21 Hungarian photographers from the 20th Century
A selection of the Körmendi-Csák 20th century Photography Collection
09 May – 07 July 2013
exhibition location: KOGART House – 1062, Budapest Andrássy street 112. HUNGARY
opening hours: Mon – Sun 10am – 6pm
opened by: Károly Kincses (former director of the Hungarian Photography Museum) and Colin Ford, MBE, photo curator
Collecting art is a way of life. This is exemplified by various exhibitions, which serve to introduce collections owned by individuals or families to the wider public. One such example is the Körmendi-Csák Collection, which goes back to the 1980s. Initially featuring only paintings and sculptures, the collection later started to incorporate other branches of fine art to include graphics, textiles and glass, and was first shown to the general public in the form of a catalogue in 1997.
Back then photographs were not considered to be objects that could be included in a fine art collection. Interestingly enough, looking back, photography gradually came closer to the focus of attention through other art pieces. Slowly but steadily it started to make its presence felt. The first ones to be included might have been photograms by Tihamér Gyarmathy, which he considered to be significant discoveries within his oeuvre, and he felt these were of equal importance to his paintings. We could also mention photo collages by Endre Bálint, Gyula Marosán or Mihály Schéner. These objects all display various forms of photographic expression.
The decision to have a separate section for twentieth-century Hungarian photography within the collection was made years ago. The curator for this project was photo museologist Károly Kincses, whose expert opinion helped shape this new collection in terms of both the artists and the particular works that were selected. The selection process was also greatly influenced by the Eyewitness exhibition held in 2011 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
This successful show, which introduced the London audience to the past century of Hungarian photography up to 1989, featured many artists who also appear in this exhibition. A few pivotal works were included in both exhibitions, including Demeter Balla’s Adam and Eve, András Bánkuti’s Dusk, Moscow, Imre Benkő’s Sculpture Foundry, Kőbánya, László Haris’s Unlawful Avant-garde, Gábor Kerekes’ 1 May, Péter Korniss’ At work, the rush hour, Budapest, György Stalter’s Other World, Tólápa I., Péter Tímár’s Crematorium and László Török’s Family. In London it was clearly demonstrated that the world class quality of Hungarian photography extends beyond the first half of the twentieth century to continue on in the decades following the Second World War.
It is an express aim of the collection to avoid any search for a central topic or genre and instead to let the photographers be free to reveal themselves through their works. There was nevertheless a need for an organising principle, no matter how loose, and in this case it became a technique and a time period.
All the photographs in the collection were made using analogue techniques – hence the title of the exhibition – and were made in the second half of the twentieth century.
The aim was to bring to life an expandable collection which provides an open space for the works of these photographers.
It is the first phase of this process, whose results are now shown to the audience.
The exhibition, which occupies two floors, displays nearly 160 of the more than 500 photographs in the Körmendi-Csák Photography Collection. The exhibition gives a profound and concise impression of Hungarian photography in the second half of the past century or, one might say, of Hungary itself through the works of twenty-one photographers:
Judit M. Horváth
The selection provides a unique perspective on the second half of the twentieth century through the documentary, avant-garde and other works of these twenty-one remarkable Hungarian photographers. The pictures by the individual artists are grouped in such a way as to provide an insight into the various periods or cycles within the oeuvres. We can speak assuredly about cycles since several of these photographers stayed with a given topic for years or even decades (e.g., Imre Benkő’s Ózd series or Péter Korniss’s Guest worker series) and, by so doing, documented the changes in the world around us, some of which prove to be irreversible.
When looking at the exhibition we are also travelling in time, recalling painful moments in our national history in a few photographs (Demeter Balla, 29 October 1956) or revealing the varied lives people lead within a single society (Judit M. Horváth – György Stalter, Other World, Budapest). Caucasus by Lenke Szilágyi, Abádszalók by Miklós Gulyás or Pie eaters by András Szebeni are connected by something found in many works of art – the love of life.
We might have been oblivious to solitude (Magdolna Vékás, Power plant – window with pigeon), poverty or lives played out in a decaying, vanishing environment (József Hajdú, Industrial landscape). Similarly, we should also become more aware of joy and the fleeting, comic moments in everyday life – the way photographers do and the way they have for decades past.
The exhibition and its catalogue are homage to the work of twenty-one photographers. We hope their future work will continue to enrich the collection for many years to come. We would also like to salute a receptive and open-minded audience since, to paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, terrible is the temptation to appreciate beauty.
Körmendi-Csák Photography Collection
A cikkben szereplő művészek:
Horváth M. Judit