SUMMARY– 2019/2

Béla Albertini: The History of Hungarian Photography – 1920 - Part 4

In the focus of Béla Albertini’s series in this time stand the year 1920. The article concentrates on two main topics. In the first part, he introduces the reader to int the perception of photography through the book of Pál Nádai (Craftmanship in Hungary). Pál Nádai treated with the development of Hungarian photography in his book, and he drew very critical statements about the status of the art at the beginning of the siècle. In the second part of his article, Béla Albertini discusses the financial side of the photography ateliers using contemporary statistical data. The results are impressive, considering that the great economic crisis in Hungary in these years. It was caused mainly by the Trianon treaty. The author, walking through the event of the year, presents us with a noticeable context of an image of the Horthy family as well.

Tímea Bata: Uncut. On the collection of the country-side photography studios of the Ethnographic Museum

During 1921-22, nearly 25000 glass negatives were sent to the photography storage of the Ethnographic Museum from the country-side studios and photography shops of Hungary, doubling the then-current collection. This study describes the purpose and process of the collection and provides a list of photographers (74 photographers from 62 towns). This corpus, mainly created between 1914 and 1921, lacking data and sorted based ethnographic considerations and taken out of usage context provides a small but dense and layered cross-section of Hungarian photo history. The most important is its depiction of ethnography and traditional costumes. It shows how prevalent photography was among peasants and peasant-citizens at the time, the main occasions when they visited the studios as well as the catchment area of each studio in a given city or small town. From a photography history point of view, the collection preserves the negatives of studios from which positives are only available sporadically or not at all. The photos selected to go with the study show the geographic area covered by the collection as well as the variety of traditional wear and studio interiors.

Gábor Ébli: Hungarian, regional and universal context - Photo-based works in the Somlói Zsolt and Katalin Spengler collection

Somlói Zsolt and Katalin Spengler are two of the most influential figures on the Hungarian art scene. Zsolt Somlói is a member of the Tate’s Russia and Eastern Europe Acquisition Committee (REEAC) from the beginning (2012), and the couple joined to the Acquisition Group for Photography of the Centre Pompidou in 2015. Along with this, they initiated the establishment of the International Circle Central Europe, an expert group focusing on the postwar art in the Central European region. The couple as collector bought their first artworks in 1992, and from 1996 there are focusing mainly on the contemporary and the postwar art. Their collection is famous about the richness of the so-called experimental works from the ’70s and ’80s. The photography is not an independent part, but more than a hundred photo-based works are representing the tendencies and experiences of the Hungarian and the international artists. The horizons of the collection are rarely wide, we can find here works from South Africa as well, from Serbia or Russia. The writing gives an overview of the international relevance of the collectors, and from the other hand, he describes the historical and geographical dimensions of this collection.

Zsuzsa Farkas Zsuzsa: Hungarian Photography collectors – Interview with Gabriella Kristóf

Gabriella Kristóf’s collection focuses on portraits and visiting cards from the 19th century. Our discussion with the collector revealed a 21st-century collection method, the preferences and social circles of the collector, which both help her in her collection endeavour. The article is exceptionally informative since besides personal preferences, readers can find out about the fine details of 19th-century pictures, even posed pictures, that carry secrets about the society of the time, the lives of contemporaries, and the culture of everyday life.

Zoltán Fejér: The camera of Savoy

It has been long since we came across cameras manufactured in France in the photography history series; however, thanks to Zoltán Fejér, this article discusses the products of the SITO factory, founded by René Royer. The company was founded in 1947-48 and named Société Industrielle de Technique Optique (SITO) only existed for a short decade and developed its Savoy-branded cameras on a market where the international competition was quite intense. The article highlights the contemporary requirements for cameras as well as the obstacles that finally led to the unfortunate closure of the factory.

Kotzan Anne: Harry Gruyaert – Photographic attraction

When we think of Belgium, colours are not the first thing that comes to mind. Maybe this is why the Belgian Harry Gruyaert (1941-) was so attracted to colours. After finishing his schooling, he worked first in Paris, then in London; he was William Klein’s and Jeanloup Sieff’s assistant later became a photographer for the Elle magazine. He is one of the few who placed colour as a compositional element in the focus of his photographs. He travelled a lot, primarily in the Mediterranean region, continuously looking for naturally occurring views to capture. For him, the aim was not to tell a story but to capture an attitude to life through these views even if the views themselves were banal. His photos are also a strong statement - in a not so intrusive but firm way. Besides, we may perceive them as ironic, poetic or even devoid of illusions.

Gergely Kovács: Considerations about the art of Péter Kecskes concerning his Architects of Dusk versus the Envoys of Light series

Péter Kecskés’s latest video entitled by Architects of Dusk versus the Envoys of Light and presented in the K.A.S. Gallery is based on the artist’s New York experiences. In terms of genre, this is an experimental video that consists of still images. These superimposed photos were shot at three times in places, and Kecskés projected them much faster than in his previous videos. So this work, which has got a varied form of language and style, has a particularly cinematic effect. The sacred visual world of specifically profane themes is strongly bound of the earlier works of the oeuvre (for example Celesticon, Uranographia, Man of Light, Precession). Ultimately, this video is a universal criticism of commercialism and globalisation represented by the American city.

Márton Mészáros: Missing golden wreath

The literature dealing with Ata Kandó is snowballing. The latest addition is a book on the female photographer by János Bodnár. Márton Mészáros wrote a review of this book.

Zsolt Petrányi: Landscape photography - after a battle? - Hungarian landscape photography exhibit in the Kiscelli.

The Budapest Photo Festival organised a thematic exhibition in the Kiscelli Museum for the third time this year. This year, the two curators - Rita Somosi and Klára Szarka - compiled the exhibit from the landscape photographs of Hungarian artists. In connection with the exhibition, Zsolt Petrányi provides an overview of the role and types of landscape photography, supporting his thoughts with plentiful international material in the form of the essay. This essay points out changes in the concept of landscape, differences in artistic behaviour, and discusses the trends of contemporary approaches as well. A separate part is dedicated to the requirements resulting from changes in the medium of photography, which was an essential aspect of the exhibition as well.

Zsófia Somogyi: There is thick fog there, and time lost - about Gilles Roudière’s photos

Gilles Roudière’s photos, which were presented to the audience in the course of the Budapest Photo Festival, can easily be said to be dramatic. This dramatic approach is surprising from a French photographer in his thirties. However, this was likely the first thought of the Hungarian audience when they saw the black and white enlarged photographs. This interpretation by the viewer is what Zsófia Somogyi’s article deals with and attempts to explain, which presents several series by Gilles Roudière. The photos are surreal as if taken after some kind of doomsday, and we have to admit that this imagery is close to the visual tradition that characterises our recent past.

Rita Somosi: Behind the curtain - documentarism and the depiction of a society in the series of Ádám Urbán

Ádám Urbán’s, winner of the Rudolf Balogh prize, has been creating his series for years. The audience could have come across a lot of them in magazines, at press photography exhibits or last in the Capa Centre. Rita Somosi aims to provide a systematic overview of Ádám Urbán’s work, to give the reader a unified portrait of this creator, who follows the noblest traditions of dedicated press photography. Ádám Urbán creates his series as criticism and as a statement. Whether we are talking about the residents of the educational institution of Aszód or visual environmental pollution, which appears to be a more abstract topic at first glance. He carries the ethos of photographers who feel that they need to express themselves and their feeling of responsibility for others, the world we live in and even our shared future through their pictures.

Réka Szentirmay: Photo London 2019

Photo London started as a competitor to ParisPhoto, and it was organised for the fifth time this year. What could visitors see there; what photos did the participating galleries chose to put on display? What and who did the organisers try to emphasise? What did Hungarian galleries present at this international event? The summary of the fair was written by Réka Szentirmay this year.