Shifts – Updated!

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Shifts – Updated!

The history of Hungarian art after 1945 is comprised of the oeuvres of interrelated generations, groups of artists, and artists who sought to pursue an individual path. The institutions as well as the exhibitions in which they manifested their principles played a key role in their careers.

The exhibition aims to provide a view of the period from three aspects: besides pointing out the simultaneous presence of movements and trends, and presenting exhibitions as part of the historical process, we demonstrate, through representative works, how the Hungarian art of the period was related to contemporaneous European trends.

One of the characteristics of Hungarian art after 1945 is that the various trends and artistic approaches did not replace but followed from one another. A good example of this is abstract art that emerged on the basis of the art of earlier generations, or the post-surrealist styles that followed the avant-garde tradition of experimenting, emerging from local interpretations as counterpoints to official art. The parallel histories can almost fully be traced throughout the past few decades.

The significance of exhibitions as key events of art history is also highlighted at several points of this show. This significance lies in the fact that exhibitions point out such commonalities relating artists that consisted in the closeness of their principles and attitudes rather than in their stylistic sameness or differences. This shows the phenomena or events in a different light, as instead of stylistic similarities, it primarily focuses on conceptual and theoretical links.

Demonstrating the similarities or differences of styles in the artistic practices of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s is especially important because while in the 60s and 70s, the dialogue took place between the avant-garde and the tolerated modernism of Socialism, in the 1980s we can observe the simultaneous existence of a new type of expressive painting inspired by international trends, and of underground practices prevailing among the artists of the young generation.

The title of the exhibition, Shifts, calls attention to the changes in the approaches to art, as well as to the role of the market in re-evaluating art, and the changes in the system of institutions.


Shifts – Updated!


The exhibition Shifts – Updated! focuses on recently made, significant acquisitions to the collection. Following a four-stage renewal, the exhibition presents a fresh outlook. Besides well-known masterpieces we highlight new works that make a definitive contribution in historical, genre, or thematic terms from the perspective of the past six decades of Hungarian art; that reflect on the unique Central European context of the Contemporary Collection (and thus of Hungarian art); and that modify, or even re-interpret, the well-known narrative of post-1945 Hungarian art.

Thanks to the gallery’s recent collecting strategy, which has expanded to include various different media, visitors encounter individual periods and tendencies via a broad spectrum that encompasses, among other things, photography, drawings, graphics, installations, and textile art.

In 2022 the exhibition is updated with the works of the following artists:

I. From 20 April 2022
György Kemény
Ilona Keserü
Dóra Maurer

Highlights, curiosities

Ilona Keserü: Picture Number Two, 1965

Ilona Keserü was a dominant, idiosyncratic figure in the Iparterv generation that emerged in the 1960s. In 1965, Keserü began to paint gestural pictures, which she numbered in sequence. These works can be regarded as early Hungarian examples of gestural painting. Picture Number Two (1965) is the second in the six-piece series. Recalling this period, the artist explained: “Turning my back on what I had learned, this was the first time I had produced a painting by choosing and inventing the technical components, and by bringing them to the surface...”

György Kemény: Hommage à Oppenheimer, ca. 1967-1968

György Kemény, who started out as a graphic artist in the 1960s, was the most consistent Hungarian representative of pop art in the 1960s, producing posters, object collages, objects, and panel paintings. Hommage à Oppenheimer is a complex collage in which Kemény combined photographs cut out of magazines (mainly Paris Match, which was available in Hungary at the time) with a variety of colourful objects. The result was a wryly humorous pop icon that “paid tribute” to the father of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, who had died in 1967.

Dóra Maurer: IXEK 22 / Disputa 1-6, 2019-2020

Known both in Hungary and abroad primarily as a representative of geometric abstraction and systematic painting, Dóra Maurer has been a leading figure in Hungarian artistic life for over five decades. In her series IXEK 22 / Disputa 1–6, the paper-thin blue, yellow, and red fields of colour that constitute the individual works bend inwards and outwards, move, merge, and intersect. Their frieze-like structure suggests a kind of theatricality. This “disputation” takes place in a multidirectional (body) language in which the shapes and colours interact not only with one another but also with the viewer.

Shifts – Updated!

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