Dimitrie Berea
Dimitrie Berea

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 of generations.

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 painter.

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 exhibition catalogs.

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.

By 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.

Berea 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.

Dimitrie Berea 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 money.

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.

* from Askart.com