Budapest Kunsthalle to emphasize traditional over contemporary art

September 13, 2014

Palace of art

The Kunsthalle (Műcsarnok) has been Hungary’s most important contemporary art gallery for decades. But all that is set to change. Now under the control of the Academy of Arts (MMA) led by the ultra-conservative 82-year-old culture czar György Fekete, the museum’s new director, George Szegő, presented the following manifesto on Thursday:

  • Art is not to criticize. Instead of tension the focus should be on aesthetics.
  • Religion should not be criticized because “there is no need to stir up tensions between the denominations”.
  • Instead of “mixed-media” art, the emphasis will be on traditional techniques, in particular painting, because it has 8-10,000 years of tradition.
  • The art gallery will hold a regular program of 19th-century “‘salon” exhibitions.
  • The “bubble will burst” for Western contemporary art.


Szegő (pictured here) criticised his predecessors Gábor Gulyás and Zsolt Petrányi, calling them leaders of the “small elite”, while his new leadership will see “popular, eye-catching exhibits”, adding that his “immediate predecessor (Gulyás) was characterized by a lack of self-reflection”.

After years of spending cuts, Szegő has been promised HUF 500 million (USD 2.1 million) a year for the operations of the venue, which it will receive direct from the MMA, almost double the HUF 270 million(USD 1.2 million) it received last year.

According to Academy of Arts director Fekete, there has been a lack of reverence towards the issues of nation and religion.