literature, cinema, fine arts

The Rome Effect

Artists at the Hungarian Academy in Rome 1946-48

  • Produced by Müpa Budapest
  • Bridging Europe: Budapest-Rome

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For a few months in 1947-48, the Italian capital became a centre of Hungarian culture, thanks to the scholarships that allowed a number of writers, poets, fine artists, musicians and students of the humanities to travel to Rome as guests of the Collegium Hungaricum. This experience of beauty and freedom shortly before the Iron Curtain went up became a pivotal period for a great many artists and remained an idyllic memory even decades later. The tableau exhibition linked to this year's Bridging Europe festival evokes this lasting Rome effect.

During those years when Hungary was governed by a political coalition, the Hungarian Academy in Rome offered a unique opportunity for many Hungarian artists and intellectuals, with Ágnes Nemes Nagy, János Pilinszky and Sándor Weöres each getting to move to Rome for a few months in 1947-48, as did the painters Judit Reigl and Lipót Böhm, as well as the composer András Szőllősy. This was a densely packed period, exceedingly rich in experiences, encounters and influences, and as soon became clear before the scholarship holders either returned home to Hungary, which was dismantling even the appearance of popular democracy, or chose freedom and set off into the world, also a most fleeting one. But no matter which path they chose, the memory of the days they spent in the Italian capital on a modest scholarship became, for most of them, a part of their identity. "I am to leave here, to return home / but I shall bring you home under my skin, Rome” wrote Győző Csorba in his poem bidding farewell to the Collegium Hungaricum in Rome, and as this chamber exhibition will show, the Rome effect truly has been absorbed into the work of many Hungarian artists.

Presented by: Müpa Budapest

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Bridging Europe: Budapest-Rome

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