Hungary

Hungary
7 records
At the turn of the twentieth century, Hungary was still part of the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire. While a treaty had ensured the country’s considerable political autonomy, its nationalists sought complete independence. Folk art and native traditions assumed special meaning in the quest for a separate identity. Hungarians looking for the ultimate representation of a Magyar (Hungarian) culture that was as distinct as possible from Vienna found it in the region of Transylvania. Hungary’s design reformers considered the crafts and buildings of Transylvania (now part of Romania) to be Hungary’s oldest heritage and cherished them accordingly. They formed home-industry associations (most often devoted to textiles and ceramics) there to preserve vernacular traditions, as well as to enable people to earn a better living while remaining in a rural environment.

In Hungary, the Arts and Crafts movement was mostly allied to progressive forces calling for social reform and a new modernism forged from a greater understanding of the past. Ödön Lechner, who designed the new National Museum of Decorative Arts in 1896, declared: “We have to study this Hungarian folk style as if it were a language.” He and other artists drew from Asian sources as well, since Asia, especially India, was considered to be a cultural ancestor of Hungary. His work and that of a group of architects he mentored—the Fiatalok (Young Ones)— expressed Romantic Nationalism in Hungary.

- Wendy Kaplan (2005)