Sculptures, Objects and Installations in the Artaria Donation

Building D, 1st floor, Cabinet exhibition - 6 August – 24 October 2021.

The Artaria Foundation was established by Lóránd Hegyi in conjunction with artists and art historians. The objective was to fill a gap in the Hungarian art scene by creating a collection focusing on international contemporary art trends that had hitherto only been sporadically presented in Hungary, and to show these trends together with works by contemporary Hungarian artists. The collection of pieces by artists from Hungary and abroad was placed on long-term loan in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest in the 1990s, and in 2017, the entire collection of around sixty works was donated permanently to the institution. The works by Hungarian artists now enrich the Contemporary Collection at the Hungarian National Gallery, while those by foreign artists grace the Department of International Art after 1800 at the Museum of Fine Arts. The new set of almost forty artworks represents the most significant recent acquisition by the Department of International Art after 1800, and certain pieces have already been successfully presented – in the years when they were still on loan – in the museum’s permanent exhibitions of twentieth-century and contemporary art. The department’s current exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts also features a number of works from the Artaria Donation, including pieces by Michelangelo Pistoletto, Erwin Wurm, Anne & Patrick Poirier, Braco Dimitrijević, Otto Muehl, Bertrand Lavier and Erró. In 2019, we showed a narrow selection of paintings from the Artaria Donation. Following on from this, the present exhibition offers a selection of the sculptures, objects and installations contained within the rich collection of works, focusing on artists such as Lawrence Weiner, Manfred Wakolbinger and Motti Mizrachi.

Curator: Dávid Fehér

Co-curator: Dominika Eszter Sodics

Cabinet exhibition of the Collection of International Art after 1800.

Highlights, curiosities

Manfred Wakolbinger: Untitled, 1992

Manfred Wakolbinger produced his first sculptures in glass and copper in the early 1990s. The regular glass case and the rather organically shaped copper plate placed inside it conjure up such primary opposites as internal and external space, hot and cold, transparent and opaque, intellectual and emotional, and open and closed. Unlike the glass sheets, with their neutral, industrial geometry, the copper surfaces of his sculptures bear the imprint of metal being worked by hand. The directness in this, together with the patination of the copper, which is gradually becoming increasingly visible, evokes associations with changes in the human body and skin, thus adding the dimension of time to the work’s field of interpretation. The sensory aspect of the copper is further augmented by the light and reflections permeating the glass sheets, which makes the viewer an active part of the sculpture, as it “expands” its own space. The space occupied by the glass case demarcates the “negative horizon”, a term that the artist borrows from the French philosopher Paul Virilio: the “shape” of the air between the object and the viewer, which, as the negative extension of the work, is a constructive factor of equal rank. With the complex interpretation of space in his meditatively toned works, Wakolbinger thematises with extraordinary sensitivity and purity the most basic question at the heart of the genre of sculpture.

Gianni Dessì: Red Picture, 1995

The trademark use of pure red or yellow as a fundamental element in his pictures became a defining feature of Gianni Dessì’s art in the 1990s. Around this time, he also experimented with ways of interpreting the relations between chromatic effects and space, and with extending the surface of a picture beyond the limits of panel painting. His compositions, as exemplified by the structure of his Red Picture, are arranged around a dominant and formally clearly definable centre. In Red Picture, the black centre is accentuated by the white bands that radiate out from it, generating a sense of circular motion, by the concentric shapes that intersect these bands, and by the rectangle. At the same time, the tense, architectonic structure leads towards a centre in which the rational rules of sensing space appear to be suspended, opening up a new, enigmatic dimension. For the artist, space is simultaneously a physical and a symbolic entity, which enters into a dynamic relationship with the viewer, so that the connection between the space of the picture and real space, between inside and outside, is in constant motion.

Motti Mizrachi: Shaping Thoughts, 1993-95

Motti Mizrachi has produced several installations and objects that are similar to the work entitled Shaping Thought, in which the items he utilises are arranged according to a rational, geoetric system, which lends a decisive visual-abstract quality to the simplicity of the everyday items, bringing their material characteristics and surface effects to the fore. For the artist, who has been physically disabled since childhood, the experience of constant pain, healing, transformation and self-irony all serve as particularly important sources of inspiration. The shocking or banal items that characterise his object art, removed from their normal context and often enlarged beyond their customary size, offer emphatic reflections on the fragility of the human body and on physical pain. His works often evoke associations of violence and aggression, while simultaneously containing the possibility of relief or release. Nevertheless, in Shaping Thought, the interpretation of the enlarged filing tools as a means of “shaping thought” cannot be separated from the social and political interest that plays such a prominent role in the Israeli artist’s work. In this piece, the metal files are accompanied by variants of the dumbbell-like object that appears in his œuvre in varying sizes and contexts.

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