Béni Ferenczy (1890–1967) was the sculptor in the eponymous dynasty of artists and one of the most outstanding masters of 20th-century Hungarian sculpture. Throughout his life, even in periods of adversity, he remained faithful to the values represented by all artists in the family, showed respect, humility and commitment towards work.
He grew up in Nagybánya (Baia Mare, Romania) with his brother, the painter and graphic artist Valér, and his sister, Noémi, who breathed a new life into Hungarian tapestry art. Their parents, Károly Ferenczy, the most respected founder of the Nagybánya artist colony, and Olga Fialka, who studied to be a painter, ensured that their children’s education was extensive, and that they visited the major centres of European culture. In a like vein, they instilled their children with a sensitivity towards social problems, which later led Béni to take an active part in the Hungarian Soviet Republic. As a consequence, he had to live in emigration for years.
While learning to master the intricacies of classical sculpture, Ferenczy was not left unimpressed by the avant-garde, and was most influenced during the first decades by Cubism and Expressionism. From the 1930s, he put his knowledge to use to make well-balanced sculptures of monumental effect that are informed by a respect for humanity, as well as medals, and especially beautiful graphic works. The personal tragedy he experienced in November 1956 set back his art for only a short time. Though he was paralyzed on the right side of his body, the desire to create was so strong he slowly learned to draw, and then even to model, with his left hand. It became particularly true of these years that art not only connected him with reality, but also meant a way of life and freedom for him. This was also why several writers and poets looked upon him as a model, and subsequent generations of sculptors consider him a trendsetting master.
Curator: Emőke Bodonyi