Hungary’s photographic legacy

A shout to everyone interested in photography out there to go and see ‘Eyewitness: Hungarian photography in the 20th Century‘ showing at the Royal Academy of the Arts. A brilliant display of how Hungarian photography has left an ‘enduing legacy to international photography’, not only through photo journalism but also through fashion and art photography.

It showcases work by Brassaï, Robert Capa, André Kertész, László Moholy-Nagy and Martin Munkácsi, and gives us an overarching insight to the complexities of Hungarian history. A country tainted by invasion, occupation, political turmoil and censorship which forced many of the country’s artists to work in exile. This may in turn be the reason for why much of the Hungarian photography has not gained the recognition it deserves.

Looking over the displayed work one is struck by the poetic yet often dynamic visualisations, perceptive to angles and arrangements. It often shows tragic destinies and situations explicitly, while still, in some remarkable way, retaining humanity and dignity. The intensity of the photographs expresses the sensitivity which can be identified in those unsettled, who are trying to find way of understanding what goes on around them through documenting and sharing with others. It’s as much an expression of solitude as it is of a national bond founded in collective hardships and experiences.

The exhibition showcases work which has influenced artists and photographers across genres, and will continue to do so for many years to come.


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