Replanning. A selection from the Antal-Lusztig Collection

As its title suggests, the first large-scale exhibition occupying all three floors of the restructured MODEM – Déri Museum exhibition venue, attempts to present a selection from the largest Hungarian private collection from a new perspective. In the past nine years numerous curators, art historians had an opportunity to select different works from the collection. More than 30 exhibitions were organized within the walls of MODEM, in Hungary, and abroad to show the treasured artworks of the collection. This number does not contain exhibitions in which only one or two works were presented from the Antal-Lusztig collection.

On the ground floor the exhibition starts with a portrait gallery, which reminds visitors of onetime aristocrats’ galleries of ancestors. The collection has numerous portraits from the second half of the 20th century, the brightest period of the genre. The portraits include those of famous poets, artists, scientists, known or unknown friends and relatives as well as simple pictures of everyday people. In contemporary art, the full or partial depiction of the human face has taken a new approach. Today’s artists are distanced from this originally representative genre both in their methods and concepts.  

The works displayed on the second floor can be classified into three themes. The largest section shows how cultural traditions, such as the Jewish-Christian culture, and the environment in a broader sense represented in the art of the 20th and the 21st century. Artworks dealing with the Jewish tradition and works that follow Christian iconography are highlighted in the collection. Part of these works can be described as sacral; the other part is build upon traditional symbol systems. Works depicting “the face of the place” (Béla Hamvas) fall into the category of tradition. These works are partly landscapes (depiction of the puszta), and partly shows examples of the Hungarian architectural heritage. Some ethnographic works, or works linked to folk art will be shown too.

The section Traditions is held together by two abstract subjects, Space and Time, and the displayed works are centred around the associations related to these themes. The main motive and symbol of the Time section is the clock. The selected works are portraying clocks, passing time, often along with depictions of cemeteries, or with items showing parts of tombs. The displayed works of the exhibition space can be interpreted as world models.

Whereas the selection on the ground floor is based on a genre, the portrait, and the sections on the second floor are arranged thematically, the works on the third floor recall the giant adventure of representation in the 20th century. The break with figurative art is exemplified by the works of distinguished Hungarian and foreign artists.

The different levels of the exhibition venue make an effort to represent changes of the collecting attitude. Art collecting is a dialogue; the collector and his or her collection constantly interact with each other. The collection and the taste of the collector change together, but the collected works continually alter the personality of the collector, and the way he or she looks at the world.

Apart from featuring traditional genres of fine art (paintings, drawings and sculptures), the approximately 400-piece exhibition is made even more colourful by installations and videos. The display of folk art objects throws further light on the richness of visual culture and the act of collecting. Interactive technical devises enhance visitor experience, the separate education section help children to get familiar with the works and interpret them.


Katalin Nagy T. curator