Shifts. Hungarian Art After 1945. Rearranged permanent exhibition
The history of Hungarian art after 1945 is comprised of the oeuvres of interrelated generations, groups of artists and artists who sought to pursue an individual path. The institutions as well as the exhibitions in which they manifested their principles played a key role in their careers.
The exhibition aims to provide a view of the period from three aspects: besides pointing out the simultaneous presence of movements and trends, and presenting exhibitions as part of the historical process, we demonstrate, through representative works, how the Hungarian art of the period was related to contemporaneous European trends.
One of the characteristics of Hungarian art after 1945 is that the various trends and artistic approaches did not replace but followed from one another. A good example of this is abstract art that emerged on the basis of the art of earlier generations, or the post-surrealist styles that followed the avant-garde tradition of experimenting, emerging from local interpretations as counterpoints to official art. The parallel histories can almost fully be traced throughout the past few decades.
The significance of exhibitions as key events of art history is also highlighted at several points of this show. This significance lies in the fact that exhibitions point out such commonalities relating artists that consisted in the closeness of their principles and attitudes much rather than in their stylistic sameness or differences. This shows the phenomena or events in a different light, as instead of stylistic similarities, it primarily focuses on conceptual and theoretical links.
Demonstrating the similarities or differences of styles in the artistic practices of the 1960s, 70s and 80s is especially important because while in the 60s and 70s, the dialogue took place between avant-garde and the tolerated modernism of Socialism, in the 1980s we can observe the simultaneous existence of a new type of expressive painting inspired by international trends, and of underground practices prevailing among the artists of the young generation. While progressive artists related their creative practices to European and American movements, this exhibition also aims to demonstrate that the Hungarian historical and cultural context produced outstanding and unique artistic achievements.
In the history of the Hungarian National Gallery, the Hungarian Contemporary Art Department, later called the Contemporary Collection, was established only when the Gallery moved to the Buda Castle in 1975, and this was also when an exhibition of works from the collection opened. Gábor Ö. Pogány, the Gallery's director at the time, played a key role in the establishment of the department. The Gallery has collected contemporary works since its foundation, but for a long time, the collection grew in line with the government's cultural policy. This acquisition practice began to change in the 1980s, with the department's experts allowed an increasing say in purchases. The department of Hungarian art after 1945 now boasts a collection of over 11,000 works, which is the most comprehensive collection of Hungarian art in the past 70 years.
The title of the exhibition, Shifts, calls attention to the changes in the approaches to art, as well as to the role of the market in reevaluating art, and the changes in the system of institutions.