Research Group of Art Historiography

Head of the Reserch Group: Gábor Pataki, Csilla Markója 
 
Members: Katalin Aknai, Hajnalka Ágnes Nováky, Gábor György Papp,  Katalin Gellér, István Bardoly, Ferenc Gosztonyi, János Végh, Gergely Barki, Orsolya Hessky, Veronika Darida, Gellér Katalin, Végh János, Ágnes Körber and Éva Forgács (Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, USA).

 

Apart from the monographic investigations dealing with Hungarian art from the 20th century, the research group focused on the 1960s, a decade that plays a key role in the era. Within this theoretical context we participated in the editorial process of a collection of English-language studies published by Thames and Hudson, in the compilation of scientific catalogues of the exhibitions dealing with the aforementioned period, in the exploration of artistic resistance within the framework provided by the COURAGE-project and in the investigation of certain, specific research areas of the topic. In the area of disciplinary history, we focused on the significant developments of the first half of the century, on the different affiliations with the Vienna School, on the art-sociological approach and on the issues connected to the concept of national art. We published Hungarian and English-language papers dealing with these questions, including editions of primary sources and document-collections. Art that was conceived in Hungary, Hungarian art, its history and the related artworks, documents, databases form an inherent and unalienable part of Hungarian culture and national identity. Therefore their preservation, research, processing and publishing is an evident and laborious social responsibility. This also applies to 20th century and contemporary art. The research conducted by the group - that is unmatched in Hungary due to its scientific organisation – is a significant contribution to the preservation of the values of built environments, and also to the interpretation of the highly valuable collection of artworks that were conceived in the 20th century, including their evaluation and place in the social and cultural sphere. The dissemination of scientific knowledge and the communication of the research results for a wider audience is an important task for the research group. This entails a special type of responsibility as we have to also bring the art of the 20th century and contemporary art closer to our audience, apart from the more easily accessible classical artworks. According to this goal, our contributors organise a big number of exhibitions, openings, exhibition tours, furthermore, they hold presentations and write articles that popularise the topics. (Vajda Lajos exhibition in Szentendre, exhibition dealing with the 1960s in the Hungarian National Gallery). The contributors also teach at multiple universities and colleges and are members of different professional bodies. The work done by the research group forms an inherent part of the preservation, recording and scientific interpretation of the national cultural heritage. This places further responsibility on the contributors who concentrate on 20th century and contemporary art, as there is a significant increase in the research, processing and structuring of materials connected to the artworks in this case, compared to previous eras. The interpretation and processing of these documents is a vital part of the active preservation of the national cultural heritage. This is the only research group of its kind in the country, meaning it plays a critical role in aiding the theoretical and practical work done in museums and other cultural institutions and in the coordination of distinctive research projects.

 

The Research Group on Art Historiography ‒ in collaboration with the Hungarian periodical of the theory and history of art „Enigma” which is mainly devoted to publishing diaries, letters, and other sources ‒ edited vols. I-V of Great figures of Hungarian art historiography. The group has many publications in the research field of the Hungarian art historiography of the 20th century, e.g. on the Sunday Circle, Arnold Hauser, Anna Zádor, Tibor Gerevich, Lajos Fülep, János (Johannes) Wilde, Charles (Károly) Tolnai, János György Szilágyi, Ernő Kállai etc. The four-volume source edition that appeared as numbers 83-86 of Enigma, comprising diverse letters, writings and other documents of the ‒ as a Michelangelo scholar later world famous ‒ art historian János (Johannes) Wilde offers an insight into the everyday life of the Vienna School of Art History (Wiener Schule) and into Hungarian−Austrian scholarly interactions. It also sheds light on the so-far little-known connections between the post-World War I wave of emigration and the art patronising Austrian aristocrats on the one hand and the so-far almost overlooked profound, professional and personal relationship between Wilde and Max Dvořák to which – on Wilde’s part – we owe nothing less than the edition, publication and interpretation of Dvořák’s legacy in terms of the history of ideas. The first three volumes of Enigma include the letters relevant to the Vienna School and Dvořák, complemented with letters by Wilde’s friends, art historians, philosophers, etc. – among others László Éber, Béla Fogarasi, Edith Hoffmann, Karl Maria Swoboda, Simon Meller, Elek Petrovics, József Balogh, Károly Tolnai – written to János Wilde. The fourth volume of Enigma is an unique document from 1944: the record of siege of Budapest written in the form of epistolary diaries by the Wilde siblings back in Hungary, reporting on the German occupation of Budapest, the situation of the Jews and the days of the siege.

The forthcoming issue delivers a range of new material that casts a different light on Arnold Hauser’s (1892–1978) development in the history and theory of art. It is committed to the idea that Hauser’s early works bear witness not only to his Budapest apprenticeship with Georg Lukács and to his close friendship with Karl Mannheim but, partly, also to his later (and relatively well-known) insights into the social embeddedness of art and literature. A great deal of the texts published in Enigma no. 91. (2017) were written between 1911 and 1913 for a daily newspaper of Hauser’s hometown, Temesvár (now the Romanian city of Timisoara). Hauser functioned as the Budapest correspondent on matters of arts and literature, before even making personal contact with Lukács and his entourage in the difficult context of the First World War. This collection of articles provides a mixed corpus of daily art criticism and philosophical essays underpinning the hypothesis that Hauser joined the anti-impressionist (as it is generally conceived) movement of Hungarian intellectuals, who were interested in the meaning of art and not in the problems of the artists. A series of other documents and archival records complement this reader: a selection of his letters to various colleagues and notable persons of his era (like Thomas Mann or Georg Lukács); his curricula vitae reflecting on the development of his thinking; and last but not least, an interview with Hauser’s widow, Rózsa Borus on his development as a young man and his affinities with the societal dimension of life. This reader is a joint product of the Research Group for the History of Art Historiography at the Institute of Art History, and the MTA Lendület Morals and Science Research Group at the Institute of Philosophy.

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