Permanent Exhibition

The rearranged permanent exhibition of 19th-century art

After the previous re-arrangement, characterized by a strong international emphasis, works by the great French masters of the period are at the centre of the new permanent exhibition of 19th-century art, open from June 2014, including among others the collection’s highly popular Impressionist masterpieces (works by Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Rodin). The exhibition guides visitors through art from Delacroix to Puvis de Chavannes, from Romanticism to Symbolism.

In addition to French artists, trends from other parts of Europe have also been included to the selection: a thus far rarely seen ensemble of Neo-classical plaster reliefs by the Dane Bertel Thorvaldsen will continue to be on display until the beginning of September, and a new selection from the museum’s rich collection of Austrian Biedermeier art (Waldmüller, Eybl, Amerling) is also showcased at the exhibition.

As a show on Rembrandt and the golden age of Dutch art will run at the museum from this autumn, numerous other works continuing the traditions of 17th-century Netherlandish art are also displayed at the permanent exhibition. Included among these are artists of the Barbizon School, such as Dupré, Daubigny and Diaz, as well as Troyon, whose animal depictions carried on the tradition established by Paulus Potter and Aelbert Cuyp. The example of Dutch predecessors is also evoked by the winter seaside scene painted by a compatriot, Mesdag, as well as by works of German painters, such as Eduard Schleich and Hermann Baisch, who were influenced by old Netherlandish and contemporary French painting to an equal degree.

European masterpieces of the turn of the century are showcased in two cabinets: landscape painting is represented by works of Carl Moll, Fernand Khnopff and Pekka Halonen, while works by Franz von Stuck, Arnold Böcklin and Akseli Gallen-Kallela inspired by mythological allegories occupy the other cabinet.

One of the main novelties of the newly arranged show is the display of contemporary works in dialogue with the museum’s own material. In the present case the selected works evoke the activities of the Department of Art after 1800 from past years or foreshadow its plans for the future.

The monumental painting titled The Unbridled Great Oak by Hungarian-born painter Alexandre Hollán, who has lived in France since 1956, and whose work has been showed at the Museum of Fine Arts within the frame of the artist’s solo exhibition in 2011, is displayed in the company of Daubigny and Courbet’s landscapes.

Displayed alongside Pissarro’ s 1903 picture titled Pont-Neuf is a work by the Hungarian artist Ilona Keserü, highlighting the parallels between her art and innovations in the use of colour in 19th-century French painting. Her canvas Space per digitum is reminiscent of Neo-impressionist pictorial forming. In autumn visitors will have the opportunity to find out more about Ilona Keserü’s research into colour since on 18th September a cabinet exhibition will open on the theme of hue shift, a special technique or mode of colouring also known in Italian as cangiante.

20th-century and Contemporary Art 
Majovszky Hall

Outstanding works found in the Museum of Fine Arts’ collection of 20th-century and contemporary art – by Joseph Beuys, Michaelangelo Pistoletto, Simon Hantai, Eduardo Chillida, Hermann Nitsch, Antoni Tàpies, Magdalena Abakanowicz, László Lakner, Josef Albers, Günther Uecker, Victor Vasarely, Anthony Caro, Erró and Erwin Wurm, among others – is showcased in the Majovszky Halls, which have been converted into a sterile white cube. The works from the museum’s holdings is complemented by masterpieces of great value on deposit by prominent private collectors, artists and foundations. The sporadic nature of this body of works does not allow for the presentation of a comprehensive and complete narrative, which in the context of what might be called a post-narrative period, would be a futile undertaking in any case; each hall will exhibit a trend, highlighting particular motifs or styles. Providing a kind of methodological introduction, the works in the first Majovszky hall, including mainly conceptually conceived works that take an institutional critique approach, explore the relationship between the avant-garde and the painting tradition as well as the change in the ontological status of the work of art. This issue – which provokes self-reflection in the museum profession and is addressed from time to time by the temporary exhibitions organised by the Department of Art after 1800 – can be placed at the intersection of the collection of 19th-century art and the Old Masters’ Gallery; thus, it is also explored in the shows of the emblematic dossier-exhibition series and at the large-scale Cézanne exhibition, which can be regarded as a synthesis of the exhibition programme of recent years. Displayed in the other Majovszky halls in a flexible historical-stylistic arrangement is the museum’s prominent works representing early 20th century avant-garde trends such as art informel, action art, kinetic art, op art and pop art. The exhibition – following in the spirit of the eminent collector Pál Majovszky, who was a contributor to the museum’s 20th-century and contemporary collection and after whom the halls were named – also showcases foreign artists and émigré artists of Hungarian origin who form part of the international art historical discourse. The units of the exhibition are intended to function as “contextualising spaces” revealing complex systems of correlations and thus enriching individual works with new layers of meaning. Furthermore, the method of the selection and integration of the deposited works reflects the museum’s long-term concept in regard to augmenting its collection. The reopening of the Museum of Fine Arts’ permanent exhibition of 20th-century and contemporary art bring the following questions into focus: on what basis can the international position of this segment of the museum’s collection be defined and what are its prospects in the art world of today?

The permanent exhibition of 20th-century and contemporary art at the basement level has been slightly rearranged: greater emphasis has been given to the donations made by Victor Vasarely, and works by Marc Chagall, Corneille, Le Corbusier, Robert Rauschenberg and Timm Ulrichs are also included along with such newly displayed pieces as Renato Guttuso’s  principle work titled Occupation of Uncultivated Lands of Sicily, Joseph Beuys’ famous bag object exploring the opportunities inherent in direct democracy, and a special lava stone sculpture by Antoni Tàpies.


Curators: Dávid Fehér, Márton Orosz