Janos Gat Gallery has been introducing the work of Hungarian artists to the New York public since its opening in 1993. It presents artists and works little known here and overlooked in Hungary, mainly for political reasons, and whose importance has became increasingly apparent during the last decade.

Masterworks of Hungarian Art presents a history of 20th Century Hungarian painting through the works of four outstanding painters: László Mednyánszky, Lajos Gulácsy, István Farkas and György Román. In contrast to some of their better-known contemporaries, the work of Mednyánszky, Gulácsy, Farkas, and Román cannot be readily placed in the context of art history's established canons. Situating themselves between schools, in ongoing dialogue with various periods of European modernism, each of the four artists created a peculiar and visionary style of painting, which makes their reception and canonization even more challenging. Although their fellow artists admired them as the most consequential painters of Hungarian modernism, the insertion of their works into the story of European art is yet to be realized.

In addition to presenting a segment of Hungarian and Central-European history, this exhibition addresses the burden of the Twentieth Century as enacted through the lives and the works of painters. Not only did they witness wars, revolutions, the collapse of monarchies and totalitarian regimes, but each artist also chose to return to Hungary at the onset of one of the two World Wars, and, therefore, suffered a fate that can be seen, paradoxically, as both entirely typical and utterly unusual.

Mednyánszky, Gulácsy, Farkas, and Román were educated and well-traveled artists whose lives were divided between countries and cultures other then their own. The experience of nomadism and of exile is a condition that both defines their individual oeuvres and characterizes the connections and affinities among them. They were equally strangers and at home in Paris, Vienna, Munich, Venice, Shanghai and Budapest. Living in a permanent state of displacement in Hungary and abroad, they had to define themselves in relation to antagonistic social, cultural, and artistic environments.

Masterworks of Hungarian Art presents a selective history of modern Hungarian painting. The exhibition reveals correspondences between the lives and works of the four exhibited painters, and locates them in a space of in-betweenness: a fundamental condition, motif and metaphor of Modernism.

Masterworks of Hungarian Art

Masterworks of Hungarian Art

March 25th-April 26th 2003

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