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The Hungarian Avant-Garde periodical Magyar Műhely has been published in Paris since 1962, from the mid-1960s on with the collaboration of Hungarian emigrants living in Vienna. The paper deals with the periodical (layout, cover design, typography) and with the published contributions (works of art, illustrations, photo documentation on the one side, texts on the other: literature, theoretical essays and documentary material) focusing on their materiality. The process of production as well as of the reception of Magyar Műhely seem to be describable correctly if its diverse media formats (periodical, text, picture, hybrid formats, such as, for example, picture poems) are understood in their materiality. The special variant of the avantgardistic aesthetics embodied in Magyar Műhely, that it provided a platform for experiment and innovation as well as for the “other”, correspond with the fact that it was published by people on the margins for a marginalised, emigrant public. The paper discusses these aesthetic, organizational and political issues focusing on works of geometric art and visual poetry printed in the periodical.

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Aesthetics in the shadow of politics

Surnaturalism and magical socialist realism in Hungary in the early Sixties

Acta Historiae Artium Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Author: Sándor Hornyik

After 1956, thanks to the political thaw a modernization of the Hungarian canon of socialist realism took place. However, the modern and nationally oriented view of socialist culture was confronted with an ideologically motivated fear of nationalism and bourgeois revisionism, which also fueled official hostility towards the forces of popular naturalism and ‘decadent’ surrealism. Consequently, in the early 1960s a significant part of Hungarian art criticism was still dominated by the dated political aesthetics of Zhdanov that fiercely offended new realist tendencies, like the work of Tibor Csernus and his followers. One of their critics labeled the new realism of Csernus ‘surnaturalism,’ others supported their painting under the umbrella terminology of ‘magical realism.’ The paper investigates the different aesthetic ideologies and interpretations concerning such artists as László Lakner, László Gyémánt, György Korga, Gyula Konkoly, and Csernus himself. Beside the analysis of their avant-garde, ‘formalist’ sources, the paper also attempts to shed light on their realism, based on the classical figurative tradition of painting from Piero della Francesca to Edouard Manet. Beyond the more or less ironic use of the cold war imagery, this ‘traditionalism’ could even legitimate their ‘decadent’ formalism. However, their secret classic and modern references and their unique illusionism or a kind of magical socialist realism have never got the official stamp of approval.

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According to the Irish novelist James Joyce, Thomas Aquinas's well-known formal trilogy from the Summa Theologiae is central to understanding beauty: proportio, claritas, and integritas. Joyce in fact formulated a youthful aesthetic based on Aquinas in his novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). Despite Joyce's ontological misunderstanding of Thomas, this article resumes several interpretations of Thomist aesthetics (i.e., J. Maritain, U. Ecco, and F. J. Kovach) and strives to renew an understanding of contemporary art with regard to its relationship to the good/true and the possible rejection of this relationship.

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In regard to the aesthetic and stylistic phisiognomy of the music of both Sándor Veress (1907-92) and György Kurtág (*1926) it is instructive to focus on their treatment of the melodic dimension. For both the melodic statement remains a basic necessity, even in the context of the post-war avantgarde. Yet in contrast to Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály, and especially their epigones, composing for Veress and Kurtág often means “seeking melody” in which the sought after object cannot appear in its “pure” form. Veress' position is discussed in the light of Orbis tonorum for chamber orchestra (1986). On the basis of two Beckett pieces of Kurtág - Mi is a szó (1990), What is the Word (1991) - and his Életút (1992), aspects of his aesthetics and the melodic treatment are examined.  

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In his inaugural lecture to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Béla Bartók proposed dividing the works of Liszt into two unequally valued portions: the valuable works that showed Liszt as an artistic innovator, and the undesirable ones that adopted a false “Hungarian” style that pleased unsophisticated listeners but corrupted their taste. In sum, he asserted a radical pseudo-aesthetic dichotomy in the interests of a political agenda. Only a dozen years later, Bartók’s own legacy was dichotomized in a very similar way by musicians and politicians, on both sides of the Cold War divide, who were acting according to a political agenda that no one even tried to disguise as aesthetic. The crypto-political pseudo-aesthetics of the twentieth century, whether practiced in the name of pure national traditions, in the name of social justice, or in the name of aesthetic autonomy, has corrupted both the production and the reception of art music and has played a part in its devaluation, all too evident in twenty-first-century society. The many errors of evaluation enumerated in this essay have contributed to that melancholy history.

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Abstract

Bartók's influence on his outstanding Hungarian contemporary, László Lajtha (1892–1963) remains as yet largely unresearched. Lajtha studied with Bartók at the Royal Hungarian Academy of Music and went on to become a composer, folk music researcher, versatile teacher, international cultural ambassador, and member of the French Academy. The two men's friendship and mutual respect lasted throughout Bartók's life. Among the leading musicians of the time, it was Bartók who first expressed his high opinion of the younger composer's talent. Bartók's influence can be observed in almost every field of Lajtha's work. For example, it was Bartók who recommended that Lajtha choose Paris as the place to complete his studies, which fostered in turn Lajtha's orientation toward Latin culture. Following in Bartók's footsteps, Lajtha became one of the greatest folk music collectors and researchers in Hungary, and this music also exerted a significant effect on his compositional style. Bartók recommended that the director Georg Hoellering commission Lajtha to write film music, which became an important new genre for the latter. A large number of documents — especially the unpublished letters from László Lajtha to John S. Weissmann, one of his former students — offer proof that Bartók's inspiration and practical assistance were of paramount importance to the development of Lajtha's career, oeuvre, and aesthetics.

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Kapitels aus ihrem Buch A History of Poetics. German Scholarly Aesthetics and Poetics in International Context, 1770–1960 von 2010. Der Beitrag analysiert die Aesthetik des Göttinger Philosophen Bouterwek , deren drei Ausgaben (1806, 1815 und 1824

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