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In public consciousness, Károly Ferenczy’s name has been closely associated with the Nagybánya artists’ colony (presently Baia Mare, Romania) ever since the latter was established in 1896. As the father of Hungarian impressionism and post-impressionism, and as an outstanding artist and leading master of the artists’ colony, Ferenczy has rightfully been regarded as the founder of modern Hungarian painting.
The Nagybánya paintings, in which he captured the natives of the town and the surrounding countryside, together with the magical light and colour conditions of the place, make up a considerable portion of his oeuvre. At the same token, however, we ought to point out that Ferenczy’s artistic legacy is far too complex and refined, so that it requires a many-sided critical approach, not only from the viewpoint of professional art critics, but also from the perspective of the lay public interested in Hungarian culture, both in Hungary and abroad. In the long process from which modern Hungarian painting finally emerged, the breadth of Ferenczy’s artistic output, along with the versatility of both his personality and his professional career and the exemplary nature of his artistic demeanor opened up several new vistas for his followers. The exhibition will enable the visitors to appreciate the enormous amount of accomplishments, for which 20thcentury modernism is indebted to Ferenczy, who, while attempting to solve problems very similar to those that his German, French or American colleagues were also struggling with at the time, managed to produce one of the most specifically oeuvres.
The fact that nearly a century has now passed since the last time that a collection of Károly Ferenczy’s finest paintings were put on public display means that several generations have grown up without having any opportunity to encounter this matchless oeuvre in its entirety.
The exhibition in the Hungarian National Gallery will feature compositions lent by several public collections both within and without Hungary, with an additional about 60 masterpieces borrowed from private collections making the selection even more complete. On top of the nearly 150 paintings and 80 prints and drawings exhibited, there will be approximately 50 documents (photographs, letters, catalogues and books) to help visitors form a more complete picture of Ferenczy’s art.
Rather than focusing on the chronological order of the artworks and the subsequent stylistic periods, the exhibition attempts to dissect the oeuvre along easily separable painterly motifs. The curators have arranged the material into eight large thematical groups, which have been further divided into even more refined thematical subgroups. These include, among others, the following themes: Self-Portraits, Early Genre Painting, Nagybánya – Landscapes and Humans, Portraits, The World of the Painter’s Studio, Biblical Compositions, The Ferenczy Family, Creative Process and the Prints and Drawings.
The exhibition is accompanied by a lavishly produced, scholarly catalogue, in which Ferenczy’s various artistic periods are discussed by art historians specializing in this era, and which contain a comprehensive list of the artist’s paintings, prints and drwaings – complete with reproductions as well as detailed provenance and bibliographical information.
The exhibition has been co-curated by art historians Judit Boros and Edit Plesznivy.