In the last decade an increasing number of art historians, photography historians, collectors, curators and other art world professionals –both in Hungary and abroad – have recognised the fact that between 1965 and 2005 a uniquely rich, intriguing and valuable kind of photography was born in Hungary where it thrived in subsequent years.

Mutineers - Neo-avant-garde and New Wave in Hungarian Photography, 1965- 2005
7 September – 6 October, 2018
Concept: Gábor Einspach and Sándor Szilágyi
Curated by: Gábor Rieder
Kepes Institut, Eger, Hungary

This was thanks to some 40 mutineer photographers and 20-25 non-conformist artists who used photography too, all of whom rejected the official, kitsch, socialist-humanist “artistic photography” of the era and, inspired by contemporary (American, Western and Central-Eastern European) patterns, started to conduct photographic experiments. To this day, this was the only period in the history of Hungarian photography when our photographers did not lag 15-25 years behind an already outdated, classicized fashion wave which had long been superseded elsewhere, but breathed together with their contemporaries – something that can clearly be seen when looking at representative international exhibitions and publications of the time.
Precisely because of its experimental nature, this period of Hungarian photography was an extraordinarily diverse and varied one. Still, there are two big movements of style – both of them fitting into international trends too – in the framework of which we can place the aforementioned experiments in a way that makes sense: Neo-avant-garde and New Wave. These were not, however, two movements that replaced each other instantenously. For more than half a decade, between 1980 and 1984, they had a parallel, intertwined existence – and they did, incidentally, get along with one another very well: their representatives would exhibit together, publish their works at the same places, frequent the same underground venues, and so on. Moreover, the two movements should not be regarded as opposites from an esthetic standpoint either, since their relationship was complimentary rather than contradictory.
New Wave, which began around 1980 and reached its apogee in the 1990s, was not the sheer negation of the Neo-avant-garde period (1965-1984); rather, the differences between the two were a matter of emphasis. One was more this, the other more that. Stresses were moved – and at times they would be moved back to their original places.


Neo-avant-garde is more social
– New Wave is more individualistic
Neo-avant-garde is utopian
– New Wave is more disillusioned, punk
Neo-avant-garde is more sombre, it has a sense of mission
– New Wave is casual, playful
Neo-avant-garde`s use of mediais analytical
– New Wave takes photographical innovations as a given
Neo-avant-garde is mostly black-and-white
– New Wave is often colourful, parts of it frequently painted or coloured in
and so on and so forth.
(Sándor Szilágyi, PhD, writer on art photography)

András Balla, Péter Bányay, András Baranyay, Zsolt Péter Barta, Ákos Birkás, Imre Drégely, Ágnes Eperjesi, Miklós Erdély, Enikő Gábor, Zoltán Gazsi, Péter Gémes, Tibor Hajas, István Halas, Károly Halász, László Haris, Péter, Herendi, Antal Jokesz, Gábor Kerekes, Csaba Koncz, György Lőrinczy, Dóra Maurer, Károly Minyó Szert, Attila, Pácser, Géza Perneczky, Tibor Sóskuti, György Stalter, Tibor Szalai, János Szerencsés, Lenke Szilágyi, Sándor Szilágyi, István Szirányi, Bálint Szombathy, Balázs Telek, Péter Tímár, Gábor Tóth, György Tóth, László Török, Zsuzsi Ujj, Attila Vécsy, Magdi Vékás, János Vető, László Vincze

Art+Text Budapest is committed to support the presentation and promotion of Hungarian progressive photography in Hungary and abroad. In 2017, together with Fotókultúra BT, the gallery published the seminal work Neo-avant-garde Trends in Hungarian Art Photography, 1965-1984 by Sándor Szilágyi in English, and as part of its photographic programme it has organised solo exhibitions in Hungary (Gábor Kerekes, 2016; Csaba Koncz, 2018) as well as group shows abroad (Photo London, 2018; Paris Photo, 2018). The group exhibition presenting progressive photography between 1965 and 2005 at the Kepes Institute in Eger will take place to further extend this programme.

Supported by NKA ( National Cultural Fund of Hungary)

Special thanks to the following institutions which have kindly agreed to loan their works to us: Chimera-Project Gallery, MissionArt Gallery, Neon Gallery, and Vintage Gallery.

Mutineers: Neo-avant-garde and New Wave in Hungarian Photography, 1965–2005, exhibition interior, 2018, Kepes Intézet, Eger, Hungary
Courtesy of the exhibited artists, loaning institutions, and Art+Text Budapest. Photographer: Attila Vécsy