2023: Csontváry and Renoir

Last year was unparalleled in the history of the Museum of Fine Arts. Our Cezanne, Bosch, Matisse and El Greco exhibitions alone made 2022 a sensational year: in the past few decades nowhere in the world were museum-goers able to visit so many exhibitions showcasing the oeuvres of such outstanding masters within a single year as here. The special events attracted over 750,000 visitors to the Museum of Fine Arts, which was only matched in the institution’s history by 2007, the year of the Van Gogh exhibition.

 Csontváry 170
14 April – 16 July 2023

Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka: Ruins of the Ancient Greek Theatre at Taormina, 1905-1905, Museum of Fine Arts-Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

The 170th anniversary of Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka’s birth will be celebrated with an exhibition jointly staged by the Museum of Fine Arts–Hungarian National Gallery and the Janus Pannonius Museum of Pécs. The exhibition of the two public collections, which preserve the greatest numbers of works by the painter genius, will open in April in Budapest and then, from August, it will be open to the public in Pécs for three months. The selection of over forty works, providing a comprehensive overview of Csontváry’s oeuvre, will pay a worthy tribute to one of the most original and most well-known artists in the history of Hungarian painting.

The last exhibition devoted to Csontváry’s works in the Museum of Fine Arts was held sixty years ago, in 1963. Now, besides the best-known masterpieces of his oeuvre – for example, the thirty-square-metre Baalbek and other monumental canvases – the displayed material will be enriched by some paintings from private collections, including the Sacrificial Stone in Baalbek and the Sunset over the Bay of Naples, which were last displayed to the public in 1994, at the exhibition of the Hungarian National Gallery.

The exhibition will open within the framework of the Bartók Spring International Art Weeks.

Judit Reigl – Dance of Death
26 May – 3 September 2023

Judit Reigl: Wrestlers, 1966, Musée Maillol, Paris

The Museum of Fine Arts–Hungarian National Gallery pays tribute to Judit Reigl, born one hundred years ago (1923–2020) with her latest drawings hitherto unseen by the public.

The exhibition will present the last series of drawings by this outstanding figure of post-1945 European fine arts. The unrivalled graphic material is an inimitable visual chronicle of the artist’s life, summing up her productive years as is only possible when looking back from the gates of death. The works illustrate the fragility of old age with youthful energy: evoking many personal experiences as well as universal symbols and works, the Dance of Death provides a comprehensive picture about the life and oeuvre of Judit Reigl, and about art history.

This exhibition will be a homecoming and a testament in one. We will grant Judit Reigl’s wish by displaying her drawings alongside her favourite paintings from the collection of the Museum of fine Arts–Hungarian National Gallery. The film showing the artist working on her Dance of Death and edited using her last series of drawings will also form part of the exhibition. The drawings will be in dialogue with works by Cranach, Dürer, Gaddi, Goldzius, Goya, El Greco, Hans Baldung Grien and other masters, which were often admired and copied by the artist during her student years in Budapest. The show mounted in the museum’s Michelangelo Hall will also allow visitors to look at the masterpieces of our permanent exhibition in a novel way: through the eyes of Judit Reigl.

The renewal and reopening of the graphic art exhibition space
Opening: 15 June 2023

In the light of evolving visitor requirements and the altered dimensions of contemporary art, it was necessary to rethink how we utilise museum spaces. As part of the recent reconstruction of the museum’s building, the exhibition space for the Collection of Prints and Drawings has now been modernised.The renewed space will open to the public in June 2023 with two exciting exhibitions: one will present the history of the collection based on archival material, and the other will be a special show of contemporary German graphic works together with Italian Renaissance prints.

The new space, with its focus on satisfying twenty-first-century demands, offers an opportunity to present some milestones in the collection’s history. Aided by archive photos and documents, the exhibition titled The Magic of Paper. Snapshots from the History of the Collection of Prints and Drawings, examines questions pertaining to the genre of drawings and prints, the birth of the collection and its transformation into a museum collection, and the achievements of our predecessors in museology, exhibitions, and conservation.

The Collection of Prints and Drawings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest holds around 9000 drawings and almost 100,000 prints by international artists from the 1300s to the present day. Although the collection of prints and drawings is expansive in terms of both quantity and quality, only a fraction can be shown at temporary exhibitions because works on paper are too sensitive to light, heat, and moisture. Our current aim is to present a varied selection of our holdings encompassing both classical themes of printmaking and drawing and contemporary approaches of artists working in this genre.

Baselitz X Schiavone – Etched Across Time
15 June – 1 October 2023

What connects a contemporary German artist with one from sixteenth-century Venice? Can there even be a connection between two artists almost 500 years apart? Is it possible to uncover similarities in approach when two artists were affected by completely different social and cultural influences? Is there any comparison between a German artwork from the twentieth or twenty-first century and an Italian mannerist piece? By what criteria can one of the foremost creators of our times be placed side by side with an extraordinary Venetian master from the Renaissance?

The exhibition titled Baselitz X Schiavone is the first show in a series in the renovated exhibition space of the Collection of Prints and Drawings, aimed at promoting a dialogue between contemporary and old masterpieces. Our exhibition centres on prints by Georg Baselitz, who turns 85 this year: in 2020, on the 150th anniversary of the Budapest collection, the artist generously donated thirty large works on paper to the Museum of Fine Arts: a selection of these will be displayed for the first time. To place alongside Baselitz in this exhibition, we have chosen a sixteenth-century Italian master who is linked by multiple threads to the German painter. Our exhibition was inspired by an intriguing connection between the two men: Georg Baselitz, besides ranking among the very greatest living artists, is also a collector with a special interest in mannerist prints; his peerless collection includes more than eighty sheets by Schiavone. For this show, Baselitz has selected a painting he made in 2011, whose richly linear visuality makes it the perfect complement to his own prints and to Schiavone’s etchings alike.

The exhibition of sheets from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts will allow visitors an insight into the unparalleled graphic oeuvres of two artists active in two different ages. The displayed material includes more than twenty large works by Baselitz and almost thirty far smaller ones – compared with Baselitz’s scale – from Andrea Schiavone. This exhibition will be the debut for the majority of the sheets by both artists. Our selection focuses on their use of irregular forms: the exhibited sheets feature solo full- and half-length figures, enlarged body parts, paired “portraits”, or multifigural scenes. Works on paper by two unparalleled artists from two completely different periods are now being shown together, revealing that the supposed gap between “old” and “new” prints may not be so unbridgeable after all.

Renoir – The Painter and His Models
22 September 2023 – 7 January 2024

Auguste Renoir: Reclining Nude (Gabrielle), 1903, Museum of Fine Arts-Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

The Museum of Fine Arts in conjunction with the Parisian Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie will organise a large-scale monographic exhibition of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s art with his figural depictions at its focus.

After several extremely successful exhibitions devoted to prominent artists of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism (Monet and His Friends, 2003; Van Gogh in Budapest, 2006; Cézanne and the Past, 2012; Cezanne to Malevich; 2021), the museum will have Renoir’s oeuvre at its focus. Our choice is also explained by the fact that in 2019 the museum purchased the master’s late masterpiece titled Reclining Nude (Gabrielle) thanks to an acquisition of historic importance.

The first ever exhibition in Hungary devoted to Renoir presents his artistic development in chronologically and thematically arranged sections. The early portraits will reveal the change in Renoir’s approach depending on the status of his models (Impressionist friends and official clients). The exhibition will also explore the artist’s engagement in activities that were popular in Paris and its suburbs, while allowing us the opportunity to show how Renoir modernised the 18th-century tradition of the fête galante (gallant party). Different versions of his Young Girls at the Piano displayed at the exhibition will illustrate how Renoir depicted his models in interiors, while the theme of home and intimacy can also be seen in his family portraits. The many displayed nudes, executed between 1869 and 1919, will allow visitors to observe Renoir’s striving to integrate his models into landscapes as well as the evolution in his presentation of the play of light and shade on his figures from an Impressionistic to an artistically more coherent approach. One of the highlights of the show is comprised by Renoir’s nudes painted after the turn of the century. For the first time at this show visitors will be able to view together the French master’s three large reclining nudes, made between 1903 and 1907, one each from the three organising institutions.

Recommended exhibitions