Photos by Brassai, Capa, Kertész, Moholy and Munkacsi from the Hungarian Museum of Photography
Text: Károly Kincses
It is a commonplace that in the period between the two world wars several Hungarians played a significant role in shaping the history of photography. It is also well known that the above mentioned photographers achieved success as emigrants, after leaving their home country for various reasons, while almost no one has heard of those similarly gifted photographers who remained in Hungary. We can say therefore that the above listed artists are represented by one or several, more or less important works in the majority of large photo collections in the world. Accordingly the photos picked out of their oeuvre and the oeuvres themselves are being researched in the world, if only in isolation, thus certain conclusions are canonised and enter the realm of public knowledge, while other truths are only of a peripheral significance. In the 16 years since its foundation the Hungarian Museum of Photography has worked and continues to work intensively on ensuring that these outstanding exponents of Hungarian photographic art are appreciated at their true value in international photographic art forums. We pay special attention to showing the Hungarian ties and roots of these photographers, thereby providing to researchers of other nations such knowledge that has perhaps remained hidden from their eyes before, yet are not unimportant when looking at the lives of these artists.
The exhibition organised in the framework of the Hungarian Month of Photography 2006 and showing the history of photography through presenting the five great Hungarian artists, is an interesting experiment that will be new to both the professional and the general public. We have tried to follow the carriers of these five artists who had greatly differing lives and working styles and were nevertheless linked to each other in many ways, by showing their works in a chronological order, in their continuity, yet thematically separately, as they come together in time and space and represent the events in their lives. We would like the sophisticated visitor to notice tendencies (without making them didactically obvious) that link these artists of Hungarian origin and roots. We can see how their carriers moved closer or away from each other in various periods, how all of them followed their own paths, while staying constantly in touch both intellectually and physically.
Károly Kincses, the author of the catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition emphasises the biographical parallels, focusing on personal relationships: how Kertész met Brassai, how Kertész or Moholy helped Capa, the relationship that evolved between Kertész and Munkacsi during his lifetime etc. All these tendencies, connections and departures are presented through the original works of art selected from the collection of the Hungarian Museum of Photography. Those who are not interested in the tendencies of photo art or general conclusions about life in emigration can see 250 superb black-and-white photos, including both world-famous works and pictures that have never been exhibited before.
Number of photos exhibited:
Brassai: 22 photos from the period between 1928-1956
Robert Capa: 58 photos from the period between 1932-1954
André Kertész: 71 photos, the earliest from 1912 and the latest from 1984
László Moholy-Nagy: 50 photos from the period between 1920-1936
Martin Munkacsi: 49 photos from the period between 1923-1962
The exhibition only shows vintage copies or subsequently developed copies, which however have been authenticated by the author or his heir. The catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition is illustrated by 140 pictures.