Art Deco Style Greek God Bass-Reliefs: Photomontage & Slide Show

Art Deco style Greek gods bas-reliefs (1939), Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

One of the most imposing edifices on the Damboviata river embankment in Bucharest is the 1939 “CEC Pensions House” designed by the architect Nicolae Cucu in a strikingly robust classicised Art Deco style (often erroneously identified in architectural reviews published in Romania as “monumental neoclassical”), a hallmark of that period imbued by the totalitarian design fashions emanating from Mussolini’s Italy that heavily influenced the Romanian architecture in the second part of the 1930s. The most remarkable element of this building is the bas-relief frieze depicting Greek gods, placed well above the street level, a fact which unfortunately makes it difficult to notice and study for the passers by. In order to convey the beauty and harmonious proportions of those bass-reliefs, I photographed and arranged them in the above photomontage and in the slide show bellow. The Art Deco style rendering of these mythological figures from the Greeko-Roman pantheon is in my opinion just breathtaking. I like their androgyne features, typical of the god depictions in the Greek classical art. Also interesting is their arrangement within the frieze with the two goddesses Demetra and Pallas facing the two gods Apollo and Mercur as metaphor for harmony and balance, a necessary feature for a Pensions House company hosted initially within this building. One can see the high talent of the architect Nicolae Cucu in the design of these wonderful medallions and of the building itself. Cucu’s capabilities were again usefully employed years later, when another totalitarian regime took over in Romania after the war, in the design of the Communist Heroes’ Mausoleum in Bucharest, perhaps the architecturally most beautiful monumental structure built during the communist era in Romania.

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I endeavor through this daily series of daily articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.


If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

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