This wide-ranging collection by Éva Forgács, a leading scholar of Modernism, corrects long-standing misconceptions about Hungarian art while examining the social milieu and work of dozens of important Hungarian artists, including László Moholy-Nagy and Lajos Kassák and looks at several permutations of modernism, from the avant-garde to neo-avant-garde. A fascinating portrait of twentieth-century Budapest emerges from the book, which shows how it became a microcosm of the social and political turmoil raging across twentieth-century Europe. Forgács's text is as much a cultural history as it is a deeply satisfying dive into one country's unique art history.
ENLIGHTENMENT VERSUS THE ‘NATIONAL GENIUS’
Attempts at Constructing Modernism and National Identity through Visual Expression in Hungary
THE SAFE HAVEN OF A NEW CLASSICISM
György Lukács, Lajos Fülep, Leo Popper and the Quest for Aesthetics, 1904–1912
CONSTRUCTIVE FAITH IN DECONSTRUCTION
Dada in Hungarian Art
Hungarian Concepts of Constructivism as a Political Act
IN THE VACUUM OF EXILE
The Hungarian Activists in Vienna
EVERYONE IS TALENTED
László Moholy-Nagy’s Synthesis of Reform Pedagogy and Utopian Modernism
A FORGOTTEN GROUP: THE GALLERY TO THE FOUR DIRECTIONS
Theory, politics and the practice of abstract art in Budapest 1945–1948
DOES DEMOCRACY GROW UNDER PRESSURE?
Strategies of the Hungarian Neo-Avant-garde from the Late-1960s through the 1970s
“TODAY IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY”
The “New Sensibility” or “New Subjectivism” in the Hungarian Post-Avant-garde of the 1980s
DECONSTRUCTING CONSTRUCTIVISM IN POST-COMMUNIST HUNGARY
László Rajk and the Na-Ne Gallery
AN EXISTENTIALIST PAINTER: ISTVÁN FARKAS
Redress of an Artist’s Suppressed Legacy
MIKLÓS ERDÉLY, TIME TRAVELER
The Brittle Lines of Béla Kondor and Lajos Vajda
The Enigma of Being There
A MALEVICH REVIVAL IN HUNGARY DURING AND AFTER THE COLD WAR
István Nádler, Margit Szilvitzky, and the Quest for the Transcendental
“ART HAS BECOME A CHARACTER ISSUE”
Péter Donáth, and the Price of Independence
A Radically Open Budapest Archive of Experimental Art
A pioneering intellectual survey of Hungarian art in the long twentieth century. Populated by extraordinary figures such as Béla Balázs, whose dream of a great new Hungarian culture amounted to the founding of a new religion of art,” this authoritative book repositions cultural giants such as László Moholy-Nagy, Lajos Kassák, and György Lukács within a series of fascinating interpersonal, philosophical and political fields. Forgács also entices readers to engage with a host of less well known artists and forgotten initiatives: the European School; the transcendentalist revivers of Malevich; the exponents of the postmodern new sensibility’ of the 1980s; the post-socialist post-constructivists of the 1990s. She challenges canons and attacks key questions head on, provocatively exploring, among other things, whether or not democracy grows under pressure.” The culmination of decades of sustained research, this erudite publication is an immensely precious resource and a vital contribution to the further exploration of the rich intertextual fabric of European art as a whole.
– Klara Kemp-Welch, Courtauld Institute of Art
Éva Forgács is a brilliant guide to the history of modern and contemporary art in Hungary. These essayswhether appraising the achievements of Modern Movement heroes like László Moholy-Nagy or excavating the overlooked practices of neo-avant-garde artists of the 1970s and 1980scombine deep understanding of modern art with a critical perspective on the many myths which have been attached to it. Hungarian modernism now seems far more vivid.
– David Crowley, Royal College of Art
The leading English-speaking expert on Hungarian art from the avant-garde of the pre-World War I years to the present, Forgács is as astute in confronting Hungarian politics and the nation’s cultural development as she is at elucidating the nature of the artworks themselves. A dazzling intellectual performance.
– Marjorie Perloff, author of Wittgenstein's Ladder and The Vienna Paradox
Éva Forgács has a remarkable ability to condense her cosmopolitan breadth of scholarship into admirably coherent, easily comprehensible writing...We come away with the feeling that our time has been well spent indeed. Her publications exemplify art history at its best.
– Hattula Moholy-Nagy
Forgács' essays are shafts of light illuminating a complex terrain which is not only located at the center of Europe but, given the seismic political shifts that have occurred there, central to the history that defined the 20th century.
– J. Hoberman, author of The Red Atlantis: Communist Culture in the Absence of Communism
Forgács’ book can be heartily recommended to anyone curious about the history of modernism and avant-garde art in Hungary. It is an informative, readable overview enhanced with a variety of viewpoints and excellent examples. Most importantly, it takes on the task of familiarizing an English-speaking audience with Hungarian art. Forgács’ critical intervention is a first step in redrafting the history of Central European modern art, within which national art histories can show their own inner dynamic.
—Pál Deréky and Károly Kókai, ARTMargins
Forgács works backwards to trace the evolution of modernism in Hungary earlier in the century from her perspective in the dissident scene from the late 1960s to the fall of the Berlin Wall. She also wrote her history once transplanted to Los Angeles, a place where many displaced European modernist figures ended up earlier during and after World War Two, looking out over the Pacific and away from Europe. […] Everybody likes to visit Modernism Central (aka MoMA), but scholars love to rebuke what it stands for. [Forgács’s book] shows that modernism non-central is where this history was forged [and] that the wider transnational approach can transform perspectives on modernism and its histories.
—Andrew McNamara, Art History