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Art Investment News editor and publisher Paul Ben-Itzak, who has also written for Reuters, the New York Times, and many others and also publishes the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager, is looking for work in France, where he lived and worked for 10 years. He is ready to include his magazines in any deal. Interested parties can e-mail Paul.


Art Investment News Gallery, 4-2: Pioneers of the Ninth Art
How Jozsef Farago Expanded Honore Daumier Beyond the Frame

Jozsef Farago, A cover page design for the album "Farago's Review," 1898. 1907-320. Paper, ink, pen. 411 x 317 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2013 Paul Ben-Itzak

One risk of the Franco-centrism of most of the world's international-caliber museums of classic art (by classic I mean before 1950) is that the indigenous culture often gets short shrift, even when it compliments the French masters as sources of inspiration and emulation for the local talent. In Hungary -- which has a rich culture too often over-looked by the global curatorial brain-trust -- the recently reunited Budapest Museum of Fine Arts and Hungarian National Gallery have neatly addressed this lapse by mounting, as their first collaboration since the merger, complimentary exhibitions on Honore Daumier (1808-1879), the pioneering French caricaturist, and Jozsef Farago' (1866-1906), who succeeded Daumier chronologically but may just have exceeded him artistically, creating work that, while topical, can stand on its own as art whether or not one knows the historical context and even if one doesn't speak the language.

Farago, who studied painting at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, first published his lampoons of bickering Hungarian politicians in the satirical magazine Borsszem Janko and then at the weekly Kakas Merton; before he advanced the art by personalizing it, the magazines' cartoons had featured mostly generic figures. He also caricatured paintings and sculptures, some of which are featured in "The Way We Are: Cartoons and Prints of Jozsef Farago, extended through June 2 at the Hungarian National Gallery. (The Museum of Fine Arts's exhibition Honore Daumier / Master of French Caricature, drawn from its exceptional collection of 170 works by the artist, has recently closed.) In his own time, encouraged by exhibitions of his work, Farago expanded beyond caricature to illustrate books and magazines, extending further into portraiture, etchings, and lithographs in in the early 1900s; he even portrayed the composer Richard Strauss after moving to Berlin in 1903. In 1906, one year after a successful exhibition of his etchings, Farago killed himself, perhaps a consequence of his wife's death a few months earlier, or, as contemporary speculation had it, out of frustration that he was relegated to caricature and could not succeed as a full-flown painter. If this is true, one can't help but wonder how he'd feel today, when the graphic arts are treated more and more as a serious art on the same level as the 'fine arts,' a regard Jozsef Farago's oeuvre certainly justifies, as evidenced by the examples reproduced here (along with several from Daumier).


Honore Daumier (1808-1879), Taking the oath of a new member of the Philanthropic society of 10 December. "I swear to beat up all those Parisians who refuse to shout along with me: 'Long live the Emperor!'" Le Charivari, September 28, 1850. Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.


Jozsef Farago, "Our Country's Greats in Paris, 1900." Farago 1902-51. Paper, ink, pen. 324 x 249 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery.


Left: Jozsef Farago, "Ten sculptures: Aurel Munnich," 1897. Farago 1902-118. Paper, ink, pen, brush. 291 x 238 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery. Right: Jozsef Farago, "Present and Future from, 1901." Farago 1902-50. Paper, ink, pen. 314 mm x 250 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery.


Jozsef Farago, "We Are Going to Live Forever, 1900." Farago 1902-54. Paper, ink, pen. 312 x 249 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery.


Jozsef Farago, "From the Exhibition Based on Istvan Csok's composition entitled 'Erzsebet B´thory,'" 1895. Farago F.61.202. Paper, ink, scrape. 255 x 385 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery.


Jozsef Farago. Farago 1907-341. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery.


Jozsef Farago, "Mutamur," 1905 korul. Farago 1903-327. Etching, 195 x 240 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery.


Jozsef Farago,"Kalman Tisza on the Corridors of the House of Parliament," 1903. Farago 1903-324. Etching. 422 x 318 mm. Owner: Hungarian National Gallery.


Honore Daumier (1808-1879). Caption: "First bleed, next purge, then use the seringe." La Caricature, December 5, 1833. Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.


Honore Daumier (1808-1879). Caption: "This one can be set free! He is no longer dangerous." 1834. La Caricature, September 11, 1834. Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.


Honore Daumier (1808-1879). Caption: "Lower the curtain, the farce is over!" La Caricature, September 11, 1834. Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.



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