Artists’ recollections of the Kádárist period of Hungarian socialism as well as the analyses of the cultural policy of the one-party state include as a permanent motif the “three T’s” for the initial letter of the Hungarian words for banning, toleration and support (tiltás, tűrés, támogatás) designed in theory for works and in practice applied partly to works and partly to artists. The reminiscing artists and the analysts are more or less at one declaring that “three T’s” were “created” by György Aczél to describe the working of the art policy he dictated between 1957 and 1985.
The matter is however far more complicated. First, the control of art policy was only partly in Aczél’s hand at the beginning of the period, and at that time there was no trace of the “three T’s”, but at most two were experienced: banning and support. Secondly, Aczél’s art policy was not solely his: the demarcation of his scope always fundamentally depended on the actual high political circumstances and on the party leaders who tried to hold them in sway.
In the years of retaliation after the 1956 revolution between 1957 and 1962 the HSWP addressed all social groups including of course the artists from the position of power. For Aczél, it would have been in vain to add anything to the memorandum “on the situation of our literature” discussed by the party PC on August 6, 1957 as much as it was in vain to include that “reserving the right of criticism, the party and the government (…) allow publicity to any non-realist trend that is not hostile to the people’s democracy” in the released resolution – that was not an indication of a “tolerant” art policy. This is massively proven by the “guiding principles” of the HSWP’s “cultural policy” announced in the summer of 1958 which declared that “the party will not put up with the fact that the inferior formalist products of bourgeois decadence (…) should pollute the taste of our people without inhibitions.” Consequently, the “non-realist” trends – though not hostile “to the people’s democracy” did not have a say in literature or any other genre, including fine arts. Only the Ministry of Culture could have allowed them some scope, for the key to all publicity – in case of fine arts, the preliminary permission process for exhibitions – got into the hands of the art department of the ministry from autumn ’57, but they had no intention to give room to artists creating abstract, surrealist, etc. works qualified as “anti-humanist”.
In the early sixties the grip of the dictatorship was loosened. In his closing address at the 8th congress of the HSWP János Kádár announced the slogan of the new times: “Those who are not against us are with us.” In this relaxed atmosphere the ministry in charge of artistic matters was ready to make concessions. Small concessions, of course: they deemed it sufficient to give permission for four exhibitions a year in the smallest exhibiting room of Budapest for the representatives of “artistic trends alien to our goals but not hostile in its contents”, provided that they were willing and able to cover all costs of the exhibitions from their pockets. The plan was thrashed out in detail. György Aczél consulted personally with the head of the cultural subsdivision of the HSWP László Szecsődi before the memorandum to be submitted to the party’s Committee of Agitation and Propaganda. Yet the case did not reach the committee and in 1963 it was removed from the agenda. Notably because, in late 1962, the Soviet political leadership launched a campaign against all modern styles – not for the first or the last time — which the Hungarian decision-makers – who had enough trouble with the architects’ viewpoint that they would not see any “thematic works” in their buildings — could not disregard.
The case of the “self-paid exhibitions” came up again around the middle of the decade when preparations for the “new economic mechanism” to be launched in 1968 required the differentiation of the tools of a cultural policy that until then only knew of support and banning and the increased flexibility of allocating financial support, so they inserted the category of “tolerable” or “permissible” works between the supported and banned ones concerning public showing. Then on May 4, 1967 the ministry ordered the Lectorate of Fine and Applied Arts to insert in the schedule of exhibitions “self-paid” and “semi-self-paid” showings, and instructed the Kunsthalle to stage them in the Fényes Adolf gallery. The cost to be paid was 5000 and 2500 HUF, respectively. The first such exhibitions were opened in 1968.
Not many such showings took place. There was no point. From the early sixties nearly all forbidden fruits — works by the classic and new generations of Hungarian avant-garde — were accessible at first in private homes, later in university clubs, culture houses, the Club of Young Artists, from 1963 in the most important venue, the King St Stephen Museum in Székesfehérvár and later in the Janus Pannonius Museum in Pécs.
The paper whose preliminary writing was published in Művészettörténeti Értesítő 2015/2 presents the archival sources of the above process in the appendix.
The study is part of a greater research into church construction between 1945 and 1970. The revision of church building is based on researches in historical and ecclesiastic archives, contemporary press, works of local history and field investigations. It applies particularly to the period after World War II that political and social history determined the construction of churches (the permissions to acquire the sites, materials, plans and building permits). This requires a review of the special historical literature concerning the churches between 1945 and 1957, and the post-war building rules. The next section discusses the buildings until 1957. The considerable stock is studied from different art historical viewpoints than the churches of the previous ages. Historical periodicization has divided the studied period into three parts: the first major event affecting the material-spiritual bases of the churches was the land reform of 1945, the second was the law of 1948 to nationalize the denominational schools. It directly influenced the church organization and the life of the believers that the communist party set up a security police in 1945, and in 1946 the Ministry of the Interior created a Department of State Security. The constitutional role of the catholic church ceased with the Hungarian parliament declaring the country a republic in 1946. A law was also passed about the penal consequences of anti-republican propaganda and organization. With these legislative tools the state restricted the material power and intellectual influence of the catholic church, while its power agencies spread fear and existential uncertainty, poisoning the coherence of smaller groups. In the first phase of the period between 1946 and 1958, the catholic church was subdued and the total controlling mechanism of the dictatorship was built out until 1953. Though an agreement was concluded between the state and the Roman Catholic church in the years between 1946 and 1958, it had little practical outcome, the persecution of the churches going on. The monastic orders were suppressed with four exceptions (1950), the peace movement of the clergy working within the church organization for the approval of the regime was initiated (1950) and the State Office of Church Affairs was set up (1951). No change ensued in the official church policy in the period after Stalin's death until 1956, nor in the 1956–58 years. In terms of building history, two main phases can be differentiated in the post-war period. Though the paper concentrates on the first, it is necessary to review the characteristics of the second as well to justify the subdivision. The researches so-far have revealed that concent to constructions belonged to the jurisdiction of the church authorities and the local council's building departments between 1945 and 1958. The foundation of the State Office of Church Affairs did not automatically entail a change in the permitting process, but it could influence the allocation of state funds, hence the financial standing of the churches. Between 1958 and 1989 two resolutions were passed on church construction. In 1958 the Ministry of Constructions spelt out that the local Council could not issue a building permit to a church property unless it had received the approval of the Church Affairs Office. The Office had the right to decide on the approval of plans, allocation of state subsidies and acquisition of building materials. This practice was somewhat relaxed from 1970 and the chief county official in charge of church affairs could also issue permits up to a limit of 50 thousand forints. There was no considerable change in the financial resources of the church in this period but the Office used the allocation of extraordinary state allowances to manipulate the financial position and internal life of the churches. In the second part of the study the author looks closely into church architecture between 1945 and 1957. After describing the acquisition of site, plans, building materials and the raising of funds, she enumerates the church types. The 172 major documented constructions can be divided into five large groups (renovation with extention, completion, conversion, reconstruction and building a new church). Each group is illustrated with building histories and descriptions. The first group contains cases when a renewed church received some extension or tower. The second group comprises church constructions begun before or during the war and completed now. The third populous group contains existing buildings which were massively changed in a variety of ways, from interior redecoration to extensive rebuilding of the exterior before they were consecrated. The reconstructed churches include the ones that had to be built wholly or largely anew on the basis of available sources. A building history touches on location, formal solution (size, shape, relation to earlier destroyed church, etc.). Four examples illustrated the new constructions. The circumstances of permission and finances, and the formal features are discussed in detail. The research on the history and formal characteristics of the reconstructed and newly built churches has resulted in the confutation of some earlier theses of special literature. It is not true that new churches were only allowed to be built in place of old, perished or destroyed churches or school chapels. Nor is it true that the new edifice had to coincide with the layout of the earlier or demolished one in the same size. The closing section of the dissertation embarks on three approaches to church construction in the period between 1945 and 1957. One cites the catholic media concerning buildings, to show what language they used when they tried to persuade the readership to give donations or inform them of church consecrations. The other approach is that of the Hungarian art historical and ecclesiastical special literature concerned with church architecture. The author compares the formals stock of modernity, of major secular architecture, the aesthetic approach and the interplay between church architecture and liturgical revival with the corresponding trends in Western art history. At last the analysis of the buildings of the period ensues. Taking stock of the ground plans and architectonic elements and their frequency, the author concludes that the basic forms and decorative motifs of the romanesque, gothic and baroque styles appear in every building with varying frequency and stylization. Built with varying talent at planning and execution, the forms reveal the adherence of the clients to traditions; they must have deemed the church buildings to be suitable to express the “spiritual content”, the cohesion of the community in these forms. The so-far most thorough research of the building stock of the period has revealed that the period between 1945 and 1989 was not homogeneous. Different regulations and feasibility mark out different periods. The study of building histories has resulted in a colourful picture, although further research will certainly add more details to our knowledge of the interrelation between politics and local regulation. The degree to which a local church has been elaborated (research into the architecture of the settlement, predecents to the church, building history, formal relations with churches in nearby settlements, etc.) does not only show the coherence of the local community but also its attitude to traditions and innovations. Future investigations on the church architecture of the period should depend on the exploration of further sources and their elaboration with historical methods.
The archive has been one of the most popular topics in the humanities of the past few decades. The archive as such has not only influenced historical, art historical, cultural anthropological research, but it has also become a corner stone for philosophical and art theoretical thinking. In Derrida's conception, there are two forces at work in an archive: one is that of conserving, the other is destructive, the latter phrased as “the archive fever” (mal d'archive) which works against conservation, wishing to destroy (to suppress). A good example of this two-way force may be the so-called “Heidelberg suitcase” which, after Lukács's death, turned out to have been deposited in a Swiss bank safe. It contained the philosopher's early writings, sketches, diary and correspondence. In Lukács's oeuvre biographical and autobiographical elements are mixed, life is replaced by “lived thinking”.
The Lukács Archives is located in the philosopher's last apartment in Budapest, it is both a memorial and a research place. Contemporary artists' Interventions in May 2010, in memory of the 125th anniversary of the philosopher's birth, partly explored the law-creating power (arche) of the archive and partly the hidden sides of Lukács's life and work. Lukács had been an inspiring source for contemporary art. László Lakner's book objects and hyper-realistic book pictures (1970) tried to explore the relationship between philosophy and art in general and presented, at the same time, Lakner's (critical) attitude to the philosophical sources. Lukács also appeared in a different role, in film, approximately at around the same time: in the legendary, censored and banned film by Dezső Magyar entitled Agitators (1969). The script was the adaptation of Ervin Sinkó's documentary novel, Optimists by Dezső Magyar and Gábor Bódy. Writing the history of the Hungarian Republic of Councils of 1919, they used several personal recollections, including those of Lukács' and Sinkó's. The directors of the film approached the events of the Republic from the viewpoint of the so-called “ideological group”, action was often replaced by speech in the film, and they used archive film footages, uniting Eisenstein's “intellectual montage” and Jean-Luc Godard's propaganda language. Also, György Kemény painted a secco in a room of Ferenc Kőszeg's apartment in 1972, at a time when the renaissance of Marxism and the rejection of “existing socialism” did not yet involve total disappointment from Marxism. The iconography of the mural was worked out by the then-tenants of the room, philosophers György Bence and János Kenedi. The secco represented not only Lukács himself but also Angela Davis, as well as Leo Trotsky. Photographer Gabriella Csoszó and curator Lívia Páldi have been working on an accurate photo-documentation of the Lukács Archives since 2008. Some of these photos under the title Shelves were on view at the Budapest Kunsthalle's exhibition Other voices, other rooms – reconstruction attempt(s), fifty years of the Balázs Béla Studio.Interventions was conceived and organized by artist Tamás Soós who, like Lakner, was inspired to study Lukács by his childhood and youth memories. Soós' approach to the archives and also to Lukács is esoteric: the figure of the philosopher can only exist in allusions (consequently, his attitude to him is uncritical), through his books and the narration of his most important student and follower. The figure of Lukács has been faded by time: even to talk about him is already history, he himself belongs to the archive, simple past has turned to past perfect. Soós is preoccupied by the melancholy of this transiency against which one may fight with dreams, remembrance, meditation.
In János Sugár's intervention, the archive appeared as the place of preservation and law. Sugár did not wish to evaluate Lukács' oeuvre: in his interpretation it is the archive itself that is to be preserved. Sugár focused on the actual state of the Lukács Archives, its functioning at the mercy of economic and political decisions. The central element of his intervention is the gesture of conservation. He sprayed onto the wall, under a picture of the study room, one of his earlier graffiti works (Arbeite gratis oder verrichte eine Arbeit die du auch gratis machen würdest [Work for free or do a work that you would do for free]) so that, in case of an evacuation of the archive it is revealed as a warning, a deterrent for the liquidators.
Miklós Erhardt's intervention presents the philosopher as an active political actor, “Realpolitiker” whose activity in this capacity also raises ethical questions. Addressing those who were present, he revived a historical event of 1919 (as the political commissar of the Red Army, Lukács ordered seven people to be shot dead), a fact that is to be faced up to here and now. The covering of a crushed memorial plaque was his reflection upon the inclusion of a historically and politically laden monument in the archive as a piece of furniture, i.e. meaningless surface.
Balázs Beöthy addressed Lukács' the Soul and Forms, and installed his research findings in the memorial room of the archives on Lukács desk. Beöthy was interested to pinpoint the biographical-philosophical moment that made the young Lukács choose between personal life and work. Of all Intervention participants, it was Beöthy alone who studied the documents in the archives instead of just trying to capture the “spiritus loci” or the figure of the archive-founder philosopher in general. Next to photo copies of Lukács's private letters (first of all Irma Seidler's letters) Beöthy put a video piece (Hancsi) narrating a love story from his own life that had some similarities with that of Lukács'. Beöthy does not only question Lukács's choice: the video is a testimony that the question itself – life or work? – is fundamentally wrong. Life is the source and model of the work – as the dedication of Soul and Forms also supports.
It was Lukács “alive” (impersonated) who was the protagonist of the intervention of Little Warsaw (András Gálik and Bálint Havas). Their attempt to present the real person in his original setting can be seen both as a minimalist performance and as a hyperrealist statue. By giving shape to a quasi mythical figure, Little Warsaw also put their finger on one of the sorest points of Lukács' esthetic thinking. Their intervention confronted Lukács' realism concept with the everyday realities of contemporary art. By conjuring up the figure of Lukács in this environment, the dusty backdrop of the archive, they did not only ask how it was possible to preserve anyone's memory, but also pondered how to face the historical-esthetic and political legacy and its contradictions of the most prominent and influential Hungarian philosopher of the 20th century.
The present paper is the second part of two connected essays (following One night at the Lukács Archives: György Lukács and contemporary art, Művészettörténeti Értesítő 61. 2012/1. 1–31). Both attempted to present a special point, Lukács' antipathy to modern, avant-garde art that is obviously there in his work ever since its beginning. Even though Lukács carried the flag for 19th century classical realist art, his writings influenced the art discourse, he influenced thinking in the 20th century, and his ideas were important for contemporary artists, even if in the form of rejecting them. The Archive Fever was working in these Interventions as well, and the same fever may help to demolish the wall between Lukács and contemporary art.
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László Kontler, "The Need for Pride. Foundation Myths and the Reflection of History
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