MARGIT KOVÁCS


One of Szentendre’s most popular museums presents the oeuvre of Kossuth Prize-laureate ceramic artist Margit Kovács (1902–1977). The artist, who was among those who revitalized Hungarian ceramic art, donated the selection on view here to the Museum in 1972. Most of the works, over 300 in all, are figural compositions.
The collection presenting the oeuvre of the Kossuth-prize laureate master of Hungarian ceramic art Margit Kovács was opened in 1973. Originally built as a salt office, the 17th-century Baroque building of the museum later functioned as a post station, and then as a trading house, before becoming the home of the Vastaghs. The Görög Street facade bears a row of windows with trellises. In 2008 a new, multifunction wing was added to the building, the design of Szentendre architect József Kocsis. The motifs of the ceramic cladding of the Greek Street facade—the work of Szentendre artists Tamás Asszonyi, Róbert Csíkszentmihályi, Tamás Szabó and Zoltán Szentirmai—reference Kovács’s work and the Renaissance ornament on the corner of the adjacent listed building.
The style of Margit Kovács’s ceramic art changed several times in the course of her long career. Roll Girl (1933–34), which has associations to medieval sculpture, is a typical example of the expressive treatment of surfaces that marked her work in the early 1930s. Alongside a geometricizing trend (Gugelhupf Madonna, 1938), her figures became more and more slender, pillar-like, in the 1940s (The Good Shepard, 1942). By this time, the works, whose theme was biblical, moralizing or folk poetry-inspired, also employed matte, coloured engobe (clay coating) along with the colour glazes. Some of the works she made in the 1930s and 1940s, whose themes are biblical, are wall panels in a Byzantine mood (Annunciation, 1938; Last Supper, 1935), while the rest are statues made on the potter’s wheel.
She modelled her functional objects (jugs, bowls, vases) with unmatched ingenuity. Her Wedding Day Stove (1953) fuses figurative scenes with the folk ornamental heritage. In the 1950s, peasant genre scenes came to dominate her work. Besides the tile compositions and reliefs with genre scenes (Apple Harvest, 1952; Peasant Wedding, 1955), the same period saw realistically toned, large thrown figures (Spinner, 1953), which were in compliance with the requirements of cultural policy-makers.
The rustic statues and reliefs she made in the 1960s and 1970s from coarser clay evoke Greek mythology, archaic stories, and folk legends (Cantata Profana, 1969).
The first and second rooms of the museum present smaller sketches, the early years of Kovács’s career. The third room features her work in the 1950s, the forth pieces from her mature period. The vaulted basement of the old building, which is reminiscent of sacred spaces and has always been furnished, in accordance with Margit Kovács’s wish, like a chapel, is home to those of her works that follow the Christian iconography.
The first floor gallery of the new wing presents a reconstruction of the artist’s home on Pozsonyi Rd, while the room overlooking Görög Street offers an overview of the last period of Margit Kovács’s art.

 

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LEVITATION


Stepping into the courtyard of ArtMill, one can hardly detach oneself from the impression made by the ensemble of the ancient and the modern, the ruinous and the renovated components of the building – and this atmosphere also influences our attitude towards the experience that awaits us inside. This mood is strongly connected to a story that is by now half of a century old and which is constituted of the notions, concepts and struggles of the artists who live in the city and which was about having a high-quality place for exhibitions on contemporary fine art in Szentendre. ArtMill was founded with the aim of attaining this goal. In this context, a more general question arises: how can progressive artistic tradition be presented in a shabby environment, on walls that struggle with decay and in anachronistic rooms, and how can contemporary art be connected to all this? Of course it is about the city, too: how can a small town, which is on the way of becoming a fossilized open-air museum, reflect vivid artistic contents?

In this exhibition, three artists are reflecting on their relationship to the Szentendre artistic tradition; it was in this city – whole or in a part – where their art has become mature, but they aren’t closely connected to it anymore. Thus, they are able to see the place from outside and from inside for the same time, and their reflection also deals directly with their own artistic career. While searching for their path as artists, the ways of Imre Bukta, László feLugossy and János Szirtes crossed each other on several points during the last decades. The exhibition is based on the connections between these three artistic ways, mainly through new artworks which were made for this occasion. The three artists are related to each other primary through the fact that each of them has a characteristic artistic attitude, which are defined by irony and lyricism, and the use of video as a medium in a way which is primary based on an act of counterbalancing: a critical view of, and, for the same time, identification with the shabby, outworn and backward world along the duality of the living, fallible, suffering human body of flesh and bones, and of aestheticized, beautiful bodies.

The exhibition deals with the immovability and the detachment from it, the relationship between gravity and elevation. The possibility of levitation. The need for physical and spiritual, real-life and virtual elevation, the inner drive towards wandering and settling down. An old question needs to be actualized: where, in what kind of world is – here and now – the place of art and artists?

 

 

 

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CZÓBEL RECONSIDERED 2.0


The exhibition is based on the Czóbel-collection of the Ferenczy Museum Center, which brings together 160 paintings and more than 1000 graphic works, accompanied by loans mainly from private collections, but also from the Hungarian National Gallery, the Béla Dornyay Museum in Salgótarján and the City Gallery – Deák Collection in Székesfehérvár. Also in the exhibition, documentary films and interactive information devices contribute to a deeper understanding of the artist’s oeuvre. Certain sections of the permanent exhibition are rearranged on a yearly basis, others come to a renewal also in the meantime.

The exhibition Czóbel Reconsidered 2.0 is the result of the second rearrangement since the renovation. The sections follow the chapters of his career path in chronological order, from his early Nagybánya period through the fauve years in Paris, to his Netherlands years, as well as his engagement with the German expressionists, his return to Paris and the long period at the zenith of his career when he commuted between Paris and Szentendre. The exhibition features several works from the museum’s depository that previously have not been on display in the permanent exhibition, including several graphic artworks, which are now showcased in a separate room.

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