Putting the ten most sought after French masterpieces of the Museum of Fine Arts (for example paintings by Monet, Boudin, Gauguin, Bonnard, Denis) up for loan to other museums provided us with the opportunity to substitute pictures that had been removed from the permanent exhibition with works that in the past had received an undeservedly lesser role.
In the compilation the parallel trends from other areas of Europe are now presented to visitors in a wider spectrum. In the cabinet series of the permanent exhibition on the first floor of the museum, the entire process of the 19th-century renewal of French painting spanning from Delacroix to Toulouse-Lautrec is showcased despite some works having been loaned out. Displayed to the public in separate cabinets are two series owned by the Museum of Fine Arts from the very beginning that up to now have not been on permanent display: Josef Danhauser’s historical paintings made in the 1820s for János László Pyrker’s heroic epic titled Rudolf of Habsburg, as well as the plaster reliefs by the Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen.
Showcased in the two large halls are works that grew out of the naturalism of the end of the century and belong to the international vortex of Symbolism and the Secession, many of which have been restored for the occasion. The artistic trends that were ground-breaking for 20th-century Modernism all over Europe are represented at the exhibition by artists from various countries (for example Arnold Böcklin, Giovanni Segantini, Franz von Stuck, Fritz von Uhde, Fernand Khnopff, Ignacio Zuloaga, and Ivan Meštrović). A larger selection is displayed of pictures conjuring up the special atmosphere and pictorial world created by some successful painters of Scandinavia, a region that grew into one of the prominent centres of art (Anders Zorn, Viggo Johansen, Pekka Halonen, Axeli Gallén-Kallela etc.). The vast majority of these works found their way into the possession of the museum, which opened in 1906, in the years just after they were made. Our being able to present a comprehensive picture of the international art of the period bears testament to the maturity of thought invested in contemporaneous acquisitions and the ability of the museum’s decision-makers of old to make sacrifices.
The curator of the exhibition is Ferenc Tóth.
20th-century and Contemporary Art
Outstanding works found in the Museum of Fine Arts’ collection of 20th-century and contemporary art – by Joseph Beuys, Michaelangelo Pistoletto, Simon Hantai, Eduardo Chillida, Hermann Nitsch, Antoni Tàpies, Magdalena Abakanowicz, László Lakner, Josef Albers, Günther Uecker, Victor Vasarely, Anthony Caro, Erró and Erwin Wurm, among others – is showcased in the Majovszky Halls, which have been converted into a sterile white cube. The works from the museum’s holdings is complemented by masterpieces of great value on deposit by prominent private collectors, artists and foundations. The sporadic nature of this body of works does not allow for the presentation of a comprehensive and complete narrative, which in the context of what might be called a post-narrative period, would be a futile undertaking in any case; each hall will exhibit a trend, highlighting particular motifs or styles. Providing a kind of methodological introduction, the works in the first Majovszky hall, including mainly conceptually conceived works that take an institutional critique approach, explore the relationship between the avant-garde and the painting tradition as well as the change in the ontological status of the work of art. This issue – which provokes self-reflection in the museum profession and is addressed from time to time by the temporary exhibitions organised by the Department of Art after 1800 – can be placed at the intersection of the collection of 19th-century art and the Old Masters’ Gallery; thus, it is also explored in the shows of the emblematic dossier-exhibition series and at the large-scale Cézanne exhibition, which can be regarded as a synthesis of the exhibition programme of recent years. Displayed in the other Majovszky halls in a flexible historical-stylistic arrangement is the museum’s prominent works representing early 20th century avant-garde trends such as art informel, action art, kinetic art, op art and pop art. The exhibition – following in the spirit of the eminent collector Pál Majovszky, who was a contributor to the museum’s 20th-century and contemporary collection and after whom the halls were named – also showcases foreign artists and émigré artists of Hungarian origin who form part of the international art historical discourse. The units of the exhibition are intended to function as “contextualising spaces” revealing complex systems of correlations and thus enriching individual works with new layers of meaning. Furthermore, the method of the selection and integration of the deposited works reflects the museum’s long-term concept in regard to augmenting its collection. The reopening of the Museum of Fine Arts’ permanent exhibition of 20th-century and contemporary art bring the following questions into focus: on what basis can the international position of this segment of the museum’s collection be defined and what are its prospects in the art world of today?
The permanent exhibition of 20th-century and contemporary art at the basement level has been slightly rearranged: greater emphasis has been given to the donations made by Victor Vasarely, and works by Marc Chagall, Corneille, Le Corbusier, Robert Rauschenberg and Timm Ulrichs are also included along with such newly displayed pieces as Renato Guttuso’s principle work titled Occupation of Uncultivated Lands of Sicily, Joseph Beuys’ famous bag object exploring the opportunities inherent in direct democracy, and a special lava stone sculpture by Antoni Tàpies.
Curators: Dávid Fehér, Márton Orosz