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The Nancy G. Brinker Collection

Works of Passion, Interludes, and Progress

Hungarian Artists

The Nancy G. Brinker Collection Works of Passion, Interludes, and Progress Hungarian Artists

Hungarian Artists

The Nancy G. Brinker Collection

Works of Passion, Interludes, and Progress

Hungarian Artists

Edited by Éva Forgács

Cover:

László Fehér, Self-Portrait with Staircase (2001)

Inquiries:

www.nancybrinker.org

© 2007

Consulting Editors:

The Nancy G. Brinker Collection

Ann Hofstra Grogg Robert Grogg

Graphic Design:

Beveridge Seay, Inc.

Offset Lithography:

Pretzelman Printing Group Fairfax, Virginia

Paper:

Sappi McCoy Premium Gloss This book is printed on acid-free paper.

For the convenience of an American audience, Hungarian names are presented with surname last. Diacriticals have been preserved.

Contents

vi

Preface

7

Selections from the Nancy G. Brinker Collection

42

László Moholy-Nagy

viii

Dedication and

44

Lajos Vajda

Acknowledgments

8

Mihály Munkácsy

 

46

Dezső Korniss

ix

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

10

Pál Szinyei Merse

 

50

Endre Bálint

1

The Nancy G. Brinker Collection

12

János Vaszary

52

Lili Ország

 

14

Béla Kádár

2

Éva Forgács

56

László Lakner

 

16

Béla Czóbel

3

Steven Mansbach

58

István Nádler

 

18

Béla Uitz

4

István Rozsics

62

Károly Kelemen

 

20

Róbert Berény

5

Michael Ennis

64

László Fehér

 

24

Imre Szobotka

 

73

Artists Biographies

 

26

József Nemes-Lampérth

 

89

Contributors

 

30

Jenő Gábor

32

István Szőnyi

34

Vilmos Aba-Novák

38

André Kertész

Preface

My passion for Hungarian art began at a tumultuous time — a few days after September 11, 2001, when I arrived in Budapest to serve our country as the United States Ambassador.

The shipping delays in the wake of the September 11th attack made the spectacular collection of twentieth- century American women artists, curated for me by the U.S. Department of State Art in Embassies Program, slow to arrive from America. In the meantime, I asked my friend, historian, and art consultant István Rozsics, if some contemporary artists in Budapest would like to display their art in the American Residence.

Soon works by László Fehér, István Nádler, Károly Klimó, Imre Bak,

Tamás Soós, and Attila Szucs, among others, were giving me constant comfort. As I saw their paintings day by day, I grew to appreciate the richness and power of these works, and their historic and emotional qualities. I fervently wanted to know more about them and became passionately interested in learning about Hungarian art generally. In addition, the excellence of the Art in Embassies Program inspired me to want to carry on the tradition of

˝

cultural exchange as a way to personalize a connection with another country. With the help of István and the expert auction house owners to whom he introduced me, I began my adventure of building my own collection of modern Hungarian art.

Despite Hungary’s stormy twentieth- century history, its artistic tradition has remained strong and consistent, even experiencing revivals. Most of the early Hungarian modernists studied and exhibited in France and Germany, some in the United States, and some in Italy and Austria. Few had access to international markets, however, and few gained the recognition they deserved for their contribution, which was more valu- able than generally acknowledged.

My explorations were rewarded by an artistic tradition that is both familiar and surprising, highly ener- getic but not without melancholy, an intriguing mix of well-known idioms and idiosyncratic expression. The modern artists of Hungary often depict strong structures with strong color but reveal, too, a poetic

sensibility and often a sense of humor and complexity that are the unmistakable hallmarks of Central European art. Spanning the period from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the present, my collection reflects Hungary’s tumultuous past, highlighting historic and, in some cases, dire epochs. One of my favorite works is János Vaszary’s 1905 portrait of Countess Ilona Batthyány, a Hungarian woman, born into the aristocracy, who supported and celebrated the arts. Vilmos Aba-Novák’s watercolor of the New York skyline in 1935 is the mirror image of my own journey, as it shows America as seen through the eyes of a Hungarian artist. Also among my favorite artists are the true early modernists of Hungary, including Róbert Berény, Sándor Bortnyik, Béla Czóbel, Farkas Molnár, József Nemes-Lampérth, Lajos Tihanyi, and Béla Uitz, and I have a fondness for the representa- tives of the Szentendre group, active since the 1930s and named after the village of their residence. These include Lajos Vajda, Endre Bálint, and the latter’s close friend Lili Ország. Vajda died at the time of the Holocaust, and although both Bálint and Ország survived it, their art was heavily marked by that experience. I am particularly proud of having

such an artistically and historically significant work as László Moholy-Nagy’s early Self-Portrait (1919), which occupies a place in the international history of modernism that many other Hungarian artists deserve.

I have come a long way since my first explorations. I am fortunate to have had Richard Merkin’s encouragement and support throughout this odyssey. His help has enhanced my collection, enabling it to achieve both a richness and a depth that I could not have imagined. Although the Nancy G. Brinker Collection is still a work-in-progress, I am eager to share my excitement about these works and to give visibility to modern Hungarian art, which deserves so much more study and appreciation.

Nancy G. Brinker

so much more study and appreciation. Nancy G. Brinker I grew to appreciate the richness and

I grew to appreciate the richness and power of these works and their historic and emotional qualities. I fervently wanted to know more about them and became passionately interested in learning about Hungarian art generally.

Dedication

To my sister Susan G. Komen, and to our parents Ellie and Marvin Goodman, who challenged us to repair the world. To my colleagues from Susan G. Komen for the Cure who are meeting this challenge.

Nancy G. Brinker

Acknowledgments

Any project of this size and complexity that includes a published catalogue and a traveling exhibition could not have been completed without the assistance of a great many people. I am grateful to all of you.

Very generous financial support was provided by General Mills, Charles Schwab, and Yoplait

Nancy G. Brinker

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Susan G. Komen for the Cure is honored to

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is honored to be a part of Hungarian Artists: Works of Passion, Interludes, and Progress from the collection of our founder, Nancy G. Brinker. We deeply appreciate your support of the exhibition and our work in communities across the globe.

In 2007, Susan G. Komen for the Cure will mark twenty-five years in the fight against breast cancer. What started as a promise between Nancy and her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, to end breast cancer has become a global movement gaining momentum each passing year as more and more caring individuals join in our promise.

The more than 100,000 breast cancer survivors and activists are the face and voice behind our vision of a world without breast cancer touching more than 18,000 U.S. communities and many foreign countries. Our Komen Race for the Cure ® Series is now the largest series of five-kilometer runs/fitness walks in the world with more than 1 million participants each year.

We have made it possible for everyone to talk about breast cancer —the treatments, the social impacts, the solutions—on our website, via our toll-free Helpline, at doctor’s offices, on Capitol Hill, in political summits, and among families. We have worked tirelessly so that every major scientific advance to date in the fight against breast cancer has been touched in some way by a Komen grant.

In twenty-five short years, we have achieved what was once thought unachievable: we have begun to change the world. But our work is not finished. There are still women without access to screening and care. And there are still people dying from the disease.

On this, our twenty-fifth anniversary, we ask you to join us as we move forward with a renewed passion and energy to achieve our original promise— to end breast cancer forever.

as we move forward with a renewed passion and energy to achieve our original promise— to

The Nancy G. Brinker Collection represents a rich survey of the achievements of the Hungarian culture and presents to a world audience our shared aesthetic heritage. The span of styles, the range of references, and the variety of media in the Nancy G. Brinker Collection attest to the expansiveness of Hungarian art, both of the classical avant-garde era and of contemporary times.

In this stimulating assembly of great paintings and small masterpieces, the Nancy G. Brinker Collection affords a new vision of an art and a history that belongs as much to us as it does to Hungary.

Éva Forgács Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Hungarian artists embraced the progressive idioms of

Éva Forgács

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Hungarian artists embraced the progressive idioms of Western art, yet they never failed to let their own history and culture inform their work. The various currents of modernism received new emphases as they entered Hungarian culture. The painters who espoused these ideas represented an outlook that was new: that of the independent, autonomous artist who is a world citizen and speaks the international language of the fine arts as the lingua franca of enlightened thinking and vision. The Nancy G. Brinker Collection focuses on such treasures of Hungarian art, and, quite uniquely among other Hungarian collections, includes contemporary art in Hungary as well.

Indebted to a long lineage of high-quality artistic accomplishments that are well documented in the present show, contemporary art in Hungary displays tart wit as well as playfulness, craftiness, and conceptualism. Nancy G. Brinker, who was Ambassador of the United States in Hungary, functions now as Hungary’s cultural ambassador to the United States. She and her collection, which she

is developing and exhibiting, invite

the American public to explore

Hungarian painting, and through it,

a particular segment of Central European life and history.

The work of the living painters in present-day Hungary is the most eloquent proof of the energy and singularity of Hungarian art.

Steven Mansbach Hungarian artists of the twentieth century developed the styles and defined the content

Steven Mansbach

Hungarian artists of the twentieth century developed the styles and defined the content of modernity from Budapest to Berlin, Kecskemét to Chicago. Legions of Hungarian painters, designers, sculptors, and architects brought the innovative— and often revolutionary—aesthetics they had first articulated in their native land.

The Nancy G. Brinker Collection extends and complements the acknowledged masters of Hungarian modernism—Róbert Berény, Béla Uitz, Sándor Bortnyik—while it introduces us to original artists of more modest reputation. The collection demonstrates the dynamic qualities and variability of modern art itself, while reflecting the creative curiosity, open-minded nature, and discriminating taste of Ambassador Brinker.

With this collection, Nancy G. Brinker has embarked on a process of self-discovery and selfless cultural advocacy. The artwork embodies the collector’s uncurbed excitement about the vital culture of modern Hungary and its future, just as it reflects an understanding of that nation’s complex and often contradic- tory past. Indeed, it is this very history—one of accomplishment, openness, innovation, and years of constraint and tribulation—that makes Hungary’s art compelling for both a native and a world audience.

István Rozsics It all began on September 11, 2001, the very day that newly confirmed

István Rozsics

It all began on September 11, 2001,

the very day that newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, Nancy G. Brinker, had planned to leave for her post in Budapest. Though she was soon able to take up her post, security concerns delayed all kinds of shipping, including the paintings supplied for the Ambassador’s Residence by the U.S. Department of State Art in Embassies Program. The walls of the ambassador’s residence, a historic site in the hilly part of Budapest, remained bare. Ambassador Brinker had the idea that perhaps works by Hungarian artists should be showcased on these walls.

Many people, both Hungarians and Americans, shrugged their shoulders, saying that the task was complicated, they did not have enough time, how could one produce a museum-quality collection of contemporary Hungarian art in just a few days, and then hang the paintings, too. Fortunately, “No, this is not possible” is not in Ambassador Brinker’s vocabulary.

Despite my knowledge and experience, I have never had such a challenging task. Ambassador Brinker wanted to know everything. She asked questions about the Trianon Treaty, about the Nagybánya Artists’ Colony, and Hungarian post- impressionism. She wanted to know about Károly Ferenczy and why his paintings were so scarce. She asked for the stories of his fantastic twins, Naomi, the tapestry maker, and Benjamin, the sculptor. Her questions were profound, embarrassing, and logical. She was not afraid to ask them. Over long phone calls, feverish internet communications, and investigations of auction records, she uncovered the secrets of the art world. A new world was opening up, for me as well.

This tour of the collection throughout the United States and later in Europe is the satisfying and heartwarming result of years of animated work.

Her positive approach came at

a crucial time. She offered, in

Sir Winston Churchill’s words, only “blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” but she got everyone working together to create this collection to honor the vision of artists and the culture from which they had sprung. People fell in love with Ambassador Brinker and with what she was trying to do, especially the painters.

Michael Ennis When I met Ambassador Brinker in the Fall of 2003, I was asked

Michael Ennis

When I met Ambassador Brinker in the Fall of 2003, I was asked to

assist in the organization of a small exhibition from her collection for a museum near her home in Florida.

I knew very little about Hungary

and less still of Hungarian art. I was immediately struck by quality and

range of the collection but also by her depth of knowledge of each work. Like a proud mother, she would tell the history not just of the painting, but the artist and the period and what was happening in Hungary at the time.

From this beginning, I have had the privilege to see Ambassador Brinker’s enthusiasm spread to each city we

bring the exhibition. I have witnessed cancer survivors wait for hours to attend an opening with the hope of meeting Nancy Brinker in person.

I have listened while a woman told

me her story of survival as she escaped Budapest and the emotional homecoming this collection inspired in her. Most Hungarians living in

the United States have no access to museums or galleries exhibiting Hungarian art. Hearing their stories, seeing their faces as they recount all they have had to endure and

witnessing their strong will to survive had helped me to begin to understand truly appreciate Hungary and its people, and its art.

The Nancy G. Brinker Collection is

one of the largest private collections of Hungarian art. It spans over 140 years of Hungarian history, and tells

a story like no other collection in the world. With each painting, sculpture and photograph we can see the humanity of a country through the eyes of a remarkable woman, herself

a survivor, who has been deeply

touched by her service there.

Selections from the Nancy G. Brinker Collection

Mihály Munkácsy

1844‒1900

Mihály Munkácsy was largely self-taught. In 1865, with help from several patrons, he went to study in

of 1871 and stayed there for the rest of his life. In 1874 he married the widow of the baron de Marches.

history. The white of the boy’s shirt contrasts sharply with the deep black of the twilight landscape, suggesting

Today Munkácsy’s work can be found

Vienna and later in Munich where— in contrast to the dominant traditions of history painting—he produced peasant genres. In 1867, he traveled to Paris, where he was strongly impressed by the work of Gustave Courbet and the plein-air paintings of the Barbizon School. Between 1868 and 1871, while continuing his

After 1875 Munkácsy turned to landscapes, in which the influence of the Barbizon painters is evident. From 1881 on he painted dramatic religious and historical subjects in a highly dramatic style. He was also highly successful with his paintings representing the life of the rich

the tradition of the Dutch masters as well as Courbet’s genre paintings and the intense blacks of Édouard Manet’s work.

in museums in Vienna, Philadelphia, and Chicago, as well as in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

studies in Düsseldorf, he completed his first large-scale genre painting,

in Paris.

Agnes Berecz

The Convict (1869), which won the Gold Medal of the Paris Salon in 1870. Encouraged by the unexpected success, he moved to Paris in the fall

Tin Drum (1872), formerly in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, draws on Munkácsy’s own childhood memories and experiences of village life. The barefoot young boy with his drum and drumsticks evokes, regardless of country or nation, the child heroes of national liberation movements throughout European

Éva Forgács

Mihály Munkácsy Tin Drum 1872 Oil on panel 9

Mihály Munkácsy

Tin Drum

1872

Oil on panel

Pál Szinyei Merse White Magnolia 1866 Oil on canvas 10

Pál Szinyei Merse White Magnolia

1866

Oil on canvas

Pál Szinyei Merse

1845‒1920

A contemporary of the French impressionists, Pál Szinyei Merse introduced Hungary to painting outdoors and using natural light. His subject matter centered on casual activities, for example, an alfresco picnic. Like his French peers, he was lambasted for challenging academic traditions of sophisticated composition and lighting. Unlike the French impressionists, however, Szinyei was a lone figure without support,without colleagues as he experimented with new approaches. The authoritarian Hungarian Academy’s rejection of his work altered his career. He was expected to pursue the somber tradition of dark-toned, heavy, tragic historic painting in which the careful arrangement of figures and dramatic lighting told the stories of the past and of his nation.

Instead, Szinyei enjoyed painting for what he understood it was: the celebration of the pleasures of life, and the beauty of nature with its colors and shapes. He did not represent figures in an artificially constructed and calculated environment but in plein air —that is, outdoors, on the lawn or under the trees, in sunshine or filtered light, eschewing manipulation and drama. Not only did he avoid historic subjects and the pomposity often attached to their representation, but he painted what was held in utter contempt by the Academy as the idlest kind of painting: still lifes.

This still life—which appears more like the fragment of a still life—is exceptional even in Szinyei’s work. There is no narrative whatsoever, nothing literary, only the purely visual: a simple composition, strong draftsmanship, vivacious color, and intimate light. Some art historians have compared Szinyei’s paintings from this period to similar work by the young Édouard Manet or to Gustave Courbet’s work. White Magnolia exhibits evocative textures, lights, and a sense of freshness that are found in Manet’s work.

Éva Forgács

Szinyei’s White Magnolia (1866) is an eloquent credo of the painter who does not need big topics to create a compelling picture. He painted it during a short stay in Hungary while he was studying in Munich, where all his fellow Hungarian students—his contemporaries—were working on monumental historical compositions.

János Vaszary

1867‒1939

At a time when the art of painting was held in increasingly high esteem, János Vaszary may well have been the most popular painter ever in Hungary. He was recognized by critics, collectors, and academics and loved by an enthusiastic public. The

lasting memories. His most mature paintings evoke the simple eloquence of Raoul Dufy and reveal some influences from Japanese art. There is richness in his paintings; an abundance of color, beauty, and

Countess Batthyány was one of the earliest philanthropists in Hungary. She was a generous sponsor of several charitable organizations sup- porting women and underprivileged children. Besides being a wealthy

light touch of his brush left vivacious colors on the canvas, exuding the joy of life with pure visual pleasure.

Throughout his long career Vaszary spent many years traveling and working abroad. He studied in Budapest, Munich, and Paris. His virtuoso painting was rooted in thorough knowledge of the elements of painting. He began painting outdoors and over the course of his lifetime his career underwent several artistic transformations. He created works that could be classified as art nouveau, impressionist, post- impressionist, and fauve. His signature whimsical images leave

elegance are conveyed by swift, unfailingly compelling brushstrokes.

Portrait of Countess Ilona Batthyány (1905) is an early, buoyantly impres- sionist picture, a rare exception in Vaszary’s work. Its explosive painterly richness notwithstanding, it goes beyond the purely visual. The model’s personal life story is symbolic of the complexity of Hungarian history. She was the daughter of Gyula Andrássy, prime minister of Hungary after the 1867 Compromise with the Habsburgs. She married Count Lajos Batthyány, the grandson of Hungary’s very first prime minister, who had been executed by the Habsburgs in 1849 for his role in supporting the

socialite, she was also an art lover and an eminent public figure.

Vaszary’s portrait depicts the countess as a private, pensive person, intimately capturing her seated figure, yet conveying her forceful character through the striking directness of her gaze. The diagonal of her dark, clothed figure connects the bright and the dark sides of the painting, pulling the viewer’s gaze from colorful radiance of the light to the increasing shadows and darkness behind her, offering the viewer an emotional and aesthetic balance.

Agnes Berecz

move for Hungarian independence from Austria and the Habsburgs.

Éva Forgács

János Vaszary Portrait of Countess Ilona Batthyány 1905 Oil on canvas 13

János Vaszary Portrait of Countess Ilona Batthyány

1905

Oil on canvas

Béla Kádár Ladies in Front of Green Background 1930s Gouache on paper 14

Béla Kádár Ladies in Front of Green Background

1930s

Gouache on paper

Béla Kádár

1877‒1956

Béla Kádár’s work is in the process of being reassessed in Hungary. This versatile and prolific painter who frequently changed styles has been identified primarily with his art deco period in the 1930s and 1940s. Along with Hugó Scheiber and Armand Schönberger, he is seen as the most important Hungarian representative of the movement.

But Kádár also had realist, art nouveau, and symbolist periods, and in the 1920s he was a radical modernist. He was brought to the attention of Herwarth Walden, Berlin’s leading champion of modern art, by no less an authority than Lajos Kassák, the leader of the Hungarian avant-garde. For a short period of time Kádár lived in Berlin, the art capital of interwar Europe. During this time he had both a solo show in Walden’s Der Sturm Gallery, the main venue of international modernist and avant-garde art, and he received invitations to participate in a number

of group exhibitions. Kádár gained international recognition in these years and was selected, among other interested galleries and collectors, by the Société Anonyme, whose organizers purchased paintings from him. He participated in the Société’s 1926 Brooklyn show and got exposure to an American audience as well.

Kádár painted pictures reminiscent of Marc Chagall during the early 1920s. While these romanticized life —Jewish and otherwise—in the Hungarian countryside, he found his real voice when he adopted art deco in the early 1930s. This style and the urban subject matters he chose to depict resonated well with Kádár’s most faithful audience— the urban, moderately modernist, educated upper middle classes. Kádár has always been noted for the skill, fluency, and charm in his work. Although stylized, his work was always accessible and enjoyed by an audience in Hungary as well as abroad.

Kádár’s representation of women is mostly imbued by fantasies suggestive of the female figures’ erotic involvement with one another. Ladies in Front of Green Background (1930s) is thoroughly informed by cubism but uses the undulating, easygoing, erotic lines of art deco. It features exotic women pressed closely together and covered by thin veils only. The flatness of the painting gives added emphasis to the curving lines of the bodies and the deliberately reductive representation of the faces. Kádár posits the women not so much in reality as in erotic fantasy, which was highly appreciated by his audience.

Éva Forgács

Béla Czóbel

1883‒1976

Throughout his long life, Béla Czóbel had an exceptional standing among Hungarian artists. He was a living classic, a French and Hungarian painter at the same time.

In the early 1900s Czóbel studied in Munich, later at the Nagybánya (Baia Mare, Romania) Artists’ Colony, and in Paris. Nagybánya was the workshop and artistic center for the Hungarian impressionists (the plein-air painters) and the generation known as neo-impressionists. One of the first painters to explore the highly expressive and aesthetic value of color, Czóbel was a leading post- impressionist, returning from Paris to Nagybánya in 1906 as a full-fledged fauve painter who had exhibited with Henri Matisse, André Derain, and Maurice de Vlaminck at the 1905 Salon d’Automne.

Czóbel had his first one-man show in Paris in 1907 and continued to have a strong presence in both the Paris and the Budapest art scene. In 1909 he joined Károly Kernstok, Róbert Berény, Dezső Czigány, Ödön Márffy,

Dezső Orbán, Bertalan Pór, and Lajos Tihanyi in founding The Seekers, the first modernist group in Hungary, renamed The Eight in 1911.

During World War I, Czóbel lived and worked in the Netherlands, and exhibited in Amsterdam. While in Berlin in the early 1920s he became acquainted with the German expressionists and clearly saw the close resemblance between their work and the short-lived French fauvism. From 1925 he lived both in Paris and Budapest. Until 1940 he spent his summer vacations in the baroque castle of his friend Baron Ferenc Hatvany, an artist and collector of international standing. Czóbel chose Szentendre as his second home when away from Paris.

Czóbel was a figurative painter but never a realist. He used soft, deep black contours and intense colors, transforming his landscapes, portraits, nudes, and still lifes into stylized renditions of an inner condition. He wavered between expressionism and a reticent, poetic post-impressionism. The figurative motifs of his paintings function as a screen with a multitude of emotional and unconscious elements behind them.

Reclining Girl (1930) is a simplified rendering of a nude evoking, through the figure’s childlike body and almost apparent unawareness, not only the early expressionists but even the primitivists. The framed painting in the background is a more sophisticated reference connecting the joy of art to the joy of life. Czóbel pairs a warm red on the right and a dense blue on the left, positioning the fragile female body as a bridge between the sensual and the intellectual spheres. Through this shimmering presence, he achieves balance and serenity.

Czóbel has become the iconic figure of idiosyncratic and moderate modernism in Hungary. He absorbed expressionism, fauvism, and even cubism but applied them on his own terms, focusing on the inner vision emanating from the figures and objects in his paintings.

Éva Forgács

Béla Czóbel Reclining Girl 1930 Oil on canvas 17

Béla Czóbel

Reclining Girl

1930

Oil on canvas

Béla Uitz Sitting Woman 1918 Walnut stain, India ink on paper 18

Béla Uitz

Sitting Woman

1918

Walnut stain, India ink on paper

Béla Uitz

1887‒1972

Béla Uitz was a key figure in the first generation of the Hungarian avant-garde. Having studied at the Hungarian Academy of Decorative Arts, he transferred to the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1908. His friend the painter József Nemes- Lampérth’s energetic, free, almost gesturelike drawings had a decisive impact on Uitz’s work. Uitz joined the militant avant-garde circle of Lajos Kassák, which was informed by the Berlin-based socialist-anarchist forum Die Aktion. He married one of Kassák’s sisters in 1912, and the frequent artistic and political debates that he had had with his friend now continued with his brother-in-law:

Uitz was more the militant communist, while Kassák was more the moderate social democrat.

During the 1919 Hungarian Commune, Uitz was committed to the idea of social equality. As director of a proletarian art school he took an active part in making art accessible to all. The children in his school visited museums, attended the opera, and went on vacations, all for free. Thus Uitz and the members of the Commune realized the idea of a new and just society. Besides his

teaching, Uitz also designed murals and posters for the Commune, so after the Commune’s defeat in August 1919 he had no choice but to leave the country. He stayed close to Kassák during their exile in Vienna, but traveled to Moscow in 1921 to participate in the Comintern’s Third Congress, that is, the international organization of communist parties. Returning from Moscow, he visited Berlin, bringing firsthand information about the new Russian constructivism to the international community of artists in Berlin.

Because of political differences with Kassák, who was more of a moderate social democrat that a communist, Uitz quit the Ma (Today Circle) in 1922 and launched the communist journal Egység (Unity) in Vienna as co-editor with the poet Aladár Komját. After a two-year stay in Paris, Uitz moved to Moscow in 1926, where he lived until his return to Hungary in 1970.

Uitz was a radical artist who considered it his moral duty to give voice to the suffering and the oppressed. During World War I he represented the pain and tragedy of the soldiers and their families with pathos and compassion. The strong emotional charge of his works was expressed, however,

in equally strong structures: Uitz systematically pursued the synthesis of rational, constructive order, and intense feeling.

Sitting Woman (1918) is a strong- contoured, well-constructed, powerful work of Uitz’s activist period as well as an important document of the Hungarian avant-garde. Although it is ink on paper, it is—typically for Uitz— a monumental composition. In its dark-and-light contrasts and dynamic, curved shapes, revolutionary fervor blends with Renaissance dignity, turning the mundane figure into a colossal, symbolic woman, a working- class Madonna.

Uitz’s significance was not lost on his contemporaries. Many of his works were instantly purchased by collectors, and in 1915 he won the Gold Medal at the International Exhibition in San Francisco. Progressive critics celebrated his powerful visions in which, as Iván Hevesy said, “The small and poor seamstresses appear as monumental as the goddesses painted by oriental or medieval masters.”

Éva Forgács

Róbert Berény

1887‒1953

The most Cézannesque among the young Hungarian modernists of the 1910s, Róbert Berény sought structure and solidity in his early paintings. He carefully constructed his pictures and developed his tectonic style early in his career, but used color in a surprising, striking manner that some of his critics call “magic.”

Berény was only nineteen years old when he attracted attention in Paris as an emerging artist. He participated in important exhibitions and attended Gertrude Stein’s Saturday night parties, where he met Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. In 1908 Maurice Denis praised Berény for his excellent draftsmanship in La Grande Revue. Berény was apparently close to the fauves and attended Matisse’s school, 1907–08.

While in Paris, Berény was also in touch with fellow Hungarian painters, some of whom also joined the group known as The Seekers in

Budapest, 1909. Berény was the most experimental painter of the group, using audacious color and paying particular attention to the spatial structure of painting. He was noted for an element of logic, self- irony, and intellectual construction in his works. Indeed, he was educated in philosophy and psychoanalysis and was a trained musician and composer as well as an artist.

Like many Hungarian artists Berény had to leave the country after the fall of the 1919 Commune in Hungary,

Róbert Berény Still Life with Blue Pitcher 1911 Oil on canvas laid down on cardboard

Róbert Berény Still Life with Blue Pitcher

1911

Oil on canvas laid down on cardboard

Róbert Berény Still Life in Studio with Pitcher and Fruits 1920s Oil on cardboard 22

Róbert Berény Still Life in Studio with Pitcher and Fruits

1920s

Oil on cardboard

Róbert Berény

during which he had designed the most effective political poster for recruiting soldiers into the Commune’s Red Army.

Still Life with Blue Pitcher (1911) is a strong composition. There is order and clarity in the triangular arrangement of the circular fruit bowl, the rounded apples, the erect teapot, and the drapery. The triangular shape is highlighted by the sharp diagonal of the shadow. The remarkably flattened picture space surpasses Cézanne’s legacy, pointing in the direction of cubism.

Still Life in Studio with Pitcher and Fruits (1920s) reveals Berény’s new interest in clearly defined, even geometric, shapes and composition. In his more decorative use of color it also reflects the impact of advertising design, in which Berény was very successful after 1926. In this painting he also goes further in subverting and reinventing the rules of one-point perspective.

Éva Forgács

Imre Szobotka

1890‒1961

Imre Szobotka is one of the outstanding masters of the Hungarian classic avant-garde. According to many critics he is the only true Hungarian cubist, though he added a distinctive Hungarian element by replacing the earth colors of the French masters with a lively palette.

Upon settling in Paris in 1910, Szobotka worked in an international milieu. He studied at the Académie de la Palette under the direction of Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger. Szobotka was strongly influenced by the other cubists he met, such as Henri Le Fauconnier and Robert Delaunay, as well as the young Russians Nadezhda Udaltzova and Liubov Popova. He achieved recogni- tion not only when he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1913 and 1914 along with the leading cubist painters, but Guillaume Apollinaire also cited him as one of the strongest presences in his review of the Salon in the journal Montjoie.

Szobotka’s dynamic early career was interrupted by World War I. Along with enemy aliens he was interned in Bretagne (Brittany) for four years. He continued to work in isolation but had difficulties getting paint and canvas, so he had to be content with making drawings and sketches.

Back in Hungary in 1919, Szobotka sought to combine the particular Hungarian tradition of post-impres- sionism and cubism he had absorbed in France. He had somewhat softened his cubist vocabulary and developed a more classical visual language. His pictures feature a warm, intimate atmosphere as well as strong structure. He was among the first Hungarian painters to represent metropolitan Budapest in his paintings as an environment as natural as any landscape. He was recognized as one of the best artists both by the art critics and the Budapest artist community. Szobotka regularly exhibited his works and took an active part in shaping the art life of his city when in 1920 he helped organize KÚT (New Society of Artists).

Still Life on Table Top (1913–14) is one of the strongest pictures from

Szobotka’s cubist period. It is lively with warm, full colors. Although

it is fragmented and the objects are

broken down into abstract shapes, Szobotka retains the balance between the geometric elements and the sensual, full-bodied shape of the jug. In his 1925 survey New

Painting in Hungary the art critic Ernst (Ernő) Kállai characterized Hungarian modernism as having

a preference for the idiom he

termed “structured naturalism,” rather than abstraction. Szobotka’s cubist paintings are eloquent proof of this statement, since these compositions, no matter how analytical, always retain a strong sense of figurative rendition.

Éva Forgács

Imre Szobotka Still Life on Table Top 1913–14 Oil on canvas 25

Imre Szobotka Still Life on Table Top

1913–14

Oil on canvas

József Nemes-Lampérth Street on Gellért Hill 1916 Oil on canvas 26

József Nemes-Lampérth

Street on Gellért Hill

1916

Oil on canvas

József Nemes-Lampérth

1891‒1924

József Nemes-Lampérth was one the most original talents of the Hungarian avant-garde, or, according to many critics, the most talented painter. He was an impulsive, anxious person who was often been compared to Vincent van Gogh. Painting for him was a necessity; he had no choice in the matter. In retrospect, his powerful forms, bold colors, and the flashes of white lights and shimmering reds in his paintings foreshadowed his ultimate tragedy.

Nemes-Lampérth lived at a time when being a painter was held in high esteem in the vibrant intellectual life of Budapest. Georg Lukács,

Károly (later Charles de) Tolnay, Leo Popper, Michael Polányi, Arnold Hauser, and other members of the society called the Sunday Circle, a gathering of intellectuals, were proud of the nascent Hungarian modernist art, as they were of the poet Endre Ady and the composer Béla Bartók.

Nemes-Lampérth traveled to Paris in 1913 to see modern painting firsthand. He worked in Paris, painting and learning, until he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army upon the outbreak of World War I. He was discharged in 1915 after being wounded.

Besides visits to the Sunday Circle, Nemes-Lampérth also joined Lajos Kassák’s avant-garde group in 1917.

The director and leading curators of the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts also thought highly of him and purchased many of his paintings.

Nemes-Lampérth had his first episode of self-destruction in 1916. He recovered and continued to work, making 1916 and 1917 among his most prolific years, during which he painted a series of nudes and landscapes in a romantic, poor neighborhood of Budapest, the later-destroyed Tabán. Street on Gellért Hill (1916) is one of the best

József Nemes-Lampérth

pictures of that period, with its strong contours, expressive colors, and a simple, monumental composition.

to Vienna and Berlin, where he lived in poverty but was able to make dramatic ink drawings of stunning

Agnes Berecz

Between his ever more frequent fits of manic depression, Nemes- Lampérth made trips to Kolozsvár (Cluj, Romania) to visit his sister. The ink drawings he made there are among the most striking pieces not only of his oeuvre but also of Hungarian art. The expressive power of the dark tones and the flashes of white and red render these drawings dramatic and even fearful: the painter takes his viewers to the brink of the abyss he is standing on. The ink

intensity. In the fall of 1920 he exhibited in Berlin along with László Moholy-Nagy, Walter Dexel, and others, whereupon a Swedish art collector invited him to his castle near Stockholm so he could work free of financial problems. Nemes-Lampérth had great plans and ambition, but his mental health broke down. He returned to Hungary and remained in a mental hospital until his untimely death in 1924.

drawing Kolozsvár (1920) is one of the glaring examples of his anxiety, which, at this time, Nemes-Lampérth was still able to control.

Éva Forgács

During the 1919 Commune, Nemes-Lampérth was a teacher at the Proletarian Art Studio. Upon the defeat of the Commune, he traveled

József Nemes-Lampérth Kolozsvár 1920 Black and colored India ink on paper 29

József Nemes-Lampérth

Kolozsvár

1920

Black and colored India ink on paper

Jenő Gábor Circus 1929 Oil on canvas 30

Jenő Gábor

Circus

1929

Oil on canvas

Jeno Gábor

1893‒1968

˝

Jenő Gábor was a native of Pécs, in southern Hungary, a cultural center with a great number of artists. Seven artists from Pécs alone enrolled in the Bauhaus in the early 1920s, a record in the history of the school for students from one location.

Gábor began to paint actively in the late 1910s. Following the standards and the ideals of the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, he was, as a young artist, inspired first of all by the great art of classical antiquity and the Renaissance artists such as Luca Signorelli and masters such as Leonardo and Michelangelo. His ideal was classical perfection as demonstrated by the human body and its movements and gestures. He belonged to those Hungarian artists who, particularly throughout the late 1920s and the 1930s, aspired to visualize an imaginary, yet ideal,

world they called Arcadia. The compositions created to this end often feature monumental, static figures in formal poses, as if they have been sculpted. Gábor’s early work, particularly his nudes, shows a great similarity to the paintings of Károly Patkó. The quiet balance and harmony of many of his pictures show the influence of his contemporary István Szőnyi and the society of artists he belonged to, the Gresham Circle.

Circus (1929) coincides with the waning influence of the avant-garde and the emergence of the new objectivity in the mid- and late-1920s. Clowns, harlequins, and pulcinellas were the frequent subject matter of the imaginary world conjured up by many artists in the interwar years in order to escape from a reality that was growing increasingly dark and menacing. The atmosphere—but not the style—of Gábor’s composition evokes the work of earlier painters— those of pre–World War I German

expressionists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Emil Nolde, for whom the world of the circus and side shows is pervaded by anxiety and sinister anticipation.

Gábor’s contemporary parallels in style as well as subject matter were Francis-Marie Picabia and the Alexander Rodchenko of the 1930s, who foreshadowed the authoritative styles of the coming decades.

Gábor’s work is currently being rediscovered in Hungary. His importance as an artist and a teacher, whose students included such great masters of the avant- garde as Tihamér Gyarmathy, is fully acknowledged.

Éva Forgács

István Szonyi

1894‒1960

˝

Szőnyi’s figurative painting appears to fit seamlessly into the Hungarian post-impressionist tradition of landscape painting but in fact his work defies schools, traditions, and easy categorizing. Although he was member of several societies and groups of painters and was unfailingly recognized as one of the greatest artists of his generation, Szőnyi is one of the lone masters of Hungarian painting. His sensitivities differed from those of most of his contemporaries. Although he painted in a realistic style, he was taken by the atmospheric effects, the interplay of light on the landscape and structures, and the metaphysical rather than the strictly precise rendering of the objects. He was constantly fascinated by the beauty of the Danube’s curve, the reflection of the light on the river’s surface, the hazy tones of the sunshine across the clouds. A puddle in the road or the detail of a fence also captured his attention.

In the early 1920s Szőnyi became the leading figure of an informal group of painters including, among others, Vilmos Aba-Novák, Erzsébet Korb, and Károly Patkó. Although they never formulated a program or exhibited together as a group, critics called them the Szőnyi Circle. They painted timeless idyllic compositions of nudes, idealized landscapes, and sculpture-like self-portraits in a generic renaissance and classicist tradition.

Szőnyi, however, moved away from

neo-classicism. His growing interest

in the landscape and the people of

Zebegény, the village where he lived from 1924 on, created a painterly oeuvre pervaded by a harmony achieved in a totally different manner from many of his contemporaries who sought to express their vision in either geometric abstraction or the imaginary realm of an Arcadia. Szőnyi found his answers in the reality of

nature, the simple life of villagers, and the small details of country life. After his early expressive and neo-classicist periods he developed

a meditative painting characterized

by soft hues and spiritual vision conveyed by the motifs of Zebegény that he felt he could never exhaust.

In the 1930s he was, together with Aurél Bernáth, Róbert Berény, Pál Pátzay, and many others, a member of the Gresham Circle, a society of artists named after the café where they had their regular meetings. They considered the legacy of Szinyei Merse—representational painting filtered through memory—the starting point of their own art and sought to create timeless, idealized, figurative painting. The group steadfastly refrained from politics. They were supported by liberal upper-middle-class sponsors and represented a quiet, oppositional

stance in interwar Hungary, a country rapidly shifting to the political right. They came out as an outspoken political opposition only during World War II.

Villagers (1932) is one of Szőnyi’s finest works. A balanced composition of a group of Zebegény men and women, old and young, engaged in the quiet ritual of the evening gathering, it is an inherently monumental masterpiece of pastel hues, divided and connected figures

and color fields, stylized rendering, and timeless quiet.

Éva Forgács

István Szőnyi Villagers 1932 Oil on canvas 33

István Szőnyi

Villagers

1932

Oil on canvas

Vilmos Aba-Novák Trattoria 1929 Oil on canvas 34

Vilmos Aba-Novák

Trattoria

1929

Oil on canvas

Vilmos Aba-Novák

1894‒1941

Vilmos Aba-Novák was one of the most successful members of the post–World War I generation of Hungarian painters. He is considered as one of the most significant representatives of the Rome School, a group of state-supported neo- classicist Hungarian artists who had been awarded scholarships to reside, study, and work for a year or two at the Hungarian Academy in Rome. The program was established to allow young, Catholic Hungarian artists to absorb the contemporaneous Italian novecento style rather than have them be exposed to contemporary French and German art.

Aba-Novák was among the first recipients of this stipend. He spent the years 1928–31 in Rome, along with painters István Szőnyi, Károly Patkó, Pál Molnár C., and the sculptor Pál Pátzay. Like other grantees, he not only accepted the new classicism but also studied Roman and Byzantine antiquity as well as the monumental murals of the great trecento and quattrocento masters in Rome.

One of Aba-Novák’s recurring topics was the world of the circus, the artificial microcosm that so spectacularly differed from the ordinariness of everyday life. The Pierrots, harlequins, and other circus figures had not only had a long history in Western painting but were also rediscovered by many

painters who had been futurists or representatives of other pre–World War I avant-garde trends and were now reconsidering their approaches to their art. The circus epitomized the longed-for mysterious, different, exalted, poetic, and even dangerous world possessed of its own specific rituals. Aba-Novák kept his desire for this world within the boundaries of classical forms and compositions. He painted many pictures about the world of the circus that are clearly counterparts to the Arcadia paintings of his contemporaries. The circus, with all its characters, dramatic

Vilmos Aba-Novák

moments, and imaginary events, is also the realm of fantasy in which the painter indulges in spectacular colors and compositional bravura. Aba-Novák’s articulate neo-classic style imposed form and discipline onto the nostalgia inherent in his circus scenes.

While in Rome, Aba-Novák wandered over the city and was particularly attracted to the many small, popular restaurants of the Trastevere where local people felt comfortable. Building on the many sketches he had made, Trattoria (1929) is an eloquent painting of a tavern crowded with passionate, gesticulating, somewhat grotesque guests and musicians. Beside his paintings of village fairs, the circus, and Roman taverns, Aba-Novák was commissioned to paint murals in important churches and monuments in Hungary between 1932 and 1938.

In 1935 Aba-Novák visited New York City and painted a few watercolors there, including the one in the Nancy G. Brinker Collection, which he may have meant to use as sketches for future paintings. New York (1935), even as a sketch, reveals the Hungarian visitor’s impressions and fascination with the vertical dimensions and triumphant industrialism of the metropolis. It stands out in the neo-classicist oeuvre as a picture of real, fresh visual experience rather than imagination.

Éva Forgács

Vilmos Aba-Novák New York 1935 Watercolor on paper 37

Vilmos Aba-Novák

New York

1935

Watercolor on paper

André Kertész Untitled ca. 1923 Vintage gelatin silver contact print 38

André Kertész Untitled ca. 1923 Vintage gelatin silver contact print

André Kertész

1894‒1985

Perhaps the best known of the artists in the Nancy G. Brinker Collection, André Kertész is seldom thought of as Hungarian, as his best-known work was accomplished after his departure from his homeland. Like so many of his contemporaries who lived and grew up in Budapest, Kertész was fascinated by rural Hungarian culture. Frequent trips to the Ethnographic Museum as well as to relatives in the countryside fueled his interest. By the age of twelve Kertész was already taking photographs; yet even at this young age, the characteristics of his mature work—simplicity of subject matter and the sense of the dramatic in ordinary scenes—was already evident, along with his astute talent for clear composition.

At the age of eighteen, Kertész went to work at the Budapest Stock Exchange, where he stayed until the start of the World War I. During the war, he served in the infantry and

was wounded. Kertész brought his camera with him and recorded the nonmilitary side of life: his comrades in moments of leisure and repose, as well as the devastating effects of the war on the countryside. These photographs, some of which were published in Hungarian newspapers and journals, show the same simplicity that informed his earlier pictures.

At the end of World War I, Kertész returned to Budapest and to photography. The two images in the Brinker Collection date from this period. The photographs, taken at a floating swimming pool on the Danube, tied up on the Pest side of the city, just south of the Elisabeth Bridge, appear, at first, to be almost amateur images of a person, possibly a friend of Kertész’s, diving into the pool. These photographs, though, are anything but spontaneous. Carefully composed, they are the images of an artistically and technically adept photographer. The two compositions are similar: the strong static horizontal of the pool building roof contrasting with the dynamic diagonals of the

bridge cables just behind or, in the case of the one image, the railing of

the steps into the pool. This similarity

is one of the first clues that these

photographs are improvised, though

whether Kertész waited until someone dove, or asked a friend to help is not certain.

Kértesz shot the images at a relatively high speed, eliminating the blurriness of the motion, but he also used a broad depth of field, so that almost everything in the images— such as the Gellért Memorial or the Greek Orthodox Church in the background—is clear. These two factors combine to contribute to the sense that these photographs are more a witnessing of the event than

a photographic record. Since our

eyes automatically adjust the depth

André Kertész

of field and shift focus on slowly moving objects, the photographs, through careful manipulation of the camera, almost exactly reproduce what we would see.

In 1925, Kertész moved to Paris. With the purchase of a hand-held Leica camera, he was free to move from the studio to the street—a return, in many ways, to his earlier Hungarian work. The richness and striking juxtapositions of Parisian street life attracted him. Now his images speak of a sense of alienation from an increasingly mechanized life that is removed from nature and natural rhythms. Kertész expressed this experience through mirrors, distortions, and the use of nudes in contorted positions.

The rise of Nazism flooded France with refugee German photographers. In 1936 Kertész left Paris for New York City. First working as a free- lancer for fashion magazines as well as exhibiting his work in museum shows, he joined Condé Nast publications in 1947. Increasingly he received more and more favorable notices from art critics and even ventured into color photography. By the 1960s he had become a living classic, exhibiting his work worldwide and honored with prestigious awards. He revisited and photographed Hungary several times. He died in New York City in 1985. A eulogy was delivered by art critic Hilton Kramer.

André Kertész Untitled ca. 1923 Vintage gelatin silver contact print 41

André Kertész Untitled ca. 1923 Vintage gelatin silver contact print

László Moholy-Nagy Self-Portrait 1919 Watercolor 42

László Moholy-Nagy

Self-Portrait

1919

Watercolor

László Moholy-Nagy

1895‒1946

One of the emblematic figures of the international modernism of the 1920s, László Moholy-Nagy was a

versatile and prolific artist. He was

a faculty member of the Bauhaus,

first in Weimar, later moving to Dessau with the institution. He was the founder of the New Bauhaus in Chicago. He was a painter, photographer, kinetic artist, designer, stage designer, typographer, teacher, and author who also experimented with film.

Born in a small village in southern Hungary—he adopted the name of the farm-town Mohol where he spent most of his childhood— Moholy-Nagy served on the front

in World War I and started to draw

and paint on the postcards he was allowed to send back home. A self- taught artist, he became interested in the radical Hungarian avant-garde when he was discharged. As an idealist, he was enthusiastic about the social promises of the Hungarian Commune in 1919. After its defeat he went to Berlin. His one-man show at Herwarth Walden’s Der Sturm Gallery in early 1923 changed his life: Walter Gropius, director of the Bauhaus, was impressed with his work and

vision and invited him to be the youngest Bauhaus Master in the same year. Moholy-Nagy taught the famous Preliminary Course of the

Bauhaus. He counted among his colleagues at that time Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Oskar Schlemmer, and others.

Moholy-Nagy was committed to the artistic and social utopias of international constructivism while in Berlin and the Bauhaus. He soon became a central figure of the international avant-garde. He participated in meetings and debates with Theo van Doesburg, El Lissitzky, Raoul Hausmann, and others. He published the Book of New Artists

(1922) with the then-exiled leader of the Hungarian avant-garde, Lajos Kassák, in Vienna.

Lucia Schultz, who was soon to become Moholy-Nagy’s wife, taught him to use the camera, and Moholy became one of the most innovative photo artists of the early twentieth century. But in true Bauhaus spirit he was interested in and fascinated by every new medium and all the possibilities that the new technologies offered the artist. Film, photograms, and “telephone pictures,” opened up new worlds. His kinetic work, architectural designs, typography,

and writings, as well as his serving as editor of the Bauhaus Books series, made him internationally acclaimed. When the idea of the continuation of the Bauhaus in the United States was considered in 1937, Gropius suggested Moholy- Nagy as its founder and director.

Since Moholy-Nagy was very young when he left Hungary, precious few of his works remained behind in his homeland. Self-Portrait (1919), part of a mostly black-and-white series of drawings he made in 1919–20, is the most outstanding and best-preserved piece among those works. He seems to be informed by the politically committed and uncompromising expressionist art of painters like Oskar Kokoschka. Unwaveringly sincere, he puts all the power of expression into the line work. A vibrant linearity pervades the picture, resulting in a web of tense, rhythmical, expressive lines. He has also managed to give the viewer a psychologically profound and astute image of himself as a keen, curious, anxiously attentive, and confident young man.

Éva Forgács

Lajos Vajda

1908‒1941

Lajos Vajda died at the age of thirty- three in the midst of World War II. In the years since his death, his painterly and graphic oeuvre has become known beyond the boundaries of the art world and has been embraced by the wider public in Hungary. Today he is recognized as one of the greatest and most radically innovative artists of modern Hungarian art.

Vajda started to draw and paint as a child, and as a young man he attended the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts. He was eager to join the Hungarian avant-garde led by Lajos Kassák, but he lacked the artistic and ideological discipline that the group’s leader required. So he, too, along with his friends Dezső Korniss, György Kepes, and Sándor Tranuner left Budapest. He went to Paris, where he studied with Fernand Léger, and encountered not only cubism and surrealism but also Russian constructivism. Film, photography, and collage impressed him as the new media and were the inspiration for his subsequent graphic work and the photomontages in which themes of human cataclysms

are explored. Brutality, suffering, and the masses as prey to charismatic leaders are the subjects of his montage works.

Vajda returned to Hungary in 1934. With his friend, painter Dezső Korniss, he followed the example of Béla Bartók, who had collected folk music motifs. Together they embarked on an ambitious program to systematically collect the decorative motifs of Hungarian peasant art with the intention of exploring the deeper, mythological origins. They drew and copied ornaments in the village of Szigetmonostor as the first chapter of a project that aimed to create a visual vocabulary of the traditional arts in the Central Europe.

In his compositions Vajda used Hungarian, Serbian, and Jewish calligraphy and motifs such as tin crucifixes, old houses, gravestones, fences, and tools juxtaposed or layered, thus synthesizing surrealism and constructivism in

a unique way. His perspective took

a comprehensive view of the pre-

historic, ancient, and early Christian cultures as well as Judaism and European modernism. His simple, clear lines, articulate drawings, and multilayered compositions guide

the viewer from the concrete object to more complicated compositions that double as powerful visions. Most objects in Vajda’s paintings have a concrete presence as well as a symbolic meaning, allowing the image to have a cultural-historical dimension. The shape of the Orthodox Christian icon, which is, in geometric terms, a circle, haunts many of his paintings as a sacred, definitive, yet communal form lingering behind particular individual portraits.

Vajda’s most striking works are the surrealist-abstract charcoal drawings evoking monsters. These were made in the last years of his life when anxiety for his own life and for the fate of the world drove him to express nightmarish, infernal visions.

Abstract Composition (1928) reflects Vajda’s interest in constructivist geometry as well as the influence of the art of Paul Klee. At the time he painted it, his outlook on the world was still serene, and he was

able to create a work that we see

as a balanced still life.

Éva Forgács

Lajos Vajda Abstract Composition 1928 Charcoal on paper 45

Lajos Vajda

Abstract Composition

1928

Charcoal on paper

Dezső Korniss Flute Player 1950 Oil on canvas 46

Dezső Korniss

Flute Player

1950

Oil on canvas

Dezso Korniss

1908‒1984

˝

Throughout his long career Dezső Korniss combined the avant-garde attitude of constructivism, reminis- cences of figurative representation, cubist formal analysis, symbolic expression, and the dreamy language of surrealism. Already a maverick as a student, Korniss joined Lajos Kassák’s socialist Munka Kör (Work Circle) in 1930 along with Lajos Vajda, future MIT professor György Kepes, future film set designer Sándor Trauner, and others, who formed the Society of New Progressive Artists. In spite of their leftist political views and strong sense of social responsibility and social justice, the group was too idiosyncratic to accept Kassák’s discipline. Since the rest of the Hungarian art scene was even more hostile to them,

the young painters and artists had little choice but to go abroad. Korniss went to Paris, where, besides surrealism and abstraction, he found himself fascinated by the tradition of balanced Mediterranean composi- tions. He began experimenting with strong contours and simple, articulate, stylized figurative motifs.

Upon his return to Hungary in 1931 Korniss supported the Group of Socialist Artists. He spent long hours researching the materials in the Budapest Museum of Ethnography. In search of a modern Hungarian art rooted both in ancient tradition and in contemporary Western modernism. He cooperated with Lajos Vajda in systematically exploring and collect- ing the vocabulary of Hungarian folk art in Szentendre and Szigetmonostor during the late 1930s.

In 1945 Korniss was a founding member of the European School, a loose society of Hungarian artists formed in the aftermath of World War II with the goal of modernizing the language of Hungarian art. Between 1945 and 1950 he painted clearly composed, figurative pictures at Szentendre using local architectural motifs and typical ornaments as well as forms taken from prehistoric folk art. He blended constructivist discipline with surrealist dreaminess. In 1945 he also began work on a series

Dezso˝ Korniss

of several hundred prints entitled Illuminations, inspired by the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud.

During the 1950s Korniss renewed his interest in collage, experimented with animation film, and also worked on smaller painterly compositions. The latter are complex as well as monumental in spite of their actual dimension. Flute Player (1950), for example, echoes the work of Édouard Manet and Joan Miró on similar topics, as well as Lajos Vajda’s Szentendre paintings and Hungarian folk figures painted on ceramic jars. The clear construct of a house and the stylized flutist are framed by a window that opens up the space of the picture not only to the blue sky but also to a large field of associations. The reductive image of a musician balancing the sun and the moon on his mustache evokes the serenity of timeless antiquity, triumphant joy, and playful creativity.

Korniss had an interest in the reduction of his favorite motifs into abstract compositions. Big Red Composition (1950s) is evocative of stylized figures whose details originate from the architectural details such as the balustrades and windowsills of his beloved Szentendre houses and from folk carvings.

Typically for Korniss, the geometric house motif of the painting doubles as the rational framework of a free, cosmic, musical, human world of folkloric tradition, ancient melodies, and free imagination. The constant combination of formal discipline and unruly playfulness are Korniss’s signature feature. He has left a legacy in Hungarian painting from which generations of artists and viewers have benefited.

Éva Forgács

Dezső Korniss Big Red Composition 1950s Distemper on paper 49

Dezső Korniss Big Red Composition

1950s

Distemper on paper

Endre Bálint

1914‒1986

Endre Bálint’s ability to create atmosphere and intonations that are poignant and ironic are the quintessential features of what is called the Szentendre School in Hungarian art. A sleepy Mediterranean-like town a mere dozen kilometers north of Budapest, Szentendre attracted artists through- out the 1930s and early 1940s with its picturesque views and inexpensive housing. It is a small, densely built town perched on a hilltop sloping down to the Danube, with narrow curving streets,

a Serbian Orthodox church, small baroque Catholic churches, and

a quiet, somewhat melancholy

atmosphere. Its distinct local character as well as its closeness to Budapest made it an artists’ colony. Many Szentendre motifs, such as

single story, pitch-roofed houses, decorated window frames, and ancient ornaments, along with the poetic mood of the town, appear in the paintings of Lajos Vajda, Dezső Korniss, Endre Bálint, and others.

Bálint learned from János Vaszary and Vilmos Aba-Novák, but his friendship with Lajos Vajda had

a decisive impact on his art.

With a sensitivity akin to that of Vajda he was attracted by the symbolism

of simple objects. Shapes of a horse, a cart wheel, or women enveloped in head-scarves are to be found in his paintings, evoking childhood memories as well as the sense of transience.

In 1945, when Bálint painted in the neo-impressionist style, he was one of the founding members of the post–World War II association of Hungarian artists, the European School. This group set out to legitimize surrealism and abstraction

School. This group set out to legitimize surrealism and abstraction Endre Bálint Continuation I 1963 Oil

Endre Bálint

Continuation I

1963

Oil on panel

in Hungarian art based on the legacy of Lajos Vajda and Imre Ámos, who had died in the Holocaust, and to integrate Hungarian art into the European narrative. In their 1945 Manifesto they declared that the future belonged not to a Western European or an Eastern European art, but to the synthesis of both. They believed in a united culture of the European continent and were committed to champion its new, unified artistic language.

Bálint encountered surrealism when he visited Paris in 1947 and visited the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme in Paris. His paintings

from the late 1940s and early 1950s show the strong impact of the surrealist imagination and method, which he combined, starting in the mid-1950s, with the strong symbolism he encountered in Vajda’s drawings. Bálint also made multilayered drawings and paintings in which the clearly contoured forms see through one another. Soon he began making photomontages in which his humor and self-irony were at their best. A next step was combining montage-building with painting.

Eager to utilize what he saw as the basic features of the small, rural town, Bálint often used pieces of raw wood as his canvas to incorporate the shape and rustic texture as dynamic elements that were as much a part of the work of art as the painting. Having created his personal vocabulary, he often reduced his usual motifs to fragments, creating images of a veiled, shadowy world halfway between memory and reality. Continuation I (1963), painted on a long, narrow wooden panel, is a fine example, and indeed a synthesis of Bálint’s Szentendre motifs, his surrealist method, and his signature dreamy atmosphere.

Éva Forgács

a synthesis of Bálint’s Szentendre motifs, his surrealist method, and his signature dreamy atmosphere. Éva Forgács
a synthesis of Bálint’s Szentendre motifs, his surrealist method, and his signature dreamy atmosphere. Éva Forgács
Lili Ország In Front of Wall 1955 Oil on canvas 52

Lili Ország In Front of Wall

1955

Oil on canvas

Lili Ország

1926‒1978

Lili Ország’s oeuvre is a unique treasure in Hungarian painting. She is the strongest representative of surrealism in Hungarian art; this idiom was her response to the unspeakable horrors she had undergone and witnessed during the Holocaust. She had been in the ghetto at her native Ungvár (Uzhhorod, Ukraine) and imprisoned in a brick factory. Only at the last minute was she saved from deportation to Auschwitz. She hid in Budapest, using false documents, until the end of the war. When she became the student of István Szőnyi and Róbert Berény at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, she felt compelled to abandon the serene colors and balanced compositions they taught her because she found them superficial and shallow in the light of the humiliation and persecution she had suffered only a few years earlier. She was seeking personal imagery adequate to give full expression to the horror she had experienced and the historic vision she had developed.

Around 1950 she found the central, austere object that was able to express her anxiety, and it became the quintessential image in her early surrealist work from the 1950s: the wall. As in her painting In Front of Wall (1955), in which she represents

herself as a little girl in her Sunday best in front of a grim, forbidding red brick wall that dwarfs her, she used the wall and the shallow space it envelops as a rich motif to express infinite ramifications of meaning. The image evokes the impenetrable wall, actual and imaginary, that surrounded her no matter which way she turned. The wall also represents the finality, cruelty, exclusion, and imprisonment that had threatened her. The clock on the wall reminds the viewer of the inexorable march of time, ticking away before the catastrophe hits.

Ország often talked about her deadly fear of being walled in, a fear that continued to haunt her. Visualizing the wall was, for her, an attempt to break away from that recurring night- mare. In many of her paintings high walls enclose a labyrinth with a lone figure captive within, blindly trying to feel her way out. Ország did her best to come to terms with the power of systematic cruelty over the individual that she had experienced but did not and could not comprehend.

Dry Stalk (1952) epitomizes Ország’s desperate isolation, articulated much like Caspar David Friedrich’s Lone Tree (1822). As Mannequins (1955) indicates, Ország recognized Giorgio de Chirico as a painter with whom she felt an affinity. Unlike Chirico’s wooden constructs, however, Ország’s mannequins are headless figurines dressed up in a dreamy way for a never-to-happen ball, isolated from the world of the living by a screen toward which a living,

matronly woman walks. The mannequins are wooden but look fleshy, arrested in timeless expectation, lending the picture an air of surreality. Many of Ország’s works, particularly her collages, evoke the surrealism of Max Ernst. In her lyrical intonations she may be closest to the Czech surrealist female artist, her contemporary, Toyen (Marie Cerminova).

After 1956 Ország abandoned the wall motif and the surrealist idiom, yet she reinterpreted the wall in her monumental series of paintings representing ancient Hebrew letters on crumbling stone walls. In the eternal survival of the messages encoded in the letters she found a symbolical hole in the wall that opened it up for new and different meanings. Her subsequent series of paintings in which she replaced letters with integrated circuits show a shift in emphasis entirely to the code, the sign system that she used as a cipher to bridge the chasm between different generations of different time periods assaulted by history.

In Front of Wall, Dry Stalk, and Mannequins are eloquent representatives of Ország’s early surrealist period, and, as such, precious rarities.

Éva Forgács

Lili Ország

Lili Ország Lili Ország Mannequins 1955 Oil on canvas 54

Lili Ország

Mannequins

1955

Oil on canvas

Lili Ország Dry Stalk 1952 Oil on canvas 55

Lili Ország

Dry Stalk

1952

Oil on canvas

László Lakner “Secrets”: My Tied-Up Poems 1970 Oil on canvas 56

László Lakner

“Secrets”:

My Tied-Up Poems

1970

Oil on canvas

László Lakner

1936‒

László Lakner was the first post-1956 painter in Hungary who radically reinterpreted realism by perfecting it. He turned it into a kind of exalted photo-realism in the early 1960s, which almost preceded American photo-naturalism, or was at least contemporaneous with its beginnings. Lakner’s ideas, however, originated not from fascination with the photographic verisimilitude of the oil painting and the subliminally routine patterns of photo shots, but his repugnance with socialist realism. He chose to be absolutely accurate, enlarge his motifs, and reveal the tiny details of texture in order to demonstrate a truthfulness different from the officially pro- claimed “truth.” In a free combination of representational precision and idiosyncratic thinking, he achieved a particular blend of the real and the surreal that was appropriately labeled “surnatural” in Hungarian “art talk” of the 1960s. His magnified renderings of a rope, a rose, and human lips challenged the sense of the real by their straightforward explicitness and matter-of-fact representation.

Lakner was the first to introduce and interpret pop art in the Hungarian context, using banal mass culture products such as advertisements and images from illustrated maga- zines. Robert Rauschenberg’s works, which he saw at the 1964 Venice Biennale, inspired many of his painted montage compositions. He incorporated press photos, political posters, and details from Rembrandt paintings in his works. His particular admiration for Rembrandt accounted for his updating some of Rembrandt’s motifs and methods and recontextu- alizing them in 1960s Hungary.

Lakner was among the first realist painters to exploit truthful representation in order to ridicule socialist realism by presenting its favorite subject material—such as the Bolshevik revolution, socialist brigades, and others—in a mock- serious, ironic manner, inspiring the early work of László Fehér, who considers Lakner one of the most important sources of his inspiration.

Around 1970 Lakner started to paint book and text pictures, a motif that dominated his work for about a decade. His fascination with the

written word led him to represent handwriting in oil on canvas, while he also created conceptual objects using actual books. The graphic, visual value of writing led him to paint the enlarged handwriting of artists and poets who intrigued him, such as Paul Celan, Chaim Soutine, Paul Klee, Kurt Schwitters, Marcel Duchamp, and others. He also painted books tightly tied with a rope so they hide their contents— which, he suggests, would remain concealed anyway. The first of this series of paintings represented a volume by philosopher Georg Lukács, tied with and hanging from a rope. “Secrets”: My Tied-Up Poems (1970) is one work in this remarkable series that includes the visual representa- tion of books by philosophers and theorists, negotiating the territorial and theoretical gaps between the artist and the theorist.

Éva Forgács

István Nádler

1938‒

István Nádler belongs to the great generation of the Hungarian neo-avant-garde, coming of age as artists in the early 1960s. Nádler’s early work was impulsive and colorful, but he soon became one of the iconic figures of geometric abstraction. This was the main idiom of the historical Hungarian avant-garde of the 1920s, the leading figures of which, Lajos Kassák and Sándor Bortnyik, were still active and influential for most of the 1960s.

The formal discipline that Nádler imposed onto his painting entailed an ethical continuity and solidarity with the suppressed currents of Hungarian art that were inherently internationalist and progressive in outlook. Nádler’s work was more nuanced than most representatives of this trend. When, in the late 1960s, he developed his blossom motifs, it was a somewhat rounded, geometric vocabulary evocative of Hungarian folk art and decorative motifs in reference to a genuine, nonmanipulated and nonmanipulative artistic legacy. He posited this approach as being at least as progressive as the internationalism of the avant-garde of the 1920s.

Nádler was one of the participants of the legendary 1968 Budapest exhibition named, after its venue in an architectural planning office, Iparterv, the first striking survey of the new, post-1956, art in Hungary.

But Nádler is not a political artist. His work incessantly negotiates the emotive, personal element in the framework of the universal laws of geometry and infinity. In the mid-1980s he painted a great series

István Nádler 2001 No.1 2001 Oil on canvas 59

István Nádler

2001 No.1

2001

Oil on canvas

István Nádler

István Nádler István Nádler 2001 No.2 2001 Oil on canvas 60

István Nádler

2001 No.2

2001

Oil on canvas

based on Kazimir Malevich’s Yellow Square (1917–18) representing a square shape shown in steep foreshortening as it is turned into the depth of space so that it reads as a triangle. But it is, more importantly, a liberated form of geometric origin, at once one form and yet again something else, filled with dancing brush strokes, musicality, rhythm, and emotional impact. This series spelled the end of Nádler’s hard-edge period, and his subse- quent work has been intensely musical, colorful, and lively textured brushwork. Nádler has been studying the conflict of the gesture and the perfect form, examining rectangles and triangles exposed to impulsive lines, spontaneous motions, and colors.

In two compositions, 2001 No. 1 (2001) and 2001 No. 2 (2001), Nádler has conveyed the poetic beauty of the juxtaposition of two clearly defined colors and the parallel strokes the brush leaves in the act of applying pigment to the canvas. The textured blue background, a hue reminiscent of the Yves Klein blue, superimposed by a black rectangle is yet overwritten by the shiny horizontal strokes of black matter. These gestures-against-the-rule paintings exude the solemnity of harmony attained when form, color, gesture, matter, and light are brought into balance.

Éva Forgács

Károly Kelemen

1948‒

Károly Kelemen has been an important player in several different art movements—first in the Hungarian neo-avant-garde of the 1970s and later in the postmodern current of the 1980s called New Sensibility in Hungary.

Kelemen’s late 1970s erasure pictures hit the Budapest art scene with a fury. Unlike the totally erased Willem de Kooning picture, Kelemen used erasure as an added motif, so that he multiplied both the meaning and the physical layers of the pictures. Photo-portraits of Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Jackson Pollock, László Moholy-Nagy, and works of other iconic masters of the avant-garde were overlaid with sweeping gestures of eraser-work that removed parts of the original drawing. Partly appropriation art, partly passionate negation, the construction and the deconstruction of the image were inseparable in Kelemen’s new body of work.

Kelemen paid tribute to the classics of twentieth century—modernity and its myths—when portraying them in the hyper-realist style. But at the same time he vehemently negated them by taking out parts of the portraits with his soft eraser. These pictures are drawn on canvas

with graphite, which lends them another touch of classicism. “The myth as ready-made,” to use his own words, is Kelemen’s subject. He uses the original images as ready-mades and proves them to be something else with a Magritte-like “this is not a pipe” treatment. He makes a perfect graphite drawing that he “overwrites” with gestures of erasure. The viewer then gets the sum of these actions as a new, third image. The formula is the same as that of the collage in Sergei Eisenstein’s definition: 1+1= 3.

Kelemen belonged to the group of young artists—students or new graduates—who gathered in the Rózsa presszó (Rose Cafe), organizing performances and exhibitions from about March 1975 on. He was one of the neo-figuratives who reconsidered artistic representation.

Kelemen, as he often stated, was taken not so much with the philosophy as with the material and technical aspects of his works. One of the central figures of the post-Iparterv generation, a group of young abstract and conceptual artists who first showed their work in 1968, he continued to use quotations and references, and indeed, he appropriated other elements into his paintings throughout the 1980s. For example, he deliberately blended the cubist Pablo Picasso with the pre-cubist one and added his own

childhood teddy bear in his painting Ironing Bear or Life Is Hard (1985),

a paraphrase of Picasso’s Ironing Woman (1904) in which the woman

is replaced by a huge toy bear

painted in cubist style but highly colored. He continued to challenge the icons of the classic avant-garde, for example combining Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire (1902–04), and he used works of classical antiquity and images of playing cards as ready-mades as well.

Tallow-Dream (2000) is one if the finest pieces of Kelemen’s work. Here he evokes the legend of the German artist Josef Beuys, who was said to have been saved by Crimean Tartars after his plane crashed during World War II. The Tartars, he said, wrapped him in fat and felt to keep him warm, and these two materials became Beuys’s recurring topics in memory of this self-mythologized event.

In his signature mix of nostalgia and irony, theoretical inquiry and craftsmanship, emotional charge and humor, appropriation and originality, Kelemen presents a new expressivity and a reassessment of the recent past.

Éva Forgács

Károly Kelemen Tallow-Dream 2000 Graphite, lacquer on canvas 63

Károly Kelemen

Tallow-Dream

2000

Graphite, lacquer on canvas

László Fehér Brigade Excursion (Genre Paintings II) 1979 Oil on fiberboard 64

László Fehér

Brigade Excursion

(Genre Paintings II)

1979

Oil on fiberboard

László Fehér

1953‒

László Fehér burst into the art scene when, after a few minor presentations, he had his first solo show at Műcsarnok (Hall of the Arts), one of the most important venues of contemporary art in Budapest, in 1988.

Reminiscent of photo-naturalism but reductive and highly personal, Fehér’s paintings exploited not just photography but also the particular vulnerability and accidental character of family snapshots. He used old photographs representing sites of city life, family outings, himself as a child, his parents, or other groups, such as socialist brigades. Brigade Excursions (1979) captures one of these groups on an outing. These brigades were factory teams organized following the Soviet model, obliged to be upbeat about work and to maintain the spirit of cooperation and working morale in Communist Hungary.

Born in the year—in fact, the month—of Joseph Stalin’s death, Fehér matured in the era of a some- what benign dictatorship under the

leadership of János Kádár. Fehér’s early paintings exude the hidden emotions, silent dissent, and suppressed desires of people living under totalitarian rule. His photo- naturalist paintings differ from the American pieces of the same style and time in their political awareness and meaning. They blend compassion and sarcastic criticism. During the years when Fehér was coming of age as an artist, realism was the dictum, so he offered realism, but with a twist. Instead of mandatory optimism, Fehér’s early photo- naturalist paintings exhibit the inconvenient truth of poverty, decay, and provincialism, but also with an eye for the grotesque. In addition to his Hungarian predecessors László Lakner and László Méhes, this period of his painting brings to mind Ilya Kabakov’s mock-socialist- realist works that sympathize with the vulnerable small person who seeks happiness and fulfillment under circumstances that would not warrant either.

Radically limiting his palette in the mid-1980s, he evoked the childhood photographs taken from his family album in paintings reduced to black and white and tones of gray. Some are purple and yellow, others are black and yellow with shadowy, transparent figures, painted as mere contours, passing through them. He omits most of the details of the original photograph, leaving only the basics of the environment serving as the background for his transparent figures. Fehér achieved a filmlike effect in this way, giving the impression that the figures, rendered as outlines, the likes of which we see in Smoking Man (1998) and Black Vase (1998) have only a transitory presence. The enigma of photography, as the representation of present and past

Breaking another taboo, Fehér also used Jewish themes and the memory of the Holocaust in images that were metaphoric as well as photo-realist. One of the outstanding works of this period is Diaspora (1982), the photo-naturalist representation of a piece of matzo broken into pieces.

László Fehér

at the same time, turn these very literal paintings into metaphors, as the transient figures seem to walk through life itself, not simply the actual scene.

Consistent with the concept of transience Fehér has used the motif of stairs throughout his career. The mystery of moving from unknown depth to unknown height returns in his Self-Portrait with Staircase (2001) a synthesis of the abstract and the photographically real. Here Fehér uses an unusual vantage point, showing the white figure of a man humbly climbing the white stairs in the abstract space of blackness, opening up a mystical dimension within the style of photo-realism.

Heller, and others, Fehér has created an impressive portrait gallery of personalities who have made an impact on the time in which they live.

Although he has frequently changed the basic color or the style in his paintings as he continues his explorations, Fehér has developed a consistent body of work. One of the most prolific artists of his generation, he has produced a powerful oeuvre that is uniquely individual in motifs and intonation, even as it evokes the deeper and darker collective experience.

In his series of portraits, which include one of Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker (2004), philosopher Ágnes

László Fehér Black Vase 1998 Oil on canvas 67

László Fehér

Black Vase

1998

Oil on canvas

László Fehér

László Fehér László Fehér Smoking Man 1998 Pastel on paper 68

László Fehér

Smoking Man

1998

Pastel on paper

László Fehér Self Portrait with Staircase 2001 Acrylic on canvas 69

László Fehér Self Portrait with Staircase

2001

Acrylic on canvas

László Fehér

László Fehér László Fehér Portrait of Nancy Brinker 2004 Oil on canvas 70

László Fehér

Portrait of Nancy Brinker

2004

Oil on canvas

Artists Biographies

Vilmos Aba-Novák Born Budapest March 15, 1894; died Budapest September 29, 1941. Vilmos Aba-Novák enrolled

Vilmos Aba-Novák

Born Budapest March 15, 1894; died Budapest September 29, 1941.

Vilmos Aba-Novák enrolled in the

Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in

1912 to train to be an art teacher.

After he had served in World War I he studied printmaking with Viktor Olgyai. He had his first solo show at the Ernst Museum in 1922. Beginning in 1928 he worked in Rome for three years, having been awarded the prestigious Rome stipend by the Hungarian government, and became an emblematic

representative of the neo-classicist Rome School, the Hungarian version of the novecento style. He had successful shows in Budapest as well as Milan and sold many of his paintings to Italian collectors. In 1935 he visited the United States and spent a few months in New York City. Upon his return to Hungary he accepted many ecclesiastic commissions, some of them large murals. He was successful abroad, too: he won the Grand Prix at the

1936 Paris World Fair. From 1939 on

he was a professor at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts and was one of the officially supported artists and a celebrated mural painter of interwar Hungary. Since his death, several retrospective exhibitions of his works have been organized in Budapest, Warsaw, Prague, Kosice, and elsewhere.

in Budapest, Warsaw, Prague, Kosice, and elsewhere. Endre Bálint Born Budapest October 14, 1914; died Budapest

Endre Bálint

Born Budapest October 14, 1914; died Budapest May 3, 1986.

Bálint was son of the well-known journalist and literary critic, Aladár Bálint. He studied advertising design at the Budapest School of Decorative Arts, 1930–34. After that he studied at the private painting school of János Vaszary and Vilmos Aba-Novák. From 1936 on he spent several summers at Szentendre and befriended Lajos Vajda, who had a major impact on his painting. In 1945 he was one of the founding members of the European School, an artists’ society uniting most of the Hungarian artists in the wake of World War II into a program of grafting progressive tendencies like surrealism, constructivism, and abstraction onto Hungarian art and integrating Hungarian art into the European narrative of progressive art. He traveled to Paris in 1947 and was influenced by the surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Meaght, which influenced his subsequent paintings and photomontages.

He left Hungary after the 1956 revolution. Between 1957 and 1961 he lived in Paris. In 1958 Édition Labergerie published the Jerusalem Bible with more than one thousand illustrations by Bálint. The 1960s was Bálint’s most prolific period. He exhibited widely in Hungary and Europe, and besides his painterly work he published several volumes of poetry and his memoirs.

Róbert Berény Born Budapest March 18, 1887; died Budapest September 10, 1953. Róbert Berény was

Róbert Berény

Born Budapest March 18, 1887; died Budapest September 10, 1953.

Róbert Berény was a self-taught artist who took classes irregularly

before his first trip to Paris in 1905. He studied at the Académie Julian for

a mere three months, and exhibited

four of his paintings at the 1906 Salon d’Automne in Paris. The following year he showed six works at the Salon des Indépendants, in which he participated in 1908 as well. Upon his return to Budapest he represented a blend of colorism

and Cézannesque structure. In 1909 he joined the Károly Kernstok-led modernist group The Seekers (renamed The Eight in 1911) and participated in the group’s exhibitions. During the Hungarian Commune in 1919 he designed the famous poster that called people to arms in the defense of the Commune. He had to emigrate after the defeat of the Commune, and lived in Berlin until the general amnesty in 1926. He could not find work while in Berlin, but composed musical pieces and wrote concert reviews. Upon his return to Hungary he was not only appreciated as a painter but also as

a graphic designer. His commercial

posters were very popular. In 1948 he was appointed professor at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, and he received several state prizes and awards.

Budapest, and he received several state prizes and awards. Béla Czóbel Born Budapest September 4, 1883;

Béla Czóbel

Born Budapest September 4, 1883; died Budapest January 29, 1976.

Béla Czóbel began studying painting with the Hungarian artist Béla Iványi- Grünwald in the summer of 1902, then studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, and at the Académie Julian in Paris with Jean-Paul Laurens. He exhibited as early as 1903 at both the Salon de Champs- de-Mars in Paris and the Nemzeti Szalon in Budapest. In Paris he befriended Henri Matisse, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani, and many other artists. In 1905 he exhibited at the landmark Salon d’Automne along with the fauves and became the leading artist among the Hungarian post- impressionists working at the Nagybánya Artists’ Colony in northeastern Hungary (Baia Mare, Romania). He had his first one-man show at the Galerie Berthe Weil in Paris in 1907. He continued to work in Hungary, spent his summers at Károly Kernstok’s house at Nyergesújfalu, and was co-founder with him of the group The Seekers in 1909. Between 1914 and 1919 Czóbel lived in the Netherlands, then moved to Berlin, where he contacted the members of the former Die Brücke, and joined the Freie Sezession. In 1925 he moved to

Paris and had a retrospective exhibition at the Galerie Bing in 1930. Meanwhile he was active in organizing the KÚT (New Society of Artists) in Hungary, had several retrospectives shows in his native city, and was awarded the most prestigious prizes. He participated in the Venice Biennale for the first time in 1934, exhibited in New York in 1927, and in 1936 at the Gallery Brummer. He went to Szentendre in 1939, and after World War II he spent the summers there and the winters in Paris. In 1945 he joined the European School, a society of progressive Hungarian artists, and exhibited with the group as well as at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Katia Granoff, Galerie Drouet, and Galerie Zak in Paris, the Galerie Moos at Geneva, and leading Budapest venues. Czóbel’s paintings are in many public and private collections all over the world. He was recognized in Hungary by several high state awards and prizes.

in Hungary by several high state awards and prizes. László Fehér Born Székesfehérvár March 17, 1953.

László Fehér

Born Székesfehérvár March 17, 1953.

Fehér studied at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts between 1971 and 1976 with Lajos Szentiványi and Ignác Kokas. His early photo- naturalist paintings singled him out not only as a great talent but also as a new voice, both lyrical and documentary. He found his signature reductive, symbolic, photo-based realist style in the mid-1980s. He was the first artist after World War II to break the taboo of Jewish subject matter and the Holocaust in Hungarian painting. Fehér rapidly rose to international recognition. He participated in a great number of exhibitions and has had numerous solo shows worldwide. In Hungary he was recognized with the Kossuth Prize in 2000. The many other prizes he has won include the MAOE Professional Prize at the Fifth National Pastel Biennale, and the Prize for Hungarian Jewish Culture, 2003. Fehér lives in Budapest and Tác, Hungary.

Jeno˝ Gábor Born Pécs May 23, 1893; died Pécs September 1, 1968. Jenő Gábor studied

Jeno˝ Gábor

Born Pécs May 23, 1893; died Pécs September 1, 1968.

Jenő Gábor studied at the Budapest Academy of Fine Arts with Tivadar Zemplényi. From 1919 on he worked as an art teacher in his native town, then, in the 1940s he lived in Szeged in southern Hungary.

In 1926 and 1937 he made trips to Paris and in 1931 to Berlin. He had solo exhibitions at the Nemzeti Szalon in Budapest in 1939, in the Ernst Museum in 1959, and a major retrospective show in Pécs in 1971.

in 1959, and a major retrospective show in Pécs in 1971. Béla Kádár Born Budapest June

Béla Kádár

Born Budapest June 14, 1877; died Budapest January 22, 1956.

Béla Kádár traveled to Paris and Munich in 1896, and upon his return to Budapest enrolled in the Mintarajziskola (Pattern Drawing School) that was noted for its high professional standards. He won a scholarship in 1911, exhibited his work in 1921 in Budapest, then traveled to Berlin. He had a solo exhibition in Der Sturm Gallery and participated at a number of group shows there. His works were included in the Société Anonyme’s 1926 International Exhibition of Modern Art at the Brooklyn Museum. In 1928 he traveled to the United States as one of the Der Sturm Gallery’s artists.He was member of progressive societies of artists in Hungary such as KÚT (New Society of Artists), and UME (Association of New Artists). He adopted his signature decorative style in the early 1930s and had much recognition and a wide audience. In the 1950s he returned to realism and used socialist themes as subject matter.

Károly Kelemen Born Győr 1948. Károly Kelemen attended the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in

Károly Kelemen

Born Győr 1948.

Károly Kelemen attended the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, 1970–74. Beginning in 1975 he participated in the Rózsa (Rose) group (named after the café where they regularly met). In 1982 he opened the Rabinec Gallery (later renamed the Rabinext Gallery) in his own studio in Budapest’s Falk Miksa Street, which became a meeting point and the site of activity for young artists in the city. In 1994 he was awarded a stipend to attend the Hungarian Academy in Rome. Two years later he was the guest of Yoko Ono and Samuel Havadtőy in the Ono-Lennon Studio in New York City. In 1998 he was artist in residence at the Villa Romana in Florence. Kelemen lives in Szentendre near Budapest.

in Florence. Kelemen lives in Szentendre near Budapest. André Kertész Born Budapest July 2,1894; died New

André Kertész

Born Budapest July 2,1894; died New York City, September 28, 1985.

André Kertész is known as one of the pioneers of modern photography. Even though he had worked at the Budapest Stock Exchange and served in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I, his camera was always at hand. In 1925 he left Hungary for Paris to pursue photography and changed his birth name of Andor to André. In 1936 alarmed by the escalating tensions within Europe, Kertész left for the United States. For almost thirty years he worked for the Condé Nast publishing firm, doing fashion and architectural photography. Only in the 1960s and in his retirement did he return to the world of fine art photography that was his first love. A solo show at the Museum of Modern Art shortly afterward reestablished his position and reputation. Kertész is considered a classic in modern photography.

Dezso˝ Korniss Born Beszterce [Bistrija, Romania] December 1, 1908; died Budapest August 17, 1984. Dezső

Dezso˝ Korniss

Born Beszterce [Bistrija, Romania] December 1, 1908; died Budapest August 17, 1984.

Dezső Korniss studied painting and drawing 1921–22 in the private school of Artúr Podolini-Volkman. At fifteen he traveled to the Netherlands, where he was profoundly impressed with the work of Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Piet Mondrian. He became the student of István Csók and János Vaszary at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts between 1925 and 1929. In 1930 he was a founding member of the Society of New Progressive Artists in Budapest; in 1930–1931 he joined the Munka Kör (Work Circle) led by the leader of the Hungarian avant- garde Lajos Kassák. From 1929 on he was member of KÚT (New Society of Artists) as well as the

Society of Szentendre Painters. In 1930 he traveled to France and the Netherlands. Later he worked with his friend Lajos Vajda at Szentendre and Szigetmonostor, collecting and organizing motifs of folk ornaments. Having served in World War II and been a prisoner of war, he joined the European School in Budapest, 1945, and was a leading member of the group. In 1947–48 he was professor of the Hungarian Academy of Decorative Arts. Dismissed in 1948, he supported himself by coloring puppets and creating commercial posters. Between 1963 and 1969 he worked in the Pannonia Film Studio in Budapest, which specialized in animation. In 1958 he had a one-man show in the Netherlands that was followed by retrospectives in Hungary at Székesfehérvár, Hatvan, Szentendre, and Budapest. Korniss has had a major impact on younger generations of artists and was invited to participate in many of their exhibitions.

László Lakner Born Budapest April 15, 1936. László Lakner studied at the Hungarian Academy of

László Lakner

Born Budapest April 15, 1936.

László Lakner studied at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts with the much respected Aurél Bernáth, whose students carried on and creatively altered his artistic legacy. Lakner has participated in exhibitions since 1958 in Hungary and abroad. His many study trips took him to Italy, Austria, and Germany. He was awarded many grants, and in 1976 he won the Paula Modersohn-Becker Prize and settled in Germany. In 1977 he won the Prize of German Art Critics, in 1979 he was invited to teach at the University of Essen, in 1979–80 he taught in the Art History Department of the University of Berlin. In 1980–81 he was awarded a grant by the P.S.1 Foundation of the Museum of Modern Art and spent the year in New York City. Since 1982 he has been a professor at the University of Essen. In 1999 he was awarded with the Kossuth Prize in his native Hungary. He has had major exhibitions in leading European art museums. Lakner lives in Essen and Berlin.

László Moholy-Nagy

Lakner lives in Essen and Berlin. László Moholy-Nagy Born Bácsborsód July 20, 1895; died Chicago November

Born Bácsborsód July 20, 1895; died Chicago November 24, 1946.

László Moholy-Nagy went to school at Szeged, the industrial and intellectual center of southern Hungary. He started to write poetry and published a few poems in local journals in 1913. He moved to Budapest in the same year, began to study law, but was drafted in 1916. He started to draw as a soldier. He was wounded, was taken care of a military hospital in Odessa, then returned to Budapest, where he exhibited some of his work. During the 1919 Hungarian Commune he signed the Manifesto of the Hungarian Activists, so he had reason to fear retaliation after the defeat of the Commune. He joined the Hungarian activists in Vienna, later settling in Berlin. In 1923 Walter Gropius invited him to join the faculty of the Bauhaus, where Moholy-Nagy taught various courses until 1928. He met his first wife Lucia Schultz in Berlin in 1920. She taught him photography; it became one of the most important media for Moholy-Nagy. Between 1926 and 1928, he was editor and designer

of the Bauhaus Books series as well as the Bauhaus Journal, published Painting, Photography, Film (1925), From Material to Architecture (1927), and contributed to the Bauhaus Stage (1924). He participated in the dynamic German art life as artist, teacher, stage designer, and author of many articles. In 1929 he shot his first film Marseille, an Old Harbour, followed by Black-White-Gray (1932), and Metropolitan Gypsies (1932). He met his second wife Sybille Pietzsch; they were married in 1933. From Nazi Germany they fled to the Netherlands, then in 1935 to England, where he worked as a set designer with Alexander Korda and published three photo albums. In 1937 Walter Gropius recommended that Moholy-Nagy be the director of the New Bauhaus in Chicago. After his death the institution was reorganized, renamed, and has survived as part of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

survived as part of the Illinois Institute of Technology. Mihály Munkácsy Born Munkács [Mukachevo, Ukraine]

Mihály Munkácsy

Born Munkács [Mukachevo, Ukraine] February 20, 1844; died Endenich, Germany May 1, 1900.

Mihály Munkácsy was born into a lower-middle-class family of German origin. Orphaned at an early age, he became a carpentry apprentice and taught himself to paint. In 1865, he got help from several patrons and went to study in Vienna, then in Munich where, in contrast to dominant traditions of history painting, he produced peasant genres. In 1867, he traveled to Paris and became strongly impressed by the work of Gustave Courbet and the plein-air paintings of the Barbizon School. Between 1868 and 1871, while continuing his studies in Düsseldorf, he completed his first large-scale work, The Convict, which won the Gold Medal of the Paris Salon in 1870. Encouraged by this unexpected success, he moved to Paris in the fall of 1871 and stayed there for the rest of his life. In 1874 he married the widow of the baron de Marches. After 1875 he turned

to landscapes, where the influence of the Barbizon painters is visible. From 1881 he painted dramatic religious and historical subjects in a highly dramatic style, including the Hungarian Conquest (Hungarian Parliament) and Apotheosis of the Renaissance (ceiling of the staircase in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). He was also highly success- ful with his paintings representing the life of the rich in Paris. When he became a wealthy celebrity in Paris, he supported young artists. Munkácsy died in a mental hospital in Endenich, Germany, in 1900. His work is represented in the museums of Vienna, Philadelphia, Chicago, and in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Chicago, and in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. István Nádler Born Visegrád November 29, 1938.

István Nádler

Born Visegrád November 29, 1938.

After graduating from the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, István Nádler traveled to France on various grants 1965 to 1972. He was awarded a stipend by the Folkwang Museum, Essen in 1974 and 1975–79. He has been a member of the Budapesti Műhely, an association of prominent neo-avant-garde artists including, among others, Ilona Keserü, Imre Bak, and Tamás Hencze. In 1982 he received the Special Prize of the Jury at the International Festival of Painting at Cagnes-sur-Mer. In 1985 he received the First Prize of the Fourth European Biennale of Prints in Baden-Baden. Nádler was awarded with a great number of grants in, among other places, Rome, Lisbon, Zug, and Florence. In 2001 he was awarded the Kossuth Prize, the highest official recognition by the Republic of Hungary.

József Nemes-Lampérth

József Nemes-Lampérth Born Budapest 1891; died Sátoraljaújhely 1924. József Nemes-Lampérth enrolled first in the

Born Budapest 1891; died Sátoraljaújhely 1924.

József Nemes-Lampérth enrolled first in the Hungarian Academy of Decorative Arts, then the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts where he studied with István Bosznay and Tivadar Zemplényi. He refused to obey his masters and made stylized rather than realistic pictures. He was forced to leave the Academy. He went to Nagybánya and then to Paris in 1913. World War I interrupted his studies. He was drafted and wounded. He joined the avant-garde circle of Lajos Kassák, published many of his drawings in his journal Ma, participated in the Exhibition of Young Artists in Budapest, 1917, and the Ma exhibition in 1918. The Budapest Museum of Fine Arts purchased some of his works in 1918. He worked as an art teacher at the Proletarian Art Studio during the 1919 Commune, so he had to leave after the defeat of the Commune. He traveled to Vienna and then Berlin, where he participated in an exhibition at the Fritz Gurlitt Gallery. He lived in great poverty, but the Swedish art collector Gustaf Konrad Ekström invited him to his estate in Sweden so he could work free of financial worries. Nemes-Lampérth’s mental health collapsed and he was obliged to return to Hungary, where he was hospitalized and diagnosed with manic depression. During his time at the asylum he had few periods of active work; he died in the asylum.

he had few periods of active work; he died in the asylum. Lili Ország Born Ungvár

Lili Ország

Born Ungvár [Uzhhorod, Ukraine] August 8, 1926; died Budapest October 1, 1978.

Lili Ország wanted to be a painter from the age of twelve. In spring 1944 she was locked up with the Jews of her native town in the local brick factory awaiting deportation. She escaped and spent the rest of

the war hiding in Budapest. After the war she enrolled in the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts and studied with István Szőnyi and Róbert Berény, 1945–1950. In 1953 she met the painter Endre Bálint, who was the first to recognize her potential as

a significant artist and to encourage

her to follow her vision. Throughout most of her life Ország earned her living as a puppet designer for the Hungarian State Puppet Theater. At the same time she was developing

a considerable body of work. Her

travels to Bulgaria, Prague, Jerusalem, Naples, and Pompeii inspired her to

incorporate ancient forms, relics, signs, and writings into her work. She had many important exhibitions in Hungary as well as in Rome (1969), Paris (1970), Warsaw (1972), Federal Republic of Germany (1976, 1978), and Tel Aviv (1977).

Pál Szinyei Merse Born Szinyeújfalu [Chminianska Nová Ves, Slovakia] July 4, 1845; died Jernye [Jarovnice,

Pál Szinyei Merse

Born Szinyeújfalu [Chminianska Nová Ves, Slovakia] July 4, 1845; died Jernye [Jarovnice, Slovakia], February 2, 1920.

Pál Szinyei Merse was born into a noble Hungarian family of respected lineage. He enrolled in the Munich Academy of Fine Arts in 1864, where he was trained to be a highly skilled painter and draftsman. He was taught the academic style that he rejected. He was more interested in the works of his more-free-spirited contemporaries Gustave Courbet and Arnold Böcklin, as well as in the real potential of color. He caused dismay with his colorful, serene, plein-air paintings, particularly Picnic in May (1873). It was dismissed by the rigidly traditional and authoritative Hungarian Academy. This failure discouraged him, and he ceased to work as an artist. He retired to his estate and married. Painting became an occasional pastime. He took up painting again in 1882, but he was again unsuccessful. The Academy would not allow the free use of natural light, a choice of subject matter, and color. Szinyei Merse was only first understood and appreciated after 1896 when the younger generation discovered him and saw him as their forerunner. In 1897 he was elected to the Hungarian Parliament. In 1905 he became director of the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts. He showed his work in retrospective exhibitions in Hungary and abroad to considerable success.

exhibitions in Hungary and abroad to considerable success. Imre Szobotka Born Zalaegerszeg 1890; died Budapest 1961.

Imre Szobotka

Born Zalaegerszeg 1890; died Budapest 1961.

Imre Szobotka studied at the Hungarian Academy of Decorative Arts, 1905–10 and made study trips to Venice, Rome, and Paris. In 1911 he traveled to Transylvania and exhibited the paintings he had made there in his first one-man show. The time in Paris, to which he returned, had a decisive impact on his painting. He enrolled in the Académie de la Palette, where he met Jean Metzinger and Henri Le Fauconnier. In 1913 and 1914 he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants. When World War I broke out he was interned in Bretagne (Brittany) as an enemy alien. He returned to Hungary in 1919, and became an important representative of modern art. He was a founding member of KÚT (New Society of Artists) and regularly exhibited his works. His cubist period is still considered his best.

István Szonyi˝ Born Újpest [Budapest] January 17, 1894; died Zebegény August 31, 1960. István Szőnyi

István Szonyi˝

Born Újpest [Budapest] January 17, 1894; died Zebegény August 31, 1960.

István Szőnyi attended the Free Evening School of the Budapest Academy of Fine Arts, where he befriended Béla Uitz and János Kmetty. In 1913 he became a regular student at the Academy, first training as an art teacher, then as a painter with Károly Ferenczy and later with István Réti. In the summer of 1914 he won a stipend to reside and paint at the Nagybánya Artists’ Colony. He was drafted and served in World War I, but was discharged because of an illness and returned to Nagybánya to paint in 1917 and 1918. During the 1919 Commune he was active as the leader of the art division of the Young Worker’s Union and was consequently excluded from the Academy. However, he could participate in art exhibitions. In 1920 he won the award of the newly formed Szinyei Merse Pál Society, and had his first solo exhibition in 1921. He participated at the first KÚT (New Society of Artists) exhibition in 1924, and was generally regarded as the member of the young generation who would carry on this artistic tradition.

In 1924 he married and moved to Zebegény, a picturesque village on the curve of the Danube, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. The landscape and the people of Zebegény became his signature subjects. He became a celebrated painter, winning awards and stipends including the prestigious grant of the Hungarian Academy in Rome in 1928. In the early 1930s he was, along with his friends Aurél Bernáth and Róbert Berény, a central figure of the Gresham Circle, a group of figurative painters whose program was to revive the art of Szinyei and post-impressionism and keep art insulated from politics. During the German occupation of Hungary Szőnyi helped several Jews offering them shelter at great personal risk. During the siege of Budapest, 1944-45, a bomb hit his studio, destroying many of his works. He was professor at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts beginning in 1938. After World War II his art was recognized with a number of state awards. His home in Zebegény is now a museum dedicated to his work.

Béla Uitz Born Temes-Mehela, Romania March 8, 1887; died Budapest January 26, 1972. Béla Uitz

Béla Uitz

Born Temes-Mehela, Romania March 8, 1887; died Budapest January 26, 1972.

Béla Uitz was trained as a locksmith in his childhood like his future friend and brother-in-law Lajos Kassák. He enrolled in the Hungarian Academy of Decorative Arts to study mural painting in 1907, but transferred to the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1908, where he studied with Ede Balló and Károly Ferenczy. His peers were János Kmetty, József Nemes-Lampérth, Péter Dobrovits, and Andor Erős. In 1912 he married a sister of Kassák. From 1915 he regularly published articles in Kassák’s journals, A Tett (The Action) and Ma (Today). Eventually Uitz became the co-editor of Ma. He was active during the 1919 Hungarian Commune as director of a proletarian school of artists and as a painter and poster designer. After the defeat of the Commune he was arrested, but was allowed to leave for Vienna. He also lived in Berlin and Paris until his 1926 departure for the Soviet Union where he remained until 1970. In 1968 the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest organized a retrospective exhibition of his works. Shortly afterward he returned to Hungary.

of his works. Shortly afterward he returned to Hungary. Lajos Vajda Born Zalaegerszeg August 1908; died

Lajos Vajda

Born Zalaegerszeg August 1908; died Budapest September 7, 1941.

Lajos Vajda enrolled in the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1927, where he studied with István Csók until 1930. In 1928 Vajda, as an ambitious representative of the younger generation, joined the Munka Kör (Work Circle) led by Lajos Kassák. The younger artists clashed with Kassák, who was unwilling to accept their bias against his somewhat rigid version of constructivism. Vajda and Dezső Korniss traveled to Paris where they studied with Fernand Léger. During his four-year stay in Paris, Vajda encountered not only cubism and surrealism but also Russian constructivism. He took an interest in film, photography, and collage,

and made a series of photomon- tages. Back in Hungary Vajda met his future wife Julia Richter, a painter. He lived and worked in Szentendre in great poverty. In 1937 he and Korniss embarked on an ambitious program to collect and organize motifs of Hungarian peasant art, which they began at the neighboring village of Szigetmonostor. In his subsequent painterly work Vajda used Hungarian, Serbian, and Jewish motifs juxta- posed or layered in his compositions. His work was a synthesis of surrealism and constructivism, regional and European, the individual and cultural. In his last years Vajda suffered from tuberculosis. As a Jew, he was repeatedly drafted for forced labor service, and he was unable to fight the disease. The retrospective exhibition of his work at the Alkotás Művészház, a major venue in Budapest in 1943, revealed Vajda as the most original, visionary, and powerful artist of his generation. He is now recognized as one of the most important painters of twentieth- century Hungarian art.

most important painters of twentieth- century Hungarian art. János Vaszary Born Kaposvár 1867; died Budapest 1939.

János Vaszary

Born Kaposvár 1867; died Budapest 1939.

János Vaszary studied with the famous nineteenth-century Hungarian romanticist Bertalan Székely. In 1887 he enrolled in the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, where he was most interested in modernist tendencies. In 1899 he started to study at the Académie Julian in Paris. He designed tapestries in art nouveau style and painted realist pictures around 1900, but became increasingly influenced by impressionism. In 1920 he was appointed professor at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. He developed his signature sketchy and colorful style reminiscent of Raoul Dufy and Kees van Dongen. He joined the KÚT (New Society of Artists) and was a founding member of UME (Association of New Artists). Having won several prizes in Hungary, he was awarded with the Gold Medal in Genoa in 1929.

Contributors

Éva Forgács

Éva Forgács is an art historian and critic. She graduated from the Eötvös Loránd University and earned her PhD in art history at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She was a professor on the faculty of László Moholy-Nagy University in Budapest, and now is adjunct professor at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. Forgács is the author of many essays on Hungarian and Central European art in a number of anthologies and journals such as ArtForum, Third Text, Centropa, The Structurist, ARTMargins, and Hungarian Art. She is also active as a curator and a critic and writes on issues of contemporary art. Her books include The Bauhaus Idea and Bauhaus Politics (1995) and monographs on László Fehér and other Hungarian artists. She has edited and co-edited volumes such as the ground-breaking Between Worlds: A Source Book of Central European Avant-Gardes, 1910–1930 (2002).

Steven Mansbach

Steven Mansbach, educated at Cornell and Princeton universities, is professor of the history of twentieth- century art, University of Maryland. He is the author of many scholarly books, articles, exhibition catalogues, and essays that examine the genesis and reception of modern art and architecture. For the last thirty years he has focused his scholarly work on the history, functions, and meaning of modernism in Central and Eastern Europe. He has taught art history at universities in Europe, Africa, and the United States, the Pratt Institute, and the Free University of Berlin, among them. He was associate dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., at various times, 1987–97. Among his many publications, he is perhaps best known for Modern Art in Eastern Europe: From the Baltic to the Balkans, ca. 1890–1939 (Cambridge University Press, 1999).

István Rozsics

István Rozsics, educated in Pécs in English and Hungarian literature, is a historian, consultant, and art dealer. He worked for Sotheby’s Hungary. He then acquired one of Hungary’s oldest rare bookstores, founded in 1896. In 1997 he founded István Rozsics Gallery, an important forum for Hungarian contemporary art. He has written about Baron Lajos Hatvany, the Hungarian writer and art patron. He has served on the boards of art and charitable foundations and was chair of the Supervisory Board of the Friends of the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts. He is an expert on Hungarian restitution cases. Since the beginning of the Nancy G. Brinker Collection, Rozsics has been its senior curator.

Michael Ennis

Additional

Project

Curators

Supervisor

Michael Ennis, educated in Oxford

Ágnes Berecz

in Politics, Philosophy and Economics is an exhibition specialist and independent curator. He worked for Sotheby’s London before founding his own company, Group Arte in 1995. He has organized numerous exhibitions, including Masterpieces from the Dulwich Picture Gallery Collection, Madrid and Bilboa, Spain (1996) and Highlights from the Van Gogh Foundation, United States (2000), among others. He has assisted a variety of museums with exhibition funding, notably The Phillips Collection for its exhibition, European and American Painting and Sculpture 1760–1960 from the Smith College Collection (2003). He is currently Director of Exhibitions for the Nancy G. Brinker Collection.

Sam Albert

Munira Alhad Hyder-Adam Publications Manager The Nancy G. Brinker Collection