Lajos Kassák's Legacy
The works of art, the publications and the manuscripts that form the basis of the collection came to the Petőfi Literary Museum as a courtesy of Mrs. Lajos Kassák Klára Kárpáti. As a result of the continuous collection, the current stock of the museum is about 1700 works of fine art, 17000 letters and manuscripts, more than 3000 photographs, almost 4000 books, periodicals and prints and more than 200 relics.
Alongside Lajos Kassák’s artistic legacy, the Kassák Museum also holds significant related archival material: Kassák’s correspondence, manuscripts, photos and private library. The correspondence and manuscripts, which date from the early twentieth century until the end of the 1970s, provide insights into Kassák’s personal life, career, relationships, and the work of the Kassák Circle, as well as the international networks and cultural milieu within which Hungarian avant-garde artists worked. The primary sources and documents in our care offer unique resources for research into the reception of the Hungarian avant-garde. The correspondence and analects are supplemented by rich photographic materials (portraits, group pictures, event pictures, and photos of art objects and exhibitions), as well as manuscripts (drafts of poems and novels), and documents relating to Kassák’s various periodicals. The museum is also home to Lajos Kassák’s private library, which contains countless first editions and museum-piece editions. The museum-piece book materials are supplemented by a specialist library of the most up-to-date research into Hungarian and international modernism and the avant-garde.
The greater part of our collection of over half a thousand avant-garde periodicals comes to us from Lajos Kassák’s legacy. This collection is unique in Hungary, and our Kassák publications are augmented by countless titles of the Hungarian and international avant-garde movement, many of which appeared in limited print runs (periodicals, exhibition catalogues, flyers and anthologies). We also hold international avant-garde periodicals published between 1910 and 1950, which represent an important research resource not only because of their rarity, but also their significance as a historical collection. These German, Austrian, Italian, French, Dutch, British, American, Czech, Romanian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Croatian and Japanese periodicals document the international context within which Kassák and the other Hungarian avant-garde artists worked, and may also be used as a basis from which to reconstruct the Kassák group’s international network of contacts. Our holdings also include Italian futurist publications collected by the avant-garde actor, director and journalist Andor Tiszay, during his time spent in Italy in the mid-1920s. Much like the rest of our periodical collection, the Tiszay library contains numerous signed, annotated and even re-drawn publications, and thus may be regarded as seminal communication media of the international avant-garde.
The historical core of our materials is further supplemented by a smaller contemporary collection, which consists mostly of related works by artists who were inspired by Kassák in creative or theoretical terms. This collection was augmented by Kassák’s wife Klára Kárpáti in 1968, and later in 1866 by a public call from the Slovak artist Juraj Meliš. Since then, further works have been constantly added by modernist artists, among them Imre Ámos, Imre Bak, Béla Czóbel, Tibor Gáyor, István Haász, Károly Halász, Juraj Meliš, István Nádler, Dóra Maurer, Joseph Kádár, R. József Juhász, György Kepes, and Victor Vasarely.