Hungarian Surrealism

2019. 05. 25 – 09. 15.


Ferenczy Museum


Chief curator: Gábor GULYÁS, curator: Dalma EGED


25 May 2019 6 pm

The surrealist group in Paris dissolved itself fifty years ago. This major anniversary is a good opportunity to take stock of the tradition of surrealism in Hungarian visual art. How was this movement present in the artistic life of Hungary? What are those achievements that count as important even by international standards?
Hungarian art history writing has a penchant for calling important artists “unclassifiable.” According to the currently established canon of art history, most of the avant-garde endeavours that pressed their mark on the 20th-century visual culture of the West did not attain a significant presence in Hungarian art. It is the ambition of our exhibition to revise a crucial aspect of this consensus. The display demonstrates that while no separate surrealist group was formed in Hungary, the movement was not only present in the country’s scene, but also informed art that made a substantive contribution to the international success of surrealism.
The exhibition starts with two paintings that even André Breton, the seminal theoretician of the movement, considered important precedents of Hungarian surrealism: Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka’s Riders on the Seashore and Lajos Gulácsy’s The Opium-eater’s Dream anticipated much of what was to happen in Hungarian art in the next half a century. The organizing principle of the display is not chronological, but the works on view originated from either of two stretches of time that corresponded to the two great periods of surrealism in France, 1924–1944, and 1945–1969. Occupying all the rooms of Ferenczy Museum, this extensive display includes works that have not been shown publicly for fifty years.
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