Comment In previewing Home Gallery’s forthcoming exhibition of Experiments of the Avant-Garde (14 June – 6 July) I just want to put a feather in the gallery’s bonnet by praising its courageousness shown in its attempt to complement major public Hungarian art institutions in their effort to showcase the best in the original Hungarian Avant-Garde of the 1910s,1920s, and 1930s. Outdo them can Home Gallery owner Csaba Kertész certainly not, what with his tiny exhibition space and meagre financial resources. What he can do, however, is provide highly necessary, at times even essential complementary material, e.g. documentations (posters, photographs etc.) of the largely unchartered Avant-Garde theatrical designs of Bortnyik, Kassák, Moholy-Nagy, and the virtually forgotten dance experiments of Olga Szentpál, Etel Nagy (Kassák’s daughter), and Aliz Magyar. Apart from the show’s ample stock of Avant-Garde poetry books with their magnificent covers, and, needless to say, its inevitable sample of the high-priced artwork of such masters as Mattis Teutsch, Kassák, Bortnyik, Moholy-Nagy, and Uitz, this exhibition will surely go down as a very welcome addition to other, more generously placed and financed ones. For all its scarcity of space, the show’s scope, i.e. the fact that it bravely includes rather than omits, as is the habit of other, larger exhibitions, the theatre and even dancing, can fully testify to the true diversity of Hungarian Avant-Garde talent, something that not all curators can demonstrate for all their more copious resources.
Review Zsolt Mészáros: And Into the Fourth DimensionClassics of Constructive-Concrete ArtVasarely Museum24 May – 30 September Being the twin-exhibition of the Vasarely Museum’s homage to Victor Vasarely and his Parisian gallery-owner friend Denise René (both generous donors to various Hungarian modernist museums), this show owes its marvellous pieces not only to major Hungarian state-owned collections (more precisely, their storage facilities) but also to the private collections of Krisztina Passuth, Tibor Gáyor and Dóra Maurer, and the expatriate Szöllősi-Nemes couple. Curator Dóra Maurer wanted to refresh public awareness of the constructivist-concrete movement starting from the 1910s by including choice pieces hitherto largely hidden from the public. Excursions of Doesburg and Rodchenko into the realm of 1920s applied graphic art are recorded by the two classics’ commercially conceived advertising designs of a man straining an arrow, and several aeroplanes respectively. Two graphic sheets of a merry-go-round and its city surroundings drawn in a rayonist fashion in the 1910s represent the talent of another classic, Natalya Gontcharova. Hungarian born founding member of the 1930s movement Abstraction-Création Etienne Beöthy is showcased here by his exquisite spiral composition outshining the rest of the show by its fine yellows, reds, blues, and greens blending subtly into each other. It is the plexi-object of Victor Vasarely, another Hungarian-born Parisian modernist classic, that cajoles us into the fourth dimension courtesy its trompe l’oeuil qualities. Two lesser-known constructivist classics, Polish-born Antoni Starczewski and Armenian-French Léon Arthur Tutundjian convince us of their well-deserved place among the best by their grid structures, and their sprayed dense surfaces (1928) respectively. Well-known classic Jean Arp’s Configuration (1951) and Composition in Yellow go a long way to show that even organic forms such as that of a drop or a puddle have a place in a graphic art panorama dedicated to constructivist and concrete endeavours of 20th century art. The Open Structures Art Society (OSAS), the association behind many of the Vasarely Museum’s modernist shows since 2006, has done a magnificent job of stressing the durable importance of constructivism in our living art heritage. Preview Foreign Matter: „Surrealism” in the Attraction of RealityA Selection from the Antal-Lusztig CollectionMODEM Centre and Museum of Contemporary Art, Debrecen16 June – 31 December The entire development of 20th century Hungarian fine art can be traced through the enormous Antal-Lusztig Collection. The collection ranges from Pál Szinyei Merse through Csontváry, Gulácsy, Károly Ferenczy, Margit Anna, Imre Ámos and Lili Ország up to our days, to the works of Balázs Kicsiny and Hajnal Német. It includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and exciting installations of more than 300 Hungarian artists. Works from the members of The Eight ( the paintings of Károly Kernstok, Dezső Czigány, Bertalan Pór, Lajos Tihanyi, and Ödön Márffy), the Szentendre School (represented by the works of Imre Ámos, Margit Anna, Endre Bálint and Dezső Korniss) and the European School (through the pieces of Endre Bálint, Lajos Kassák, József Egry, Dezső Bokros Birman, and Lili Ország) are particularly dominant in the collection.
Péter Antal, the owner of the collection, deposited most of the 4 000 artworks in his possession with the city of Debrecen almost ten years ago. MODEM has already launched half a dozen shows to introduce the public to Mr Antal’s huge collection applying such weird angles as body language or even human mouths as appearing on the particular paintings showcased. This particular show is trying to charter the grey zone between „surreal” flights of painters’ fancies and the unshakable realism of life’s robust treadmill. I want to travel to Debrecen on opening day to inform readers of my upcoming Artguide about how this grey zone is responding to the spotlights.