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Unprecedented Exhibition of Works by Hungarian American Photographers Opens

Hungary Today 2024.04.05.

An exhibition of the works of Hungarian-born photographers who emigrated to the United States and became famous there, including André Kertész, László Moholy-Nagy, Robert Capa and Martin Munkácsi, will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest from Saturday.

The exhibition features 170 photographs in collaboration with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

László Baán, Director General of the Museum of Fine Arts, said that the exhibition is the first comprehensive presentation of Hungarian American photographers. The majority of the photos comes from the Virginia museum, but images from a total of seventeen American collections, including the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., have been included in the exhibition. Photographs have also been loaned by domestic institutions, including the Hungarian Museum of Photography, and private collectors.

The exhibition, focusing on the period from the beginning of the First World War to 1989, features the work of 32 photographers and is divided into eight sections.

Photo via MTI/Hegedüs Róbert

“There is a place for photography in our institution, as several previous successful exhibitions have shown.

I am delighted that in 2025 the National Museum of Photography will open on the edge of the City Park,

which will be part of the institutional system of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hungarian National Gallery“, emphasized László Baán.

One of the curators of the photo exhibition, Alex Nyerges, director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, has been studying the oeuvre of Hungarian American photographers for a decade, and his research is being presented for the first time in Budapest. “No other country’s photographers have had as great an impact on 20th-century photography as the Hungarians. As Robert Capa once jokingly said: It’s not enough to have talent, you also have to be Hungarian,” he recalled.

He noted that

André Kertész, Robert Capa, László Moholy-Nagy, György Kepes are known to everyone, and this exhibition will also present the works of those who are unknown to the public.

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The other curator, Péter Baki, director of the Hungarian Museum of Photography, said at the guided tour: the exhibition starts with a picture taken by André Kertész in Budapest in 1914. As he pointed out, Hungarian photography at the time was characterized by a transition between painterly influence and modernism.

The following part of the exhibition focuses on Hungarians in Paris – Alex Nyerges points out that many women photographers, including Anna Varga, Camilla “Ylla” Koffler and Anna Barna, became prominent artists there in the 1920s and ’30s.

The section focusing on reportage photography features the war correspondent Robert Capa, and László Kondor, who took photographs during the Vietnam War and later returned to Hungary, where he still lives today.

Robert Capa: The Falling Soldier (full title: Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death, Cerro Muriano, September 5, 1936. Photo via MTI/Hegedüs Róbert

The most extensive part of the exhibition, entitled Hungarians in New York, features a series of fifteen polaroids by André Kertész, depicting his depression after the death of his wife. The Hungarians in Chicago section is dominated by photographs by György Kepes, reflecting modernity in the 1950s and 1960s. The final image of the exhibition was by Nicholas Muray, who portrayed his love in his photo of Frida Kahlo in Blue Dress.

The exhibition is on view from Saturday until August 25.

Frida Kahlo in Blue Dress. Photo via MTI/Hegedüs Róbert

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Via MTI; Featured image via MTI/Hegedüs Róbert

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