Sunday, April 12, 2015

Rippl-Ronai and Maillol: An Unexpected Friendship in Art

We went to the Hungarian National Art Museum to see the pictures of the great realist artist Mihaly Munkacsy, whose monumental funeral opens John Lukacs' book Budapest 1900.

Munkacsy's pictures are also monumental--in size and scope.

Mihaly Munkacsy's Last Day of a Condemned Man, 1869, the picture that made him famous.

Lukacs sees Munkacsy's 1900 funeral as the symbolic end of an era.  Already seeds of a new way of making art were alive in Budapest, particularly, as the exhibition Rippl-Ronai es Maillol so beautifully demonstrates now showing at the Museum of Hungarian Art.

Jozsef Rippl-Ronai was a student of Munkacsy in Paris during the 1880s, but he was also linked with French artists of the time with whom he developed friendship.  In particular, he was close to the artist Aristide Maillol.  The exhibition  the deepening friendship and mutual influence of the two artists.  
Aristide Maillol.  Female Profile.1890

Jozsef Rippl-Ronai.  Portrait of Mrs. Pataki.  1892

Rippl-Ronai eventually became one of the Nabis, and worked in the tradition of Impressionism and post-Impressionism.  The exhibit includes letters between Maillol and Rippl-Ronai, as well as other artists.

Rippl-Ronai is another artist of whom I knew nothing before I came to Budapest.  This wonderful and unexpected exhibition opened up his art to me, in a way that would not have happened had I not been here in this city.  It is another unexpected gift Budapest has given to me.  

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