Vienna and Budapest on the edge of the centuries.
On 11 November 2005 an exhibition with more than 500 works of art opens in the State Hermitage. It is devoted to a very bright period in the common history of two peoples - Hungarians and Austrians - the period which began with the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1867.
The exhibition has been organized jointly by the State Hermitage in collaboration with the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna) and the Hungarian National Gallery (Budapest) with the participation of the Wien Museum, the Oesterreichisches Theatermuseum, the Oesterreichische Galerie Belvedere (Vienna), the Budapest History Museum, and the Museum of Applied Art in Budapest. Assistance has been provided by the Embassy of the Austrian Republic in the Russian Federation, the Embassy of the Hungarian Republic in the Russian Federation, the General Consulate of the Hungarian Republic in St Petersburg, and the Honorary General Consul of the Austrian Republic in St Petersburg.
The exhibition opens with works of art from the age of Historicism: paintings, objects of decorative and applied art, architectural plans and, fresco-sketches. Industrial design which arose at the end of the 19th century is represented by Art Nouveau (Secession) works made of glass and metal, pieces of furniture and the world-renowned ceramics of the Zsolnay factory. Trends in European painting at the turn of the century were reflected in work by the Austrian and Hungarian masters of Plain Air landscapes, and artists of the Secession School. Applied art from this period is represented by posters and also by ceramics, costumes, woven carpets from the best known Hungarian workshops, and creations by Hungarians in the weaving ateliers in the Godolo Artist Colony which leaned towards folk motifs. The last section of the exhibition is devoted to the world of theater, music and literature.
The juxtaposition of Hungarian and Austrian works of art underlines their similarities and differences. Two styles are presented in the exhibition - Art Nouveau and Historicism. They existed in both countries and competed with one another. Together with Munich and Paris, Vienna was one of the main centers of art at the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th century. The works of Austrian masters and their Hungarian students indicate that artists from Budapest not only studied under their Vienna colleagues but became their competitors. In this way Budapest magnified and contributed to the role Vienna enjoyed as a cultural center.
For nearly five centuries (1526-1918) Austrians and Hungarians lived together under one state. In 1867 the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was created. Emperor Franz Josef and his wife Empress Elisabeth were king and queen of Hungary as a token of the equality of the two peoples.
1873 was an important date in the history of both Vienna and Budapest. In that year the World's Fair was held in Vienna. At the same time, three cities on the banks of the Danube merged to create Budapest. Initially Budapest followed Vienna in everything. Young architects and painters studied in the Vienna Academy. Right up to the end of the 1890's, the development of art in the two capitals went in parallel, but then they began to diverge. The young people began to study in Munich or in Paris. One should note that canvases by Mihaly Munkacsy, Bertalan Szekely and Laszlo Paal which were exhibited in 1873 at the World's Fair are also shown now in the Hermitage.
The period between 1873 and 1920 was one of breakthroughs. Vienna and Budapest after it became cities of world importance. During the 1910's both cities gave birth to their own Avant-gardes, and artists who worked there made a notable contribution to the development of the whole European Avant-garde.
The postcards, maps, photographs and architectural plans for new residential communities on display in the exhibition illustrate the growth of Vienna and Budapest. This was the time when grandiose plans were made for rebuilding the Hofburg, the imperial residence in Vienna, and the royal palace in Budapest.
The exhibition devotes special attention to the fine arts. Pettenkoffen founded a school of painting which discovered the landscapes of Lower Hungary. Separately from the landscape paintings of the Austrian and Hungarian so-called Stimmungsimpressionismus (mood-impressionists), there is one of the rare examples of Plain Air works by Mihaly Munkacsy, his masterpiece Dirtroad (Poros ut).
A later generation of the Szolnok School and the Nagybanya painters such as Karoly Ferenczy were different from contemporary Austrian artists like Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele. The main artists of Hungary were Janos Vaszary and Jozsef Rippl Ronai, who stayed abreast of the change in styles; and geniuses who challenged any facile classification such as Tivadar Csontvary Kosztka and Gulacsy.
The exhibition displays the group Nyolcak (Eight) of Avant-garde artists. During the 1910's they opposed the elder, successful artists who enjoyed state patronage. The end of their growth was marked by the appearance of the Ma (Today) and Kassak groups, which developed during the time of the First World War. Later these artists emigrated to Vienna.
The exhibition concludes with works by the Vienna Avant-garde which were displayed in Budapest in 1912 under the name Neukunst (New Art). Their show had international success and among the artists who took part were Schonberg, Kokoschka and Gutersloh. This group shows how a fruitful collaboration arose between Hungarian and Austrian artists
The exhibition largely repeats similar exhibitions which were held with great success in Vienna and Budapest during 2003 and 2004.
The sponsors of the exhibition are: the Ministry of National Heritage of the Hungarian Republic, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of the Austrian Republic, the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Austrian Republic.
The chief curator of the exhibition is Dr. Katalin Foldi-Dozsa, honorary director of the Budapest History Museum.
The exhibition's curators are: M.A. Anikin, senior researcher of the Department of Western European Art, State Hermitage; A. Pistorius, curator of the Oesterreichisches Theatermuseum; Edit Plesznivy, curator of the Hungarian National Gallery; and P Pohanka, curator of the Wien Museum.
An exhibition catalogue has been issued by the Slavia Publishing House, St Petersburg. The authors of the articles are well known art historians from Austria, Hungary and Russia.