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In Search of Lost Times. Lajos Gulácsy, Dezső Fáy and Arthúr Keleti under the Spell of Italy

Temporary exhibition

Running simultaneously with the exhibition of Lajos Gulácsy’s oeuvre, our chamber exhibition presents the art of Gulácsy together with that of his student, Dezső Fáy, and their writer friend, Arthúr Keleti. Visitors can view 120 or so works: 25 paintings and watercolours, some 60 graphic sheets as well as 30 lithographs and woodcuts. In addition to these pieces, the subject is illustrated with diverse documentary material, manuscripts, photographs, forms, books, and personal memorabilia.

The chamber exhibition to run simultaneously with the exhibition of Lajos Gulácsy’s oeuvre presents the art of Gulácsy together with that of his student, Dezső Fáy (1888–1954), and their writer friend, Arthúr Keleti (1889–1969). The works created through the collaboration of the three artists, bibliophile publications, and various documents provide a comprehensive picture of the close connection between the fine arts and the new Hungarian literature inspired by its devotion to painterly ambiances, while also drawing attention to the importance of Italy and the cult of Dante in the cultural history of the day.

Lajos Gulácsy and Dezső Fáy had an extraordinary attraction to the Italy of bygone days. After their meeting, from 1909 onwards, they were traversing the medieval towns of Italy as inseparable friends and often visited its picturesque regions rich in historic monuments. They even displayed the works they made during these travels at a joint exhibition in Budapest in 1909. The relationship between the master and his student was evoked by Arthúr Keleti, a symbolist poet, who was looking for an illustrator in the early 1920s for his new poem, titled Pax Vobiscum, inspired by the time he had spent in Padua with Gulácsy and which he also dedicated to him. In the end, he commissioned Dezső Fáy to make the illustrations for his pastoral letter, which later enjoyed international success. By then Fáy had become artistically autonomous and recognised as one of the most prominent figures of Hungarian graphic art in the interwar years.

The collection of one hundred drawings made by Fáy as a young artist and bearing the powerful influence of his master, Gulácsy, entered the Hungarian National Gallery’s Collection of Prints and Drawings in 2017 but the public can see a comprehensive selection of them for the first time at this exhibition. The illustrations included in the displayed material, including woodcuts for Dante’s Divina Commedia, aptly represent the spectacular unfolding of Fáy’s activity as an illustrator, equally celebrated by critics and the fans of artists’ books.