The art deco architect István Sajó was born in Debrecen, in Eastern Hungary. Despite a successful career in America, he returned home to the great Hungarian plain, where he built modern, exciting and spacious art deco buildings among the traditional, mostly single-storey, neo-classical houses lining the city’s streets. Sajó’s heart and soul belonged to Debrecen.
Having enjoyed great success in the architect’s home city, the exhibition of István Sajó’s life and works now comes to Budapest, to the Műcsarnok / Kunsthalle Budapest. The aim is to present an overview of his entire career, from American-influenced art deco complexes made of brick to smooth-lined, functionalist private and public buildings. Contemporary photos of his works – many taken by Sajó himself – and documentary photographs of how the buildings look today are accompanied by the architect’s artistically drawn freehand sketches and designs. One of the highlights of the exhibition is István Sajó’s stylised, theatre-like work room, fitted with art deco furniture and other objects of his own design. Visitors are invited to take a virtual walk among Sajó’s buildings, including the zig-zag stairwell of the Israelite apartment block in central Debrecen. Some of the city’s cultural and civic events of the 1930s and 40s are also brought to life with the help of archive newsreels.
Curated by Lilla Szoboszlai and János Térey