The Nyugat magazine was one of the most influencing cultural, artistic and literary journal of the fin-de-siecle Hungary. Founded in 1908, Nyugat birth was consequence of the convergence of other previous three literary magazines, Magyar Géniusz, Virágfakadás and Figyelö. Illuminated by an engraving by the Hungarian artist Beck Ö Fülöp, the first number of Fygielö, eventually published in 1905, opened with an article by Osvát Ernö. In this article he described the cultural environment of Hungary as populated by an artistic production that was completely tradiotionalist, without any true revolutionary forces in a word, ruled by a renunciation attitude. In order the talented artist, let alone if writer, painters or poets, could express their peculiarities, the Fygielö magazine was conceived as a sort of a club, in which every member could freely reveal their own artistic ability.
After the experience of the Fifyelö magazine, the whole group of artists began to publish their intervention on Nyugat.

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Artists who eventually gave their contribution to both the magazine were the writers Viktor Cholnoky, Artúr Elek, Dániel Jób, Margit Kaffka, Gyula Szini, Béla Révész and Lajos Biró, and the poets Endre Ady, Kosztolány, Simon Kemény, Géza Szilágy.

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The first number of Figyelo

Within the members of Nyugat there was even the illustrator Elek Falus. Born in 1884, Falus began his career working as cover illustrator for the publisher Singer és Wolfner kiadó: he illuminated the Little book of Hungarian art written by Karoly Lyka. He decided to continue his studies in foreign countries. He went in München and in London. In this latter city he worked, since 1906,for the famous illustrated magazine “The Studio”, one of the most influencing art nouveau styled magazine. He even illustrated the book of tales of Oscar Wilde. Within the English cultural and artistic environment he studied the works by Beardsley and he was attracted by the linear style of Walter Crane and by the symbolism of the pre-raphaelites.

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Two early works by Elek Falus

After the English experience, Falus went in Germany again, where he worked for the Berliner publisher Paul Cassirer and he was involved in designing theatrical scenes decoration. In that period (1910) he developed his own particular floral style which eventually influenced his work even when returned in Hungary. Falus’s floral motif is essential in its line, characterized by bi-dimensional perspective and by a strict range of colors (mainly reds and blacks). This kind of style became a sort of signature in the large amount of covers Falus designed for the Nyugat edition, once he went back in Budapest.
Founded by the Nyugat magazine director, Ignotus, Nyugat kiadó (edition) included in its catalog several works by most of the writers and poets who wrote articles for the magazine. The Elek Falus’s floreal decoration easily became a characteristic of the Nyugat edition, even more than the official logo itself, which was designed after a drawing by Beck Ö. Fülöp.

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The Nyugat logo designed by Beck Ö. Fülöp both in print and bronze version.

Falus’s talent influenced the general typographic structure of Nyugat edition in which there were a combination of both German constructivism publishing style with English decoration.

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A cover designed by Falus


However, the talent of Elek Falus was partially obfuscated by the fact that book illustration and printing art, in Hungary, were perceived as a minor arts if related to other artistic forms such as architecture or painting.

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A Falus cover for a book of Margit Kaffka (from my personal collection)

Within the most interesting Falus production, now true treasures for bibliophiles, can be cited:
- Oscar Wilde, Tales, 1906
- Josef Vészi, “Jung Ungarn”, 1911, Paul Cassirer verlag
- Lengyel Menyhért, “A Tájfun”, Nyugat kiadása, 1909
- Bíró Lajos, “Családi”, Nyugat kiadása, 1910
- Ady Endre “Szeretném, ha szeretnétek”, Nyugat kiadása, 1910
- Ady Endre “Vér és arany”, 1910
- Csáth Géza, “Délutani álom”, 1911, Nyugat kiadása
- Móricz Zsigmond, “Szerelem”, 1913
- Szomory Deszö, “A rajongó Bolzay lány”, Nyugat kiadása, 1911
- Kiss Jószef, “Levelek”, 1908, Singer és Wolfner

This year 2008 is centenary of foundation of the Nyugat magazine.

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In Budapest, many event celebrate this particular birthday and even a special website was dedicated to the Nyugat centenary:
http://www.infinitysociety.org/NYUGAT100
You can find the digitized version of all number of the magazine following the link below:
http://epa.oszk.hu/00000/00022/nyugat.htm

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