István Farkas

"He comes from one school only: his own.André Salmon

FARKAS, István

(1887, Budapest - 1944, Auschwitz)

Painter. Farkas, who was a pupil of Károly Ferenczy at the Art School in 1908-09, went to Munich. He studied at the Académie de la Palette in Paris in 1912. He became a prisoner of war during World War I and returned to Hungary in 1919. From 1925 he lived in Paris for a longer time where his works were exhibited in 1928-32. "Correspondences", a series of lithographs, were published in Paris in 1928, for which A. Salmon wrote poems in prose.

After his father's death in 1932, he moved to Hungary and took over the Singer and Wolfner Company. From this time onwards, he was engaged in painting frescoes. He was a follower of French painting and a representative of the "École de Paris". Pictures of his late period on tragic situations of life reflected a morbid atmosphere. Besides well-proportioned landscapes, he portrayed outlaws of society ("The Read Bearded"). In his last period, he painted surrealistic visions.


Water-colour, charcoal, 53 x 39 cm
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

(see it enlarged



Between the wars, Farkas created a remarkable body of work. One of the most important critics of the period, André Salmon, in his monograph on István Farkas, stressed the artist's "ability to express dreams with the most complete symbols of reality." Comparing the coherence and integrity of the Farkas oeuvre to those of Matisse and de Chirico, Salmon wrote that "Farkas is unlike anyone else. He comes from one school only: his own."

Farkas was regularly featured at Marcelle Berr de Turique's legendary Galerie Le Portique, along with Matisse, Chagall, Modigliani, Dufy, Zadkine, and Utrillo. Much of the Black Women                                                                     acclaim the artist received as a prominent figure
1931                                                                                           in the École de Paris was forgotten after his
Tempera on wood, 80 x 100 cm                                  departure from that city in 1932, and upon his return
Kiscelli Museum, Budapest                                                                    to Budapest, he did not participate in contemporaneous groups or movements.

But Farkas, who kept pace with his eminent contemporaries in Paris, now created an independent world, one in which were linked the culture of the vanished Austro-Hungarian monarchy--of Musil, Rilke, Kafka, and Freud--and the modern existence evoked by the early existentialist writers. Farkas forged a deeply personal and symbolic visual language during this difficult and ultimately tragic period. In his paintings, he often depicted a mysterious universe populated by alienated, ghostly figures and hostile objects which can be interpreted as both meditations on the frailty of human existence and premonitions of his death. 

Night on the Outskirts of Town
Tempera on wood, 117 x 147 cm
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest



 On the Beach under Purple Sky
Tempera on wood, 60 x 80 cm
Deák Collection, Municipal Gallery, Székesfehérvár


Oil on wood, 80 x 100 cm
Private collection


Artworks by István Farkas