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.



Born into a dynasty of artists, Noémi Ferenczy (1890–1957) was a Kossuth Prize laureate rejuvenator of 20th-century tapestry, an artist whose style inaugurated an epoch. She created an oeuvre that is outstanding by both Hungarian and international standards, and several of her works can be found in foreign collections. In addition to those she taught at the College of Applied Arts, later generations of artists also consider her their inspiration and guide, and the annual award that acknowledges the best applied artists is named after her.

Her father was Károly Ferenczy, a leading figure of the Nagybánya artist colony, her mother Olga Fialka, a highly educated polyglot who started out as a painter. Unlike his older brother, painter Valér Ferenczy, who was five years her senior, and her twin brother, the eminently gifted sculptor, Béni Ferenczy, she took an interest in art relatively late. At the age of 23, however, she was already at work on an early masterpiece, Creation. She chose to remain responsible for the creative process from the beginning to the end, from the numerous pencil drawings, colour sketches and cartoons, to the weaving itself. Throughout her life she remained faithful to the values represented by all artists in the family, considered work with respect, humility and commitment.

For the first time since the last major retrospective, held at the Hungarian National Gallery in 1978, we now have an opportunity to take a new look at the major phases of a life’s work, and gain insights into the process and stages of the creative act. With seventeen private and public collections lending us works, some of the exhibits are masterpieces that have been held in foreign countries for decades. This exhibition will no doubt throw a new light on Noémi Ferenczy’s exceptional oeuvre, thanks in no small part to new research findings related to works held at the Ferenczy Museum Center. This fresh appraisal gains additional nuances from the reconsideration of artworks produced by other members of the Ferenczy family.


The New Artists’ Colony of Szentendre

The New Artists’ Colony – an important site of Szentendre’s art scene, located on Kálvária Street – celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2019.
On the grounds of the New Artists’ Colony, which began its operation in the autumn of 1969, permanent housing with studio space was offered to young painters, graphic artists, sculptors, textile designers and ceramic artists (primarily married artist couples), by way of submitting an application. The new tendencies represented by these fine and applied artists, which differed considerably from the approaches taken by members of the Old Artists’ Colony – known for originally setting Szentendre on its path to fame as “the city of painters” – greatly enriched the local art scene.
The anniversary of the New Artists’ Colony provides the apropos for this jubilee exhibition. Through showcasing the artworks that have been created there in the past five decades, the show presents all the past and present members of the colony – the occupants of its twelve studios: Pál Deim, István Gy. Molnár, Piroska Jávor, Tamás Asszonyi, Margit Czakó, László Hajdú, Ildikó Bálint, Endre Lukoviczky, János Pirk, László Pirk, Krisztina Rényi, Márta Kisfalusi, Imre Kocsis, Eszter Kocsis, Erika Ligeti, Zsófia Farkas, Ferenc Kóka, Gábor Kapusi, Andreas Papachristos, László Rajki, Péter Rózsa and Kriszta x-T Nagy.


Szentendre’s Plein Air Exhibition in Rome

One of the most exciting chapters of modern Hungarian art is connected to the Szentendre Plein Air Exhibition, launched in 1968. When, back in the day, young, self-taught visual artists decided to create an exhibition space on Szendendre’s Church Hill for themselves and their peers out in the open, this counted as a gesture of special importance: they established a real perspective for freedom in a single-party state dictatorship [the Hungarian term for “plein air” (“szabadtéri”) incorporates the words “free” and “space”]. The exhibition Art Ante Portas, held at last year’s Art Capital in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Szentendre Plein Air, was a kind of homage to this exceptional forum – with the involvement of numerous artists who had exhibited there in the past. This year, on the 12th of October, Szentendre’s Plein Air Exhibition will make a guest appearance in Rome, in a street famous for its lively art scene: the Via dei Cappellari. It will feature many old and new exhibiting artists, including István efZámbó, László feLugossy, Imre Bukta, Zsolt Asztalos, Eszter Csurka, József Baksai, Ilona Lovas, József Gaál, Éva Magyarósi, János Szirtes, Barbara Nagy and Ottó Vincze. The exhibition, which will be realised within the framework of the Mirabilia Urbis festival, will, in accordance with tradition, only last one-day. While it will be centred on works by artists who were regular participants in previous Plein Air shows, artists that have been invited by the Ferenczy Museum Center are also represented in large numbers. During the event, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the saxophone music of Kossuth Prize-winning Mihály Borbély’s and Áron Tálas jazz pianist and composer’s duet.


The Martyrium of Ferenc Kucsera

Born in Léva/Levice in 1892, Ferenc Kucsera was a social person who felt that professing and representing the principles, doctrines and values of the Roman Catholic Church was of prime importance. In preparation for an ecclesiastical career, the young man ended up in Szentendre, where, in addition to serving as a priest, he also did some newspaper editing and taught catechism classes in the town’s schools. He was so dedicated to the cause of teaching children that, when the Social Republic banned religious education in schools, he gathered the youngest in his own chaplaincy room and held activities for them with music and drawing. On account of his moral principles, which he stood by with stubborn consistency, he was sentenced to death when the communist assumed control of the town’s governance: he was executed on 25 June 1919. The loss of the young chaplain who died a martyr’s death was experienced by Szentendre’s locals as a great blow. The town has cherished his memory ever since; his memorial cross still stands on the Danube bank, a few metres away from the place of his execution. The exhibition of the Ferenczy Museum Center commemorates Ferenc Kucsera’s life – from the perspective of the hundred years that have passed since his death.
In addition to the chaplain’s relics, source documents, period apparel, furniture, posters and weapons, viewers are presented with a sacred light installation, as well as two contemporary works of art that invoke images of war and aggression.
Invited contemporary artists: Frigyes Kőnig, Erik Mátrai, Ádám Szabó
Frigyes Kőnig (1955) is a visual artist with an interest in archaeology, whose painting series portrays a famous – and infamous – historical figure, the Bloody Baron. As a warlord fighting for a theocratic state – who was also referred to as the saviour of the Mongolian nation – Roman Fyodorovich Ungern-Sternberg met a similar end in his fight against the Bolsheviks, as Ferenc Kucsera. State prosecution sentenced him to execution by firing squad on 15 September 1921, to be carried out that day.
Erik Mátrai (1977) earned his degree as a painter, but he is best known for his room-size light installations. Of these, the work entitled Glory Cone is displayed at the exhibition. A halo, nimbus, aureole, or occurrence of golden light is generally meant to distinguish persons chosen by God. Depicted in painting as a disc or halo of light rays, the phenomenon here takes the form of a cone of light to be experienced by viewers within a meditative, intimate space.
Ádám Szabó (1972) exhibits his spatial installation entitled You Stand Here. The displayed mock up, which is part of his object series War Game, recreates the dramatic situation where the murderer faces the one he is about the execute. The true-to-life, hand-carved models of WWI weapons invoke the round of shots fired in the real scenario. Visitors, upon arriving to the installation space, can opt to assume either role.


Invisible Presence 2.0

To be present is more than being somewhere at a given time. It requires our full attention, commitment and empathy. How could anything engross us if we were incapable of identifying with that other thing, the situation of that other person? Hone your empathy and imagination, while having fun at the same time, at an interactive exhibition of modern and contemporary works of art, with presence, absence and communication as the main themes. At this exhibition, created especially for teenagers, works from the collection of Szentendre’s Ferenczy Museum Centre initiate a dialogue with the collection of the MAGMA Contemporary Art Space, Sepsiszentgyörgy/Sfântu Gheorghe, and, of course, with the visitors. With museum learning an important curatorial principle, the exhibition invites visitors to consider the questions posed by the artworks through games of association and a board game; together, we will try to answer such momentous questions as “how to explain what art is to an extraterrestrial being.”
The event is a follow-up to Invisible Presence. An introduction to contemporary art for teenagers – but not just for them, an exhibition and a related methodology programme, organized by Gabriella György and Hajnal Kassai, and held at Szentendre’s Barcsay Museum in 2018. The project, which looks to facilitate the reception of contemporary art, now explores points of contact between two geographically distant collections.
Exhibiting artists:
ANNA Margit | ÁSZTAI Csaba | BAKÓ Mihály | BARTHA József | CSÍKI Csaba | CSONTÓ Lajos | Petar ČORNATOVIĆ | CSUTAK Magda | DAMOKOS Csaba | ERHARDT Miklós | ÉLTES Barna | GÁSPÁR Csongor and SZABÓ Melinda | GYŐRFFY Sándor | HOLDAS György | ILOSVAI VARGA István | Kis Varsó | KISPÁL Ágnes-Evelin | KMETTY János | KOLUMBÁN Hanna | KORNISS Dezső | KÓSZA SIPOS László | KUSZTOS Attila | ORSZÁG Lili | PAIZS GOEBEL Jenő | Ivan PUIG | Sorin NEAMŢU | SZIRTES János | TAMÁS Attila | TÓTH Eszter | VAJDA Lajos | VÁNCSA Domokos | VERES Szabolcs | VINCZE Ottó | WANEK Ferenc


Endless Passage

Classic works of land art condense the almost ungraspable complexity of nature into a meditative format. The character of the works, which bring to mind the visual language of traditional cultures, is defined primarily by the choice of natural or semi-natural (mostly raw, unrefined) materials. When the tendency first appeared – in the late sixties – land art works mostly centred on the problematics of structure, material and scale. With time, thinking about nature became increasingly more refined. The activities of the artists’ colony of Tolcsva – the first such initiative in Hungary – have reflected the defining aspirations of land art since the nineties. The exhibition entitled Nature-Art, held at the ArtMill of Szentendre, showcases a representative selection – as well as an overview – of the artistic processes involved in creating these works.
Exhibited artists:  
Enikő Balla, Márton Barabás, Gabó Bartha, László Bodnár, Imre Bukta, Lajos Csontó, Ágnes Deli, Károly Elekes, István Erőss, Foster Colin, Endre Gaál, Pál Gerber, Krisztián Horváth, Zsolt Koroknai, Éva Ludman, László feLugossy, Ferenc Marosán, Henrik Martin, Erik Mátrai, Ágnes Éva Molnár, Rudolf Pacsika, Péter Pál, Pascal Leeman, Ágnes Péter, Attila Pokorny, Dimitrov Rumen, István Stark, Csongor Szigeti, János Szirtes, Filoména Thorday, Tibor Vass, Ottó Vincze, Tibor W. Horváth
László feLugossy: Endless Passage, 2013 © photo: István Stark


The Great Book Theft

In 1959 an exhibition of French books was organised at the Budapest Kunsthalle: by the end of the two-week show, most of the books on display had been stolen by visitors. Our exhibition explores this obscure episode of Hungarian cultural history, evoking the social-political context of book culture and fine art in the fifties. The show gives insight into the greyness of visual culture and the sense of isolation characterising Hungary in the period: the difficulties of accessing books, information and reproductions of artworks.
Many of the ‘thieves’ and visitors of the book exhibition sixty years ago were artists studying at the Academy of Fine Arts as well as art history university students, who would become outstanding representatives of their profession in the decades to come. The interviews recorded with them constitute a singular and colourful pool of resources about the 1950s and 1960s; excerpts from these footages are on view at the exhibition.
To illuminate the background of the book show, the exhibition reveals the development of French-Hungarian relations, which reached their nadir in the fifties with the arrest of French Institute personnel. Coming to power once the 1956 revolution had been crushed, the Kádár-regime intended to assuage its own isolation by launching international cultural projects: among the first of these was the exhibition of French books.
The French book show in Budapest and the display of Hungarian books at the Sorbonne can be considered the first episode in the subsequently intensifying French-Hungarian cultural relations. However, the vernissage in Paris was overshadowed by the retaliations entailing the 1956 revolution: French youth were handing out pamphlets amongst the visitors demanding the release of the Hungarian author Tibor Déry, who was spending his nine-year sentence in prison.
The book shows were engendered in the context of the Cold War. They were more than mere episodes of cultural diplomacy: they were the tools of “soft” power in a context defined by the rivalry and conflict of world powers. The exhibition exemplifies another way in which books were used for cultural warfare in the period: through various cover organisations, the CIA was organising and funding a programme in the course of which ten million volumes were smuggled behind the Iron Curtain, including Hungary, between 1956 and 1991.
Interviewees: Eszter Gábor, László Gyémánt, György Jovánovics, Károly Klimó, Márta Kovalovszky & Péter Kovács, László Lakner, Ernő Marosi, Krisztina Passuth, Géza Perneczky, Endre Tót.
Download the exhibition’s flyer and e-invitation from HERE and HERE.
© photo: György Sándor’s photograph, 1958, FSZEK Budapest Collection, Fortepan, image no. 116811