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The Return of Victor Vasarely

Vasarely: Hommage à 1969 – Temporary chamber exhibition in the Vasarely Museum

Golden jubilee of the “state accepted abstraction” in Hungary

19 December 2019 – 1 March 2020

Victor Vasarely, the successful Op-art artist who lived in France but was of Hungarian origin, came to Budapest in the autumn of 1969. The purpose of his visit was to mount an exhibition in order to acquaint Hungarian audiences with the trend of abstract art he represented. The show presenting abstract art – only tolerated up to then by socialist art policy – was the first and thus far biggest retrospective exhibition, and last but not least officially approved. Vasarely did the preparatory work and was the instructor of the exhibition, while also being the star of the opening ceremony.

The exhibition opened in the Műcsarnok on 18 October 1969 and ran through 9 November. During this period of twenty-three days it attracted close to one hundred thousand visitors, which at the time counted as an absolute record.

Photo: Demeter Balla

Our chamber exhibition commemorates this event of fifty years ago with contemporary photos, films and documentaries, evoking the sensation the show created in those days as well as the controversial reception from the public and the art scene.

Anna Herskó’s artistic documentary is one of the highlights of the pop-up exhibition. The archive footage presents an artist designing his own exhibitions, taking us behind the scenes and sharing his ars poetica with a special intimacy: Victor Vasarely, an “unknown acquaintance” surrounded by an almost cultic reverence.