Ligeti Miklós, one of the most famous Hungarian sculptor who was able to propose an autonomous and very particular style.
He accomplished his own studies either in Vienna and Paris, where he kept in touch with the famous french sculpture Auguste Rodin. As far as the works of Rodin are concerned, he was fascinated by the new techniques introduced by the french artist, specially regarding the very innovative use of plastic forms. In fact, Rodin tried to overcome the classic (greek and neoclassic) style, in which cleanness of lines and perfect geometric proportions of measures are absolute rules. On the contrary, in Rodin’s own works figures are cut off the raw stone, with either an hermetic and indeterminate effect.
And such a mysterious effect was achieved by perhaps the most famous of the Ligeti’s works, the so-called Anonymus statue situated in Varosliget, just in front of the Vanjauadi castle, finished in 1900.
Here the composition was effective in underline the unknown identity of the character (eventually, he was the biographer of king Bela IV , whose identity remained unknown until now, who wrote the very first known book in hungarian language, entitled Gesta Hungarorum) and in presenting the terrific efforts of the writings. The plastic figure wasn’t here regardless of forms and proportions, and even there isn’t in this work the indeterminate border of the raw stone, typical of many of Rodin’s works. Except for the face, which remains unveiled, the rest of the human figure was well sculptured and Ligeti paid attention to every single detail, including the monk-like mantle all surrounding the figure’s body.
The “Anonymus” sculpture was effective and impressive even at the time when it was installed. Eventually Ligeti gained a very consideration by his contemporary, too. As a consequence, he was able to find out several commitments for a considerable amount of portrait sculpture.
Beginning from the very link, Iranyi Gruenwald Bela (1901) and Rippl-Ronai Josef (1900) portraits are styled after the indefinite and indeterminate borders typical also of the Rodin portrait’s sculptures. On the other side, the portrait at the right (Kostolanyi Kann Gyulane, 1905was designed using much more smooth lines and naturalistic elements, more close to the typical styles of the Secession.
Not only portraits: the hungarian sculptor continued with his own experimentation with the stone material, in particular using the raw not yet formed rock as a sort of basement for its most innovative works, where evident is the influx of the Rodin’s own style.
That set of scultpures includes the Kiss (a Csok, in hungarian), otherway known as “the Love” (in hungarian, “a Szerelem”).
In this composition, the raw rock is used as basement for the love scene. Bowed to kiss the female figure, the male figure shows a very muscolar male body, sculptured in a realistic way, close to the canons of the greek or neoclassic tradition. Bowing his own strong body, the man is a surrender before the ethereal and sleeping beauty of the woman-goddess. The eternal and ethereal feminine is here used after Ligeti certainly studied works by preraffaellite tradition, which influenced a very part of the artistic movements in Hungary at the turn of the century. The female figure is melding herself with the raw stone, and the goddess like perfection and tranquillity of the girl’s face is contrasting with the indefinitiveness of the raw material. As a result, the composition is a mystical representation, in which the feminine resides upon a sort of altar (the raw stone, maybe a symbol for the inconscious and obscure powers of the nature), ruling through the power of her eternal Beauty.
Several works by Ligeti are now located at the Budapest National Gallery, and you can see some of them. I’d like also to let you know that a very interesting article on Ligeti is also available on Muveszet magazine, author Bela Lazar, volume 4, year 1905.