István Farkas

(1887 - 1944)

Farkas, like Avery, seems to have been equally drawn to the flattened planes of Synthetic Cubism and the broad expanses of heightened hues of Matisse; also suggested an interest in Braque's dense, generous manner of composing and his way of pulling lights and brights out of darks. What seems Farkas's own is a brushiness and delicacy verging on wispiness and the mood of wistful melancholy. An al fresco lunch party, painted in 1929 was at first glance sunny and robust with figures compressed into blocky planes brought close to the surface in a setting of springtime greens embedded in a matrix of brushy blacks.

Longer viewing made the pastoral idyll seems unstable. About a decade later Farkas treated the theme even more somberly as a group of figures relaxing in a rather bleak garden, a wide featureless space separated from even wider more featureless spaces by a fragile picket-fence with everything bathed in a rosy curiously gloomy light. The sense of impermanence and transience was heightened by Farkas's preferred medium of tempera on wood. His paint sits up on the surface, making brush marks into major events; the opaque tempera seems—oddly—almost transparent so that materiality and thinness compete for dominance.

— Karen Wilkin, Partisan Review, 2000


Forsaken World.
The Art of István Farkas (1887-1944)

István Farkas, one of Hungary’s leading modernist painters, left behind a unique œuvre that defies stylistic categories. This exhibition displays works from his earliest period, through his time in Paris in the 1920s and early 1930s when he was regarded as one of the greatest painters of the École de Paris, to his masterpieces of the 1930s and early 1940s that often seem to presage his own tragic death. The art and personality of István Farkas captured the imagination of French critics such as the poet, André Salmon, who wrote a monograph on him in 1930 in which he stressed the artist’s “ability to express dreams with the most universal symbols of reality.” After the death of his father, József Wolfner, in 1932 Farkas returned to Budapest to run the family publishing company, Singer and Wolfner. During his forced exile in his homeland, he kept pace with his Parisian contemporaries, and continued developing his unmistakable symbolic visual language – employing Old Master techniques in works that were pointing toward abstraction. In 1944 he was deported because of his Jewish origins and was killed upon arrival at Auschwitz. This monographic exhibition pays tribute to this great artist on the 75th anniversary of his death.

Inquiries welcome. Exhibition catalogue available.


Hungarian Modernist

"Between the two world wars, István Farkas created a remarkable body of work which today is largely unknown. Much of the acclaim he received from 1926 through 1932 as a prominent figure in the École de Paris was forgotten after his departure from that city, and upon his return to Budapest, he did not participate in contemporaneous groups or movements. Compelled to assume responsibility for his family's publishing company, he had limited time for making art. Nonetheless, Farkas forged a deeply personal and symbolic visual language during this difficult and ultimately tragic period.”

– Diane Kelder

Inquiries welcome. Exhibition catalogue available.


A Survey - Paintings and Works on Paper

“After the years of the Great War, after the time of the Fauve revolution, after the era of Cubism, after the brief, epic days of Orphism, Paris witnessed the unfolding of the genius of Farkas: a painter, scholar of his art, solid in craftsmanship, and marvelously impermeable to surrealist splashes—capable of invention in the way affirmed fifteen years earlier by the poets congregating on Montmartre in the magnificent and sordid studio of Pablo Picasso, with whom Etienne Farkas has nothing in common except this Luciferian ability of formulating dreams through the most complete signs of reality.”

— André Salmon, 1935

Inquiries welcome. Exhibition catalogue available.