Archive for the ‘Hungarian Secession History’ Category

If one considers the history of Art Nouveau and, in general, of the turn of the Century development of that style through the entire Europe,  it is supposed that in the last five years of the XIX Century the New Style would have been imposed in all Europe. That’s definitively not true. In particular, considering the development of the New Style in Hungary, it is clear that still in the last decade of the XIX Century the Eclectic style, which basically mixes together stylistic elements derived from Greek-roman history of art, as well as others which mimic the Italian style of the Renaissance buildings.

Notwithstanding the early works of Odon Lechner (the Applied Art museum building is dated 1872, for example), the Szecesszio style didn’t take over the previous Eclectic one who characterized Budapest urban development till the XX Century. This particular building in the VIII district is an outstanding example of Eclectic architecture: anyway examples of such a style could be found everywhere either in Buda and Pest side of the city. The ideal marriage of Eclectic and Szecessio styles in Budapest (but even in other Central European countries, such as Vienna or Prague) is due to the late full development of the Art Nouveau Style in Hungary, specially if compared to France, Belgium or Germany.

What is here presented is really an outstanding Historic document. It is a reproduction of the famous Jugendstil devoted magazine Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration published in Darmstadt, reporting the Hungarian presence at the Turing World Exhibition in 1902. The text (in German language) reported the efforts due by the Hungarian artists to achieve a very National style and a characteristic Hungarian declination of Art Nouveau.

The reportage covers mainly the work and the researches of the Hungarian architect and interior designer Ede Wigand (who was also one of our favorite artist, as you can read on previous articles)  and the outstanding applied art production:


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The colored and full of dynamic and curve lines of the Zsolnay pottery are, obviously, also present. Some of the pieces presented during the exhibition in the Hungarian pavilion were produced by the Pecs pottery factory, with slightly modifications, in the following years till the present time:

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The reformed church in  Obuda (IIIth District) is probably the most famous masterpiece of Karoly Kos in Budapest as well as an outstanding example of the Transilvanya styled Szecesszio design. The National Romantic elements characterize every single detail in this church, combining rural lines, geometrical shaped doors and windows, extensive use of wood element and relief stones on the façade. The church is a little bit far away from the very touristic center of Budapest, even if still accessible without great effort. Since it is not far from the Obuda Sziget, eventually the isle where the approaching Sziged festival will take place, it could be easily visited after or pre party time.

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.

Biographic related information regarding the artist could be found here:ároly_Kós and here:

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:

Romanian stylized house with Byzantin and Gotic elements

Gothic influences are also present, mainly due to the presence of a large community of German folks, called Szekely:

Gothic Church
Gothic Castle – Church

Typical Hungarian buildings, styled accordingly to the countryside traditions, are also present:

Hungarian pleasant house

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: ). 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:

Middle age house
Szecesszio house in IIIth District inspired by Transilvanian architecture
Building in German style, with an arched passage
Group of buildings in Wekerle-Telep
Hungarian styled houses
Decoration on a Lechner’s building

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.


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Well, the title is not to be intended as a B/series horror film coming out from the infamous ’80 … Rather, it refers to an house between the 7th and 6th Districts administrative border. The overall general style of the facade is eclectic, as many of the buildings here in Budapest of such dimension:


However, the neoclassic and somewhat heavy style of the overall structure is, quite surprisingly, characterized by a very inusual element which recalls some Symbolist Architecture of the german Jugendstil tradition. Can you see ? Just look a little bit closer …

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Several screaming faces are present on the whole surface of the facade. And if you pay attention the the expressions of these faces, you can feel their onw feelings, even if transfigurated by the symbolistic taste of the architect. You haven’t to be afraid of them, because they are not offending, they are just suffering, as they were perceiving the decadence of the Austria Felix …

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During the third November weekend there was in Budapest the most important art fair of the Hungarian capital city, Art Fair Budapest.

All the main Hungarian galleries of the capital were present, of course and also foreigner galleries exhibited and, asfar as the Hungarian Szecesszio is concerned, several noticeable pieces were present.

The most impressive piece of art nouveau was, probably, a complete dinner room designed by Toroczkai Wigand Ede. The style of this furniture is typical of the Hungarian ancient folk art and it is the result of the researches performed by various artists (Wigand himself, but also Karoly Kos, Bela Lajta and Kozma Lajos) questing for a national way to Art Nouveau. Toroczkai Wigand worked as architect in to Marosvásárhely, the Romanian equivalent of which nowadays is Târgu Mureş, where designed several buildings. He worked as applied art designer and its works are influenced by the typical patterns, styles and ornaments of the Hungarian national folk art.

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The great technical achievement in the development of the pottery manipulation due to the Zsolnay company of Pecs was able to give several creative opportunities to the applied artists. Let alone the new shining material called Eosin, which green, blue, violet and red refractions are more than a typical signature of the Zsolnay own production.

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This article would try to examine one particular achievement due to the new technology in pottery, the enhanced shapeable quality of the material which gave the artist the opportunity to create new effective lines and forms. The curves, the new stylistic religion off the Art Nouveau after Van de Velde, were explored deeply. The softened material gave the artist the same creativity freedom of the painter. And this achievement had as a consequence the use of very strange shapes for the most effective pottery creation

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As inspirational motive the artist could at that point borrow forms and figures from various sources such as bestiaries and illustrated books fulfilled with floral shapes. This is or example the case of the famous book of Erns Hackel, Kunstformen der Natur, 1899-1904, which serve as inspirational source for some Zsolnay creation.


The binding of the new shaping capability together with the brilliance of the Eosin material had, as a result, the creation of some very effective psychedelic, even ante litteram, effects.

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Some of them seems anticipation of some drawing of the great XX century Italian artist Luigi Serafini.


The Hungaria Spa was build in 1910 after the project of the Hungarian architect Emil Agoston in Dohany utca(eventually, who projected the Astoria Hotel, too). The history of the building, and of the spa itself, is a little bit messy. In fact the bath structure operated just until the end of the first decade of the XX century. He was converted in a Cinema in 1920 and as a Cabarè just until 1963. After that date the demolition of the structure began and nowadays what remains is just the facade, which also is in a very terrible condition. 

However the last piece of this historical building survived, and in this very days seems that restoration works finally begin.

The remaining part of the facade still presents a really impressive relief, in typical secession style, of three woman enjoying the thermal water. They aren’t mermaids strictly sense, however those feminine figures are charged with the typical art nouveau symbolism concerning female characters and the water. the pleasing and excited, even erotic, expression which could be still viewable on the female figure on the very left of the relief, is evocative of the sensual, even sexual, relationship of feminine and the natural liquid element.

Not surprisingly, since this symbolism was quite usual in the artistic production of the turn of the century, a very similar frieze can be noticed in Vienna, in Seitzergasse, 1st District. And  even if the subject itself was quite common at the time, however the resemblance between the two sculptures is really noticeable. Judge yourself: link side are the Dohany-utca Budapest woman at the bath, where on the right you can nitice the Vienna mermaids …

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Ferdnand Khnopff vs Otto Eckmann

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