Some weeks ago I was able to find, in an antikvarium here in Pest side, a good translation in German language of the insight essays on Transylvanian pleasant art written by Karoly Kos. I owned that book in Hungarian but, now, being able to read the text in a much more friendly language, I am able to going further into the researches on the folk art of the SiebenBuergen (Erdely) countryside.
In the small essay (1930), named "Erdely" after the Hungarian name of the Transylvanian region, Kos descried, providing several examples and drawings, the very characteristic of that region’s own architecture. The Kos point of view is quite interesting: in fact he was seeking for the very stylistic roots of the Hungarian folk art and he realized that the history of the region is so complex and with so many influences that it has a very impact on the definition of the style. The booklet itself is an in depth account on the history of the Transylvanian region, just because the historical background of the region couldn’t be separated by the aesthetic development of the Hungarian folk art style. Kos tried to summarize the main roots of that style. some stylistic elements originated from the traditional culture of Romanian people, partly influenced by ancient Dacian (former Roman Empire region) and later Byzantin elements:
Gothic influences are also present, mainly due to the presence of a large community of German folks, called Szekely:
Typical Hungarian buildings, styled accordingly to the countryside traditions, are also present:
By the point of view of the Szecesszio this historical, artistic, stylistic essay of Karoly Kos had a tremendous influence. The style and the forms, the decorations as well as the architectonic elements of the Transylvanian region provided a vast source of inspirations to many Hungarian secessionist artist, from Lechner to Wigand, from Sandor Nagy to Ferenc Helbing, just to cite some of them. Moreover, this deep interest in the traditional Transylvanian folk art was due for another important reason. The relationship between the Szecesszio style and the quest for a national Hungarian style was very important (see Karoly Lyka article here: http://www.szecesszio.com/?p=53 ). For that reason, folk art elements were considered an effective way to shape the curves of the Art Nouveau with the Hungarian way. The researches of Karoly Kos were influencing, specially as far as the architecture was concerned. The booklet of Kos was considered a source of inspiration, in a similar way that the Heschel’s "Kunstformen der Natur" was considered a source of patterns and styles for the German Jugendstil. The Kos booklet was then filled by drawings due to Kos itself which captured the very essence of the Transilvanians lines. In Budapest there are several examples of buildings inspired by those forms:
Several other examples could be found. Anyway what really matters here, is the fact that the quest for a national style, and thus the researches related to the Transylvanian folk arts, didn’t discriminate in any case between the so called "Hungarian" elements from the Romanian or German ones. The Szecesszio artists mostly agreed with the Kos point of view: the national heritage is quite a complex one. The folk and national art was formed by several influences and, thus, the Transylvanian art, and then the Hungarian one, rather than a monolithic style, was conceived as a melting pot of people, traditions, patterns, decorations coming from all the folks of the Balkan area. The cosmopolitan attitude of the Art Nouveau developed in Hungary with a further openness: the multi-culture relations within a multiethnic region. Another good reason to claim the revival of the Art Nouveau art and culture, notwithstanding the stupid actual divisions between people who seems to forget they are sharing much more than a geographic contiguity.