des marchands de tte pied, acharns au commerce de la rue caractre balcanique-oriental, contemplatifs, pieds-nus, illettrs, en marchandant par principe, mais se contentant de trois fois rien. Des gens pauvres - roumains, juifs, russes, jitans - qui ont hrit la pauvret de pre en fils et nosaient mme pas se dbarasser delle. Nicolae Ionescu na pas dchiffr que les couches dilitaires et sociales de Bucarest jusquen 1940. Il a cherch avec loeil de peintre des effets du clairobscur, des paysages urbains, a examin les alles des parcs dans le soleil brlant de lt ou dans la solitude de la neige, il sest laiss conduit par le mystre de la nuit. Chose extraordinaire, les images transmettent au spectateur des vibrations, tats dme, dialoguent avec lui, sont vivantes, et en plus dune manire frntique. Elles ont droit la vie ! La connaissance de Bucarest des deux guerres mondiales serait impossible sans les tmoignages des photos laisss par Nicolae Ionescu. Un hritage premire vue tributaire une slection subjective, car elle nous prive des images de certaines rues, boulevards et voies caractre historique, conomique ou sentimental dans la vie de la ville. Tout de mme limpression cre par le parcours de ses photos semble ignorer les absences signales, le spectateur souffrant du point de vue spirituel une transmutation temporelle qui le rend, son grand dlice, contemporain avec la squence immortalise.On peut dire que cet effet est produit par la rvlation de lessentiel. Il est ainsi, pas seulement autant. Il y a l-bas un mystre do provient sans arrt le frmissement artistique. Chaque

fois que nous revenons sur ces images, nous dcouvrons des dtails qui surgissent vers la lumire de la perception avec la vigueur de quelques dauphins et nous nous demandons comment elles ont pu chapper notre regard, car elles auraient d tre l. En vain. On napprendra jamais, car ceci est le mystre de lart. Lexhaustivit dploye ci-dessus a t remplace par un seul fragment, mais comme il est bavard, comme il est suggestif, comment lauteur russit si merveilleusement de concentrer une catgorie analytique. La plupart de ces photos reprsentent, chacune part, des symboles dun aspect urbain, commercial, humain, qualit rare pour les artistes photographes du monde entier. Il est suffisant, de regarder par exemple, chaque photo prise par Nicolae Ionescu du ct du March Unirea, Calea Victoriei, les Quais de Dmbovita ou de la Foire afin de constater que 10 fois cent autres photos, des mmes endroits napportent rien de neuf - se ressemblent entre elles - la diffrence de cellles du grand photographe. Il nous est clair la raison de la slection faite par Nicolae Ionescu : seulement la valeur survit. Partant de ce critre, lincursion biographique apparat plus que ncessaire en vue denquter le chemin si sinueux de sa formation artistique. Nicolae Ionescu est n le premier jour du mois de novembre de lanne 1903 la maternit Philantropia. Sa mre, Rozalie Ionescu, tait venue de Bucovine et stait marie en 1893 Nicolae Ionescu, technicien lUsine de Gaz situe sur le boulevard de lIndpendance. En 1900 le dces de son mari la mise dans une situation trs dlicate : seule et sans ressources, devant acquitter le terrain achet sur la Colline de Filaret. La chance lui a souri moiti: elle a trouv du travail la Gare Filaret, mais mal rmunre. La connaissance avec ladministrateur de la gare, bnfique au dpart, a dur que trois ans et a eu comme consquences la naissance dun enfant et la rsignation pour le mariage. Voici brivement les circonstances de la naissance de Nicolae Ionescu. Dans ce contexte on ne peut pas parler dune enfance heureuse, dun manque de soucis. Mme le chemin jusqu lcole tait une corve. Il a appris lcole Enachita Vacarescu, fonde par Voda Cuza en 1864 et connue sous le nom du Le terrain de lArmoire, le chemin de la rue Incline et jusqu cet tablissement situ sur la Voie Serban Voda tant de plus de deux kilomtres. Sous la pluie, sous la neige, il parcourait cette distance traversant le boulevard le lIndpendance et la longue rue Le Couteau dArgent jusquen face des Arnes Romanes, do il se dirigeait vers la chausse des Vignes, et de l ses pas minuscules denfant parcourait la rue Incline plus de la moiti de sa longueur, jusquen face de la rue Pieptanari. Selon son propre tmoignage, ce trajet parcouru journellement dans les deux sens lont appris regarder la ville et sa vie quotidienne. Plus tard, passant devant le cinma Odon - amenag en 1913 dans une baraque - il a

vu la publicit des films et pas une seule fois il sest faufil dans la salle avec les polissons qui fourmillaient l-bas, violant linterdiction de visioner des films pour adultes. Il a t si impressionn par le miracle du mouvement projet sur la toile blanche quavec laccord de lducateur, a improvis un cinma rudimentaire dans les granges de lcole. Toujours dans ce contexte de lducation du regard on ne peut pas dpasser quelques chances dordre gographique : lcole Enachita Vacarescu se trouvait dans le voisinage de la Colline de lInstitution Suprieure de lEglise Ortodoxe, qui pouvait lui confrer des panoramas avec le March Bibescu et les Halles Centrales, dbordant dexotisme et qui formaient une ville dans le centre de la Capitale, avec les tranges quartiers mal fams La Croix de Pierre et Les Affams ; le chemin passait devant lUsine de Gaz, contournait le parc de lExposition jubilaire devant la Gare Filaret et lUsine Wolff ; traversait le quartier misrable des cheminots entre la Chausse des Vignes et Pieptanari, lui offrant son tour une game typologique extrmement varie. Jai insist sur cette priode, car la formation esthtique, mme sous la forme non controle propre lenfance, a un rle essentiel, de base et aussi celui de se rfrer inconsciemment, dans les annes o il exprime son talent. Surtout dans la situation dune formation dautodidacte, ce qui est le cas de notre photographe. Le dclenchement de la premire guerre mondiale a empch llve Nicolae Ionescu de continuer sur la voie normale, linscription au lyce. Les dgts de loccupation allemande-bulgare ont cart toute source de prosprit. Il a t oblig de sentretenir seul, en devenant apprenti lImprimerie Fortuna. La seule joie la constitue lachat dun appareil photo, autrement dsastre sur toute la ligne. Lhiver de la deuxime guerre mondiale, avec des temptes et neiges importantes, a reprsent un vrai cauchemar. Il navait de bois ni la maison, ni latelier. latelier nos mains taient geles sur la manche de la machine, et la lettre collait la peau lorsquelle elle tait cueillie. la maison, ma pauvre mre avait un travail journalier et seulement quand elle trouvait quelquun avec de la piti, venait avec deux ou trois morceaux de bois ; et ceux-l reprsentaient notre source de chaleur . Pendant tout ce temps je lisais beaucoup. Des 30 sous que ma mre me donnait, javais appris manger seulement pour 15 (5 pour des restes de charcuterie et 10 pour le pain), et avec le restant de 15 sous jachetais de vieux numros de la Bibliothque pour tous. Tel que lon voit, largent gagn le donnait dans la maison, leur comptabilit revenant sa mre. Sans doute que ces temps difficiles ont contribu la formation du caractre de lhomme de plus tard : abngation, volont, altruisme ont t les coordonnes de son caractre et de son expression, le comportement dans la socit. En 1918, il est devenu typographe. Il a eu comme professeur Dimitrie Demetrian, lun

des spcialistes minents qui stait perfectionn en Allemagne, Frankfurt, Dresda et Leipzig. Il me prenait chez lui les dimanches et, avec une bienveillance de parent, me mettait la disposition des collections compltes de revues de spcialit allemandes, franaises et surtout suisses. Ceci a constitu la base o par la suite jai accumul toutes mes autres connaissances techniques. Sous le conseil du matre, il ttonnera dautres emplois mieux dots du point de vue technique et mieux rmunrs. En 1921, il trouve une place auprs de Minerva, la typographie appartenant lOrdre des Francs-Maons Roumains, implique profondment, travers ses ouvriers, dans les vnements de source bolchevique du 13 dcembre 1918. tant le seul roumain de latelier et ne comprennant pas yiddish, la quitte au mois de printemps de lanne 1922. Il obtient base dune recommandation de Demetrian, une place auprs de la Culture Nationale, la plus moderne typographie du soud-est de lEurope, construite par Aristide Blank sur la Voie Serban Voda. Dans ce fief liberal il connatra, parmi dautres personnalits, Vasile Prvan, I.G. Duca, Eugen Lovinescu, dr. C. Angelescu, coryphes de la vie politique et culturelle roumaine, qui surveillaient personnellement limpression des livres. Les discussions eues avec ceux-ci lont dtermin de sinscrire durant lautomne de lanne 1922 au lyce Sf. Sava, aux cours du soir, do il obtiendra aprs deux ans, le diplme. Il se sent de plus en plus plus attir par la photographie : javais un manuel allemand de photographie et la photographie tait maintenant ma plus grande passion : Suite des raisons faciles comprendre, il apprend le franais et lallemand, qui les matrisera trs bien par la suite. Nomm chef dquipe, il a connu Simion Mehedinti, qui la embauch pendant lhiver de lanne 1922-1923 auprs des Discussions Littraires, en vue de donner un nouvel aspect la revue. Il parrait que ces ides nont pas abouti, car il est revenu la Culture Nationale dans moins de trois mois. Au printemps de lanne 1925 il est parti faire son service militaire. Ii il aura loccasion dxercer le mtier de photographe. partir du mois de mai 1925 et jusquen automne, jai travaill uniquement des photos militaires avec un appareil personnel, le premier appareil de grande classe que javais russi macheter. Au retour Bucarest, jai commenc de faire la maison des essais afin dobtenir des photos en couleurs par voie mcanique. Mes essais ont donn quelques rsultats, mais revenaient trop cher. Dautre part, une ide lui trottait par la cervelle : Commenant par lanne 1927, chaque t jai vadrouill dans le pays pour photographier mthodiquement les plus reprsentatifs coins, ramassant des clichs en vue dorganiser un muse de photos. Le muse de photos : une ide qui tait originale et la fois sans aucune chance. Comme toujours et partout pour raliser quelque chose, surtout

quelque chose de gnreux, on a besoin de largent. Mais, juste largent manquait Nicolae Ionescu. Le projet ne pouvait pas tre ralis sur le champ, tel quil aurait souhait. Il naurait pas respect ni la premire condition exige par un muse : la qualit. Tel que lon constate, ctait un projet issu de lenthousiasme de la jeunesse. Mais lartiste na pas rennonc celui-ci ; travers le temps il a compris ce qui tait utopique, mais aussi ce qui tait ralisable pour son projet cest--dire patience, perfectionnement, ducation esthtique, slection. Avec le perfectionnement de la technique de la photographie, il sent que pour accder lart photographique, il serait bien de reprendre trs srieusement ltude du septime art : les progrs importants raliss dans la photographie mont dtermin de moccuper galement du cinma. Nous supposons quil a ralis quelques films, existants problablement aussi aujourdhui, dans lArchive Nationale des Films, avec la mention auteur inconnu. Au moins un documentaire sur Bucarest, droul sur les petits crans, porte - selon notre opinion - lemblme de Nicolae Ionescu. Cette anne, 1928, ddie aux grandes passions, il fait le grand pas : il se marie. Son chemin sentrecroise avec celui dune voisine, Constanta, la fille dun propritaire cheminot. Elle sera son pouse et sa nature gaie lui ensoleillera les nombreux moments difficiles, tels ceux de la priode communiste. De la dotte de ma femme, je me suis achet des appareils perfectionns, jai mis en place un laboratoire avec lectricit et autres facilits. Les expriences vont le conduire vers le traditionnel voyage dtudes ltranger. Il tait convaincu quil en a encore beaucoup apprendre Triste dception : jai travaill une priode de temps - environ deux mois - Lyon, aux Usines Lumires, mais je me suis rendu compte que je perds mon temps et je suis all Paris. Ii, travers un compatriote jai t prsent Path Nathan. Embauch comme assistant oprateur, on ma demand au dpart des petits boulots en attendant par la suite, quelque chose plus important. Aprs quatre mois, en mappercevant de lacalmie qui rgnait dans le studio, jai dcid de rentrer dans le pays et de me consacrer au muse, dont sa ralisation me proccupait de plus en plus. Il a t embauch nouveau par la La Culture Nationale, pas avant de lui tre accept la condition dtre libre en t pendant deux mois, afin de se ddier la photographie. Mais lexistence stait complique normment. Jai t le seul rviseur et la plupart du temps jtais oblig travailler dans deux quipes. Dautre part, javais besoin du matriel photo et je devais faire des photos pour les librairies de la ville, cest pourquoi beaucoup de fois je me couchais vers 34 heures du matin, et 7 heures jtais mon travail!. Outre cela, largent gagn avec tant de sacrifices tait rinvesti dans le matriel photo, en vue dacclerer la ralisation du muse.

Cinq dcennies plus tard, Madame Constanta Ionescu remmorisait pour nous, avec le sourire aux lvres, ces annes dhrosme quand lexistence de son mari tait devenue presque imperceptible pour elle. Il y avait encore ces deux mois de cong, bien que les surprises non dsires naient pas manqu la femme qui prtendait un peu plus dattention. Lobsession du muse tait devenue une ide fixe. Mais galement la sagesse avait volu aussi. Avant que le muse se concrtise, en 1937, Nicolae Ionescu a mis les bases dune collection Lencyclopdie de la Photographie Roumaine. Cette collection de propagande concernant les beauts roumaines, bien rflchie, certainement, lgard des thmes, avait aussi un autre but, celui de tester le got du public. Et non seulement cela. Son nom devait prendre de la notoriet, pour que le muse ait beaucoup de visitateurs. Voil que le bruit de lartiste dcouvre la cl miraculeuse de la consacration, de celle administrative, certainement. Il vivait Bucarest, et non pas Paris. Au printemps de lanne 1934, Eugen Lovinescu, un des quatre roumains nomms le 23 janvier 1937 dans le Conseil dadministration de la Socit La Vrit, a propos son vieil ami de la Culture Nationale - auteur apprci par les libraires - la fonction de directeur technique. La socit arrache aux griffes de la famille Pauker, appartenait maintenant Emanoil Tatarescu, le frre du Prsident du Conseil, donc sa politique allait tre librale et nationale. Nicolae Ionescu tait lhomme le plus adquat pour administrer dans ce sens ; connaissait plus que dautres les souffrances et les aspirations de la nation laquelle il appartenait. Tel que disait Madame Ionescu, son mari a ananti toutes les actions de sabotage organises par les nombreux travailleurs communistes, hrits de ladminstration prcdente, mise la disposition de la famille Pauker. Il faisait son devoir, car cest ainsi que sa consciensce lui dictait, mais il ne faut pas non plus ngliger lintrt personnel. Les espoirs de prosprit ont t vite matrialiss. Pendant lt 1938, il sest construit une maison sur le terrain de sa mre. Il percevait un salaire mensuel de 11.000 (un oeuf vallait 1 leu). Il restera dans cette fonction jusquau mois de novembre 1940, quand il a t rtrograd par les lgionnaires rouges de Horia Sima. La raison ? Un mensonge grossier : Car tu as collabor avec les juifs, tu ne peux plus occuper la fonction dadministrateur et tu toccupera que du Tiefdruck. Il navait pas collabor, il navait t que correcte, mais avec ces individus on ne pouvait pas discuter. Une personne qui avait cultiv les cercles de Tatarescu, comme Nicolae Ionescu, ne pouvait pas se dbarasser de leur vigilence. En avril 1945 il a fond les ditions lEncyclopdie de la Photographie Roumaine, qui a publi 67 titres. Il rvait encore raliser le muse de la photographie, de largent obtenu de la vente des livres. Mais, en 1947, il constate suite des raisons occultes le travail dans la maison ddition a ralenti. Ce

ntait pas un naf : Javais compris un peu tard ce que jaurais d comprendre plus tt et jai commenc liquider les ditions. Le pouvoir communiste venait dtre instaur. Confront une ralit impose de lextrieur par le char et la mitrailleuse, Nicolae Ionescu reconnaissait tre vaincu. Ldifice du muse port dans sa mmoire, pour lequel il stait sacrifi les plus belles annes de sa vie, sffondrait aussi. Il devenait un proltaire qui vit du jour au lendemain. Il y a eu galement quelques clats despoir. Le premier, en fvrier 1948, lorsquil - se rappelait luimme - jai t embauch nouveau par Dacia Traiana (auparavant la Vrit) en qualit dadministrateur et technicien de la revue La Ralit et aprs de la revue Le stade. Le deuxime, la fin de lanne 1948, lorsquil a t nomm professeur lcole technique dart graphiques situe dans la rue Anton Pann. Dans les deux cas, il est devenu la victime des menteurs qui tablissaient les dossiers politiques. Comme tant et tant de roumains, il tait accus dtre fasciste et gros mangeur de juifs. Il a fait connaissance aves les reprsentants cruels de Pantiusa qui lenqutaient sans rpit, dans la villa qui se trouvait sur la Voie Plevnei au coin de la rue Constantin Noica, entre dans lhistoire sous le nom de Malmaison bien quelle ne doive pas tre confondue avec lancienne caserne. la maison : perquisitions, confiscations, destructions de biens matriels. Il tait roumain, chrtien, intellectuel, vrai dire, tout ce qui pouvait tre de plus grave dans les annes 50. On ne lappelait plus sous son prnom, mais bandit de Tatarascu. Dautant plus, dans lintervalle des enqutes, on lui demandait de travailler des photos pour lActualit en images, photos qui reprsentaient la gloire de la construction du socialisme. Ctait une modalit de lhumilier, de lduquer dans lesprit nouveau. Il a t plusieurs fois un pas de la condamnation. Il a t moins sauv par lorigine ouvrire, dautres ayant une origine semblable, taient aussi condamns par des dizaines de milliers - que par lamiti avec certains juifs qui taient rests de braves gens. Il travaillera pour dautres maisons dditions et aussi pour la revue Flacara(La flamme), et entre les annes 1956-1962 en tant que photographe auprs de lInstitut dHistoire de lArt, embauch par le professeur George Oprescu, le grand ami de Vasile Prvan et dEugen Lovinescu. Aprs la retraite, Nicolae Ionescu soccupera de transfrer une partie du matriel photographique, au Cabinet dEstampes de la Bibliothque de lAcadmie Roumaine. travers le temps il est devenu insparable de cet endroit. Il venait rgulirement et toujours charg de merveilles qui, selon le critique dart Remus Niculescu, lui assuraient une place dans la succession du grand Szatmari. Un beau jour, en 1974, sa prsence agrable et la besace pleine de surprises ont disparu. Elles ont disparu pour que lartiste puisse renatre.

Dealul Patriarhiei. Poarta de intrare spre Catedral. In fa, statuia Lupa Capitolina druit de oraul Roma n anul 1906. The hill of the Patriarchal Cathedral. The entrance gate. In front the statue Lupa Capitolina, bestowed by the city of Rome in 1906.

Lipscani Street, 1929. The area of the traditional small wares street vendors.

The National Bank, 1924. At the corner the Eugeniu Carada monument.

The famous dwarf Samson riding his bicycle. In front of the Majestic Theatre.

The Flora Restaurant from the osea (Avenue), 1927.

The street-lamps are being lit, 1927

Street behind Vcreti street, 1929.

New and old, 1928

Sunday, along Calea Victoriei, 1923. View from Louvre Hotel.

A lane towards Puul cu ap rece (The Fountain with Cold Water) Street, 1922. The well-known small Stairway connected the Uranus and Izvor streets.

The Vlad epe Castle, 1928. It was actually the water tower, used at the Jubilean Exhibition of 1906. In the Carol Park

Lemonade vendor taking a rest in the Cimigiu Gardens, 1928.

The entrance at the dancery from the Nerva Traian street.

A lane towards Puul cu ap rece (The Fountain with Cold Water) Street, 1930.

A peasant from the Apuseni Mountains, wandering through Bucharest, 1928.

The railway-crossing barrier from Colentina district, 1932.

The train heading for Maglavit (where a miracle-worker lived), 1938

Heading for the Floreasca Pits area, 1927.

At Carol Bngers, on Calea Victoriei, could be seen the biggest thermometer throughout the city, 1929

The bazaar from Calea Griviei, 1927.

Traditional Cluari folk dancers from Arge county, 1930. In the Carol Park.

A female servant, 1928.

In an establishment from the Crucea de Piatr (The Stone Cross) area.

At the home for foundlings, 1928.

Traditional coach-driver muscal in winter, 1928.

Gipsy woman, 1934.

Gipsy man, 1931

At the Moi traditional fair, 1925. Acrobatics.

At the Moi traditional fair, 1932. Target Shooting.

At the traditional Moi Fair, 1929. The grand parade of the circus acrobats.

Circus at the traditional Moi Fair, 1925.

Bear leader in the Vitan district, 1929.

At the Moi traditional fair, 1925. Newlyweds in the Wardrobe.

At the traditional Moi Fair, 1932.

At the traditional Moi fair, 1925.

Night shelter for the homeless, 1929.

Florreas pe bulevardul Brtianu, 1935. Flower vendor on Brtianu Boulevard, 1935. Fleuriste sur le boulevard Bratianu, 1935.

Peasants entering Bucharest on sledge, 1929.

Wayfarers over a glass of plum-brandy at the Gura Lupului Inn, 1927.

Rain-makers, 1935.

Bartering at the Taica Lazr (Dad Lazarus flea market), 1928.

On the edge of the market, a sausages vendor, 1929.

In a Bucharest suburb, looking forward to the Christmas caroll singers , 1932.

Along Carol Street, 1928. Between the Big Market Place and the erban Vod Bridge.

Carolling Children, 1929.

Trumpeters announce the beginning of the festivities of Tinerimea Romn at the Roman Arenas, 1930.

Traditional Oltenian greengrocery street vendors, 1930. Probably protestting against the prohibition of peddling.

The owner of the Gura Lupului (The Wolfs Muzzle) inn from Dudeti street.

The sausage shop by the exit from Bibescu Vod Square, 1929.

The first electric traffic lights introduced into the city, at the crossing of Elisabeta Boulevard with Calea Victoriei, 1929.

Calea Victoriei in winter, 1928. Between Capa restaurant and Louvre hotel.

The Dmbovia river, in front of the Central Market Halls, 1926.

In the Carol Park, 1927.

The restaurant by the landing stage from the Cimigiu Gardens, 1935.

Epiphany. The crucifix is thrown into the Dmbovia river, by prince Nicolae.

Brtianu Boulevard, the Carlton apartment building on the right, 1935.

The Square of the National Theatre, 1930. The Socomet apartment building.

Overall view of the Big Market Place, 1926.

The Regal street, 1935. The D. Niculescu building and Continental Hotel.

The Square of the Military Circle, 1930. The telescope, from the picture, was still in use after World War II.

The portal of the National Theatre, 1928.

The Brancovan bridge and foundation, 1924.

The Bneasa Racetrack, 1927. Constana Ionescu, the first one from the fence.

The building at the corner of Lipscani Street. The Sf. Gheorghe Square, 1923.

Calea Victoriei, 1930. In front of the Savoy Theatre.

Calea Victoriei, 1935. View opening on the Telephone Palace.

The Stock Exchange of Bucharest, 1928.

Fotografii Bucuretilor, Un fotograf al Bucuretilor, Nicolae Ionescu 1903-1974, Autobiografia,