Iosif Iser (May 21, 1881, Bucharest — April 25, 1958, Bucharest) was a great Romanian painter and graphic artist.
He studied painting in Munich under Anton Azbe and Johann Herterich. After a period in Romania (1905-1907) he went to Paris, where he studied at the Académie Ranson and mixed with the avant-garde of Montmartre, including Brâncuşi and Derain. Returning to Bucharest in 1909, he organized the first exhibition of modern art at the Athenée Palace.
During World War I he fought on the Moldavian front, but he continued to paint, including military personnel. His work in this period was influenced by that of Cézanne; it was geometric in spirit, but figurative, and it concentrated on representations of the exotic physiognomies and the spectacular landscape of the Tartars of Balcic, a small port on the Black Sea. The best-known of these is the Tartar Family (1921; Bucharest, N. Mus. A.), which in its stylized volumes shows the influence of Cubism.
He has participated in 1926 at the Berlin Secession exhibition, and the '30s is present in many personal and group exhibitions in Paris, Bucharest, Brussels, The Hague and Amsterdam, the most remarkable event being the retrospective in Bucharest in 1936, when he exposed 431 works. Iser is one of the founders of the artistic group "Art", together with George Petraşcu and Ştefan Popescu, all awarded with the Grand Prize at the International Exhibition of Paris in 1937.
Iser's work was also influenced by literature and by the performing arts. He specialized in re-creating the environments of ballerinas and harlequins (e.g. Harlequin and Dancer, 1929; Bucharest, N. Mus. A.). He lived again in Paris from 1921 to 1934, and after his return to Romania he remained faithful to his established themes. After the WWII, the artist was present at several group and personal exhibitions in New York (1948), Moscow and St. Petersburg (1956), Vienna (1957), Venice Biennale (1954). In 1955, he was elected a full member of the Romanian Academy.