Monday, April 11, 2016

Homes: Miklos Ligeti--Where He Lived and Where He Died

Miklos Ligeti Home and Studio. Stefania ut 20.
I have returned from Budapet with homes much on my mind.  We are getting ready to sell our house of 27 years and move into a small condominium. While I was in Budapest, I also thought a lot about homes.  I have always been interested not only in the architectural history of the houses I admired, but was also in those who lived there.  This year, I found a new guidebook that offered some of that information.  Reading the abbreviated histories of several houses and their occupants made me want to find more.  And as I have been writing my own book about Hungarian architecture, I have tried, to the extent possible, to locate the names of original owners.  I also became interested in finding the houses of people whose lives, for one reason or another, interested me.  (This was the incentive to find one of the Neuschloss homes at Apostol utca 13b--surprisingly, my most popular post.)

I have documented in this blog my growing interest in the sculptor Miklos Ligeti--an interest spawned by several pieces of his  remarkable sculpture  as well as my meager knowledge of his life story.  (Oh to be able to read Hungarian!)  Returning to Budapest this year, I decided to track down his home--where he lived in Budapest.

This was not particularly easy, as there is little on the web about Ligeti,  But I eventually discovered that his house had been designed by the noted architects Zoltan Balint and Lajos Jambor. Following their history, I learned they had built a house and studio for Ligeti between 1899 and 1900 on Stefania ut 20,  The house is in a neighborhood where many other artists lived, east of the large park Varosliget and very near Odon Lechner's Geological Institute.  The picture above is a photograph of the villa taken sometime before World War II.

Ligeti's house is relatively modest: only two stories with an attached studio. He left it sometime during 1944 to enter the Budapest ghetto.  There is some talk of making it into a museum (put the website into to get a rough English translation), but it has deteriorated so much that may not be practical.  Currently, the house is behind a locked gate, and it appears to be occupied by squatters.  Here are some of the (depressing) pictures taken by pushing my camera through a whole in the fence.

The home is where the body lives: shelter, warmth, sustenance.  Ligeti's home was built to fit the particuar needs of a sculptor.  Wrenched from his home, Ligeti (like other victims of the Holocaust) must have felt deprived of the protection a home offers.  Ligeti's decaying house is the obverse of one of his most famous funereal monuments, the sculpure of a naked man, guided by an angel, entering the tomb, his final "home."

Ligeti himself had no tomb or final "home."  He disappeared in Budapest during the end of World War II.  His monument makes us aware of his absence: he has left his clothes, his hat, and his stick, but he is simply gone. 


Caree Risover said...

Was the large window to let the light into his studio where he worked? The disrepair is awful but so too the updating that was carried out to that window; even in a state of repair it would look awful compared to the one in the original photograph; in my humble opinion of course.

Debra Journet said...

Really, this is the sum total of all I know about the studio, or even the sculptor. For some reason I get hooked on specific people, and then try to follow their stories. I have pretty much come to a dead end on Ligeti--at least in terms of his life story. I think I have also read everything in English about his work. So I don't know. I just find it sad that someone who created what is arguably the most famous statue in Hungary has basically been forgotten. And for whatever reason, I wanted to see where the real person had lived.

Tracy Altieri said...

Home is very much on our minds as well! We continue to be surrounded b boxes as we await the final stages of moving. None of it is seeming to go as planned, and we are now along for the ride. It makes me realize how important it is to me to feel settled. Perhaps it's an age thing.

Debra Journet said...

Our house goes up for sale on Friday. Now the challenge is to live in it and try to keep it immaculate

Gyorgy Brincken said...

Thank you for the story.
I am living near from Stefania street and today I and my daughter discovered the house under the trees.
Sadly, the house look worse like in the your picture.

Debra Journet said...

I am pleased you found my post helpful. You are fortunate to live in a city with so many remarkable monuments from the past. But it is also sad to see the decay of buildings and disappearance from memory of their owners.

Thanks so much for reading and for your kind comments. Debra