Barcsay 120

Barcsay 120

Jenő Barcsay’s (1900–1988) oeuvre is defined by his constant experimentation in painting. As one of the most prominent figures of 20th-century Hungarian painting, his artistic perspective culminated in a synthesis of his respect for the classical traditions on the one hand, and the momentum of modern tendencies on the other. An artist of Transylvanian origins, Barcsay studied at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, followed by travels to Paris and Italy on scholarship. It was these experiences, along with his visits to several artists’ colonies in Hungary, that helped shape his unique, abstract style. By creating a tension between a perspective of space based purely on what is seen, geometric construction and figurativity, the artist left an unparalleled oeuvre behind. In addition to painting, he had a significant body of graphic and mural works as well. Between 1945 and 1975, as a professor at the Academy, he passed his in-depth knowledge and skill of representing the human figure onto several generations of artists. His volume entitled Anatomy for the Artist has been translated to fifteen languages and remains an authoritative textbook in art education to this day. As of 1929, he became a member of the Society of Szentendre Painters and the Artists’ Colony of Szentendre. The motifs which Barcsay sought as he wandered Szentendre’s cobblestoned streets – and which were present throughout his entire body of work – were inspired by the vistas of the Danube River town with its narrow passageways and atmospheric buildings.

Barcsay bequeathed a nearly 200-piece selection of his oeuvre to the Ferenczy Museum Center in 1977. On the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the artist’s birth, FMC presents a selection from its Barcsay Collection.



“One of the most talented of short story writers in Hungarian literature”; “a faultless writer”; “she is among our richest and most perfect storytellers”. Thus, did Gyula Illyés, György Rónay and István Vas praise Erzsébet Kádár’s (1901–1946) writing accomplishments. Everyone was appreciative of her small but outstanding output even during her lifetime, not only after her tragic death at such a young age.
She had not intended to be a writer, but a painter, with her works critically acknowledged at several major exhibitions. But after working for some time in journalism and launching a literary career, she gave up fine arts for good, so she could devote her talent and energies entirely to writing. This was when she adopted Kádár as her pen name, instead of the original Csernovics, which has had a familiar ring in Szentendre for many generations.
After a little over two decades as an accomplished painter, journalist and writer, surviving the damaging impacts of two World Wars, she died in rather mundane circumstances, – badly injured in a traffic accident, then killed by a leaking domestic gas stove -, at the age of only 45.
Therefore, the exhibition can present the exceptionally talented writer and artist in harness, allowing the prediction of István Vas about her oeuvre to be fulfilled,
“It can be neither continued nor forgotten.”
Erzsébet Kádár started as a painter from her teenage years. Her early endeavours were supported by her family and she took private drawing lessons as a child.
In autumn 1924 she enrolled in the College of Fine Arts where she became a pupil of István Szőnyi. She was able to study only for three terms and later she could only participate in lessons at free schools and on evening classes. She was influenced by Béla Iványi-Grünwald, Jenő Feiks and especially Vilmos Aba-Novák. She contacted the Szinyei Society and, at their exhibitions for works by young artists, hers received special mention on several occasions between 1926 and 1933.
Among others, she exhibited with the artists who founded the Society of Szentendre Painters, and she let herself be enticed to paint Szentendre scenes. She did not join any of the groups that regularly visited the town to paint it, but it is not difficult to see the works she made there as being in the same vein as the then emerging “Szentendre painting.”
At the beginning of her literary career in 1936 she gave up fine arts for good and devoted her talent entirely to writing.
Only two dozen oil paintings and some a hundred drawings and studies survive to this day. Munkái néha felbukkannak aukciókon, de többségüket családja, illetve az OSZK és a PIM gyűjteménye őrzi.
Her text, A Town Standing Model, reveals a painter and writer with inguisitive eyes who lays bare her subject, the modestly concealed family ties, and Szentednre in the days of yore.
In 1931 Erzsébet Csernovics joined Budapesti Hírlap as an illustrator. There, she was surrounded by an inspiring literary milieu.
She gradually became a journalist at the paper, supplementing her drawings with increasingly lengthy texts, until she ended up with her own column.
Erzsébet had written only a few short stories when she won the Nyugat contest at the end of 1936. But she never was a prolific writer. Writing for her was agony and difficult. Over a decade only 25 to 30 of her short stories were published, yet they are all quintessential works.
The themes of her short stories came from her own milieu, yet beyond describing its decaying gentry world, the psychological abuse, physical violence and creeping fear that is integral to it, she ultimately reveals the dark reality of its moral uncertainties. Tragedies are brewing in every story. The surface may appear calm, but below, the world of make-believe burdened with suppression and destructive forces, is to be found bubbling in its depths.
The exhibition is an adaptation of the Petőfi Literary Museum’s exhibition under the same title.


Vivid Void

Art was always important for Mária Marghescu: after grammar school, she registered at both the medical university and the College of Applied Arts. In Paris, the heart of modern art at the time, she moved in artistic circles, and developed good relationships she could later rely on as a gallery owner. She curated her first exhibition, for painter József Breznay, in Marburg; entitled Künstlerkreis (Artistic Circle), it was held in a private home. After moving to Munich, she opened a gallery, called Grafinger Kunstkabinet, in the nearby small town of Grafing. She went on to establish the Galerie Marika Marghescu in Hanover. Her galleries presented the works of some of the leading European contemporaries (Joan Miró, Pierre Alechinsky, Gerhard Hoehme, Antoni Tàpies, Eduardo Chillida, Günther Uecker), Hungarian émigré artists (Sándor Hollán, János Bér, Anna Márkus, István Hajdu), as well as ones based in Szentendre (Pál Deim, Attila Orbán, Teréz Urbán) and elsewhere in Hungary. Artist’s books, by creators from Tàpies through Walter de Maria to Anna Márkus, also form an important part of the Marghescu Collection.
Throughout her life and career, Mária Marghescu has been searching for the meaning of life, has been moved by a desire to create harmony—something that marks the pieces in the collection. She found her answers in faith, the texts of mystics, the arts, and later, inspired by the works and writings of Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies, in Eastern philosophy, Christianity-based Zen meditation, and from the 1980s, in the works of Béla Hamvas.
With a small segment of what is a lavish array of art, Ferenczy Museum now offers an introduction to the Marghescu Collection through works by three important Hungarian émigré artists – János Bér, Alexandre Hollan and Anna Mark –, which their owner donates to the museum.
Alexandre Hollan (1933–)
The art of the 20th century was defined by those who moved away from the traditions—or who rediscovered them. Alexandre Hollan models his own art on that of Cézanne, Giacometti and Morandi, while guarding the autonomy he creates in the act.
Hollan himself is an heir to the tradition that has sought to capture change in the constancy of nature.
Alexandre Hollan travelled through Europe from Scotland to Tuscany, drawing landscapes everywhere he went. From the 1960s, he explored the French countryside. He spent the summer months away from home, sleeping in his car, contemplating and studying nature, drawing and painting, searching for the motif that could be the starting point for his works.
The key objective of his art is to make the experience of seeing more profound, the viewer more conscious of the experience: by choosing to make dominant one of the elements of space, matter, light, movement or time, he creates, on each occasion, a different image of the same motif.
His essential motif is the tree, which he usually approaches in a series of Chinese ink or charcoal drawings.
His outlook changed in the early 1970s, and the white of the paper gained predominance. He put an end to his roaming life in 1984, and his work became slower, more concentrated. He also began to paint still lifes, whose palette moved towards complete darkness, opening the way to a deep inner world. Hollan accompanies his works with notes, in which he analyses the different formal possibilities inherent in viewing and contemplation.
János Bér (1937–)
The young generation of Paris painters that came to the fore after 1945 broke with the notion of the painting as a window onto the world, or something offering insights into its palpable phenomena; it also rejected the rigorous, rational modelling of geometrical abstraction. These artists treated the canvas as a stage where the trembling of humans who had survived the Second World War was acted out under the dominance of shapeless abstraction.
János Bér studied art in Hungary and France, and became associated with galleries in Paris and Hanover. He is one of those Hungarian artists whose careers developed, for decades, independently of the scene of their homeland. Jánost Bér found inspiration in Henri Matisse, Mark Rothko, Sam Francis and Simon Hantaï, and the problems he confronted in his work were similar to theirs. Formerly, those of his paintings that employed the collage technique gave an important role to not only colour, form and space, but to rhythm and movement as well.
With objectified representations of human space, and by referencing the foundations of abstraction, Bér explores the relationship of image, plane and space. In the late 1990s, white, the void, and absence, joined colours as elements of key importance.
For a few years now, the artist has been examining the possibilities of exploiting the scales of pure colours to the full, with white as the colour of the ground, on which reds, blues and greens are laid, black framing all the other colours.
Anna Mark (1928–)
Anna Mark was Róbert Berényi’s student at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts. In Hungary she was friends with such artists of the European School as Lili Ország, Endre Bálint and Júlia Vajda. When in 1956 she moved to Germany, her painting was still informed by Surrealism. In 1959 she made Paris her permanent home, and chose to re-establish her art on new foundations, turning towards abstraction.
For certain forms, Anna Mark applied paint so thickly that it gave the works the character of reliefs. These attempts led her to believe that she should give a key role to shadows in her works. Experimenting to replace oil paint in her reliefs, she settled on a mixture of marble dust, sand and synthetic resin.
Her works from the 1970s look like walls worn by time and other forces of nature—with associative experiences behind them that bring in mind the alleys, wooden gates and arches of Szentendre.
Her later work was to be greatly influenced by the photography of Lucien Hervé, and she set out to represent light and facture effects. The reliefs she made during this period became all-white.
To this day, architectural compositions are an important source of inspiration for Anna Mark’s work, yet the rigorous geometry and content of her works communicate the reality and inspirational power of the order of the world.