Vasile Kazar was a graphic artist, draughtsman, and illustrator. He was born into a wealthy family of Jewish intellectuals, which allowed him after graduating high school in his hometown to continue his studies in Baia Mare, Budapest, and at the Academie Grande Chaumière in Paris. He began his career by illustrating in the early 1930s left-wing magazines as Stânga and Cuvântul liber. In 1932 he had a solo exhibition in Cluj, and in 1937 he published, in Oradea, the album Pita de mălai (Corn bread), which includes 12 drawings of the peasant life of Maramureş; dramatically detailed, showing the influences of Pieter Bruegel I and of Japanese prints – works that will be exhibited next year to the Contemporary Art Galleries in Paris. In 1944, he was deported to a Nazi concentration camps where he lost his parents. Holocaust survivor, from 1950 until 1976 he was a lecturer, then professor at the Department of Graphic Arts of the Institute “Nicolae Grigorescu” in Bucharest.
Vasile Kazar brings to his work one of the most authentic testimony about a dramatic destiny assumed lucidly. From the late 1940s until 1958 he tried to conform to the aesthetic and ideological precepts of Socialist Realism, but in the early 1960s he reverted to the expressionism that had characterized his work of 1945-7, producing drawings that displayed a dreamlike touch in their scratchy line and biomorph imagery. He developed this style in the 1970s and 1980s in such series of drawings as Apparitions at the Old Court and From my Bestiary. He subsequently evolved a very subtle use of color, which became much harsher.
He leaved behind a valuable work that includes cycles of illustrations, such as those for “Duin elegies. Sonnets to Orpheus” by Reiner Maria Rilke, “The Old Court Kings” by Mateiu Caragiale or for the poems of Catullus, hundreds of drawings which are the pride of private galleries and collections around the world. In 1992 Kazar donated 103 drawings, 7 prints and 6 sketchbooks to the Museum of Art in Bucharest. He left by legacy a small museum in a house of the eighteenth century, with antiques and textiles, in Vadu Izei, Maramureş, which became today a Memorial Museum.