Aesthetic Leadership and Organizational Symbolism Experienced at the Paintbrush Factory in Cluj-Napoca, Romania


  • Ileana Nicoleta Sălcudean



organizational symbolism, organizational aesthetics, the Paintbrush Factory, aesthetic leadership


The study of organizational symbolism in the 1980s brought into discussion aspects referring to the image, the sentiments, and the representative values of an organization, pointing to an aesthetic sensibility that can generate meaning. This paper is part of a larger endeavor that examines the latest developments of the methodological models pertaining to organizational aesthetics. Starting from the categories of research in the field of organizational aesthetics proposed by Taylor and Hansen in 2005, I attempt to analyze an art space phenomenon, the Paintbrush Factory in Cluj-Napoca, Romania (2009–22). I focused on aspects of aesthetic leadership and the day-to-day experience of those involved in Paintbrush Factory, especially at the peak of its existence (2009–13), with the aim of finding an appropriate methodological model for research such a complex enterprise as well as to discover lessons that can be learned in terms of its impact and legacy.

The Paintbrush Factory brought a memory of the past to light (through the conversion of a communist space), acquiring an exemplary role in contemporary art (through the type of network developed by this spontaneous, contextual space). The presence of individuals (involved in the management of this art space, artists, or participants in events) was observed in light of the “intelligence of the feeling” and of various symbolic effects. Thus, the Paintbrush Factory is an example of the transformations undergone by an industrial space, which became a creative model of cultural management, a cultural brand with a unique mode of organization: a federation.

Author Biography

Ileana Nicoleta Sălcudean

Faculty of Theater and Film, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca

Ileana Nicoleta Sălcudean, PhD Habil., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cinematography and Media at the the Babeș-Bolyai University, Faculty of Theatre and Film. As of 2012, she holds a PhD in Sociology, with a thesis on “Cultural Policies and Identity Constructs in the European Context” (Babeș-Bolyai University). She has professional experience in teaching, creative management and e-Learning. Her fields of interest include: Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture, Creative Industries. Books published: “Social” and “Cultural” in the European Context, 2013; A Textbook of Creative Writing, co-author, 2014, Creative Industries: Film, Video, Photography (2015), Cultural Policies: Between Bucharest and Brussels (2016).


Alvesson, Matts and Per-Olof Berg. Corporate Culture and Organizational Symbolism. Germany: Walter de Gruyter, 1992. DOI:

Antal, Ariane Berthoin and Anke Strass. “Narrating bridges between unusual experiences with art and organizational identity.” Scandinavian Journal of Management 30, 1 (2014): 114–23. doi: 10.1016/j.scaman.2013.11.001 DOI:

Antal, Ariane Berthoin. “Art-based research for engaging not-knowing in organizations.” In Art as a Research: Opportunities and Challenges, edited by Shaun Mcniff, 171–80. UK/ Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. DOI:

Brown, Andrew D. “A narrative approach to collective identities.” Journal of Management Studies 43, 4 (2006): 731–53. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2006.00609.x DOI:

Carr, Adrian and Hancock, Philip, eds. Work and Organization: The Aesthetic Dimension, Ideas in Critical Postmodernism. USA: ISCE Publishing, 2009.

Castoriadis, Cornelius. The Imaginary Institution of Society. USA: MIT Press,1987.

Coupland, Christine and Andrew D. Brown. “Constructing organizational identities on the Web: A case study of Royal Dutch Shell.” Journal of Management Studies 41, 8 (2008): 1323–47. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2004.00477.x DOI:

De Monthoux, Pierre Guillet. The Art Firm: Aesthetic Management and Metaphysical Marketing. USA: Stanford University Press, 2004.

“Give me the Future,” social campaigns. Accessed on July 18, 2022.

Gosling, Jonathan and Marturano, Antonio, eds. Leadership, the Key Concepts, London: Routledge, 2008.

“Here are the Twelve Cities that will Shake Up the Art World in the 21st Century” (based on the book Art Cities of the Future), December 6, 2017. Accessed on July 18, 2022.

Iacob, Andrea. “Ceci n est pas une Fabrique de Pinceaux.” Alternatives théâtrales 106–7 (2011): 30–31. Accessed on July 18, 2022.

Maertens, Marie. “The School of Cluj/ L’ecole de Cluj.” Art Press 365 (March 2010): 58–64. Accessed on July 18, 2022.

Mureșan, Ciprian. “Fabrica de pensule: Fotografie la minut. Diapozitive dintr-un an de excelență.” IDEA magazine 36–37 (2011): 51–69.

Neal, Jane. “The Two Art Centers of Romania: Cluj and Bucharest.” Res Magazine 5 (March 2010): 52–69.

Strati, Antonio. Organization and Aesthetics, London: Sage, 1999. DOI:

Szakáts, István and Rarița Zbranca. “Fabrica de Pensule. Space for Arts, Community of Trust.” Kulturfuhrer Mitteleuropa (2013): 10–15.

Taylor, Steven S. “What is Organizational Aesthetics.” Organizational Aesthetics 2, 1 (2013): 30–32.

Taylor, Steven S. and Hans Hansen. “Finding Form: Looking at the Field of Organizational Aesthetics.” Journal of Management Studies 42, 6 (2005): 1211–31. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2005.00539.x DOI:

Turner, Barry. “The Symbolic Understanding of Organizations.” In Rethinking Organization: New Directions in Organization Theory and Analysis, edited by Michael Reed and Michael Hughes, 46–67. London: Sage, 1991.

Turner, Zeke. “Art Matters. A Medieval Romanian City with Major Art Talent.” T-Magazine – The New-York Times Style Magazine, 2013. Accessed on July 18, 2022.

Veer, Luminița Klara. “Fabrica de Pensule.” Arhitectura 86 (July/August 2010): 96–103.

Warren, Samantha. “Empirical Challenges in Organizational Aesthetics Research: Towards a Sensual Methodology.” Organizational Studies 29, 4 (2008): 559–80. doi: 10.1177/0170840607083104 DOI:




How to Cite

Sălcudean, I. N. (2022). Aesthetic Leadership and Organizational Symbolism Experienced at the Paintbrush Factory in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (28), 165–177.