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The Kovács Gábor Art Collection from Munkácsy to Tóth Menyhért

Opening on 22 May, the János Tornyai Museum in Hódmezővásárhely will host an exhibition of more than 100 works from the 400-strong collection of Gábor Kovács (founder of the Gábor Kovács Art Foundation), which spans the history of Hungarian painting from the 18th to the mid-20th century.

Like every important private collection, Gábor Kovács’s too has a specific characteristic. A patron of the arts, Kovács started buying art over two decades ago with a view to creating a collection that fittingly represented modern Hungarian art. The collection spans art from the early eighteenth century to our day, and currently consists of some four hundred works. The main body of works represents naturalist landscape painting and a classical beauty ideal, with many other works of different themes.

The collection’s highly treasured gems include twenty works each by painters Károly Markó and János Vaszary, as well as rarities such as pictures by Ádám Mányoki, Mihály Munkácsy, Lajos Gulácsy and Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka, and a few works dating from the latter half of the twentieth century or the current age. Mr Kovács has a special intellectual affinity with artists such as Béla Kondor, Tóth Menyhért, Tibor Csernus and Zsuzsa Péreli.

Zsuzsa Péreli is the only contemporary artist whom Gábor Kovács collects systematically. Apart from an intellectual affinity, they have a long-standing friendship. Her Gobelin tapestries, collages and watercolours constitute a separate section in the exhibition, affording a cross-section of the artist’s oeuvre. Her Aequilibrium, with the angel hovering between heaven and earth, seeking a balance between the material and the spiritual, has become a symbol of the collector’s outlook on life in a quest for beauty and harmony.

After many exhibitions in Hungary and some important shows abroad, the ever-growing Gábor Kovács Collection goes to Hódmezővásárhely, near the collector’s birthplace, with a special selection that takes the visitor on a tour of perhaps the most exciting half-century in Hungarian painting.

 The exhibition is hosted with support from the Ministry of Human Resources, the Gábor Kovács Art Foundation, the Municipality of Hódmezővásárhely and the János Tornay Museum. It is open until 31 July 2016.

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By invitation of the former president of Bulgaria the Gábor Kovács Art Collection in Sofia

From the middle of October, the National Museum of Bulgarian Fine Arts presents the finest pieces of the Gábor Kovács Art Collection. The idea of the exhibition was proposed by former President of Bulgaria, Petar Stoyanov, and his wife, Antonina Stoyanova, friends of the well-known collector of art Gábor Kovács. Thanks to their initiative, the exhibit is presented in the newly restored temporary exhibition facility of Sofia’s National Museum of Bulgarian Fine Arts.

Opening soon, the exhibition entitled Modernist Endeavours of Hungarian Painting in the First Half of the 20th Century – A selection from the Gábor Kovács Art Collection features 84 masterworks, the most important pieces of the collection. The exhibits represent the history of Hungarian painting from the age of realism to the Second World War, from the 1870s till the end of the 1930s. Among other outstanding works, art lovers in Bulgaria will have the first opportunity to see Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka’s Mysterious Island, several pieces each by István Csók, József Egry, Károly Ferenczy, Lajos Gulácsy, Ödön Márffy, László Mednyászky, József Rippl-Rónai, Béla Kádár, István Szőnyi, as well as seventeen of János Vaszary’s most beautiful paintings.

The opening of the exhibition coincides with celebrations of the 1956 Hungarian revolution in the Bulgarian capital, with the former presidential couple as guests of honour. The expenses of the exhibit are jointly covered by the Kovács Gábor Art Foundation and the Values Foundation, which was established by the Stoyanovs. The National Museum of Bulgarian Fine Arts has graciously contributed the venue and operation costs.

This is the first time the Gábor Kovács Art Collection has been the guest of a foreign gallery, and the Bulgarian presentation is hoped to be the beginning of a series of further occasions elsewhere. 

National Museum of Bulgarian Fine Arts
1 Knyaz Alexander I Sqr., 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria

On view between 11 October and 2 December 2012.

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The Gábor Kovács Collection

Gábor Kovács has been purchasing works of art for fifteen years, with the intention of creating a collection that offers a worthy representation of the history of modern Hungarian painting. Covering the period from the early 18th century to the present, the collection is comprised of more than 250 masterpieces.

As every private collection of significance, Gábor Kovács’s too has a distinctive character, being a true reflection of its creator’s outlook, emotions and experiences, as well as his artistic interests. Growing up close to nature, the collector soon discovered the beauty of the world around him, its inherent creative power, and went on to look for beauty and goodness throughout his search for universal values. The character of the collection is defined by masterworks of naturalistic landscape painting which pay homage to the classic ideal of beauty, and for which the other pieces provide a harmonic addition. Twenty works each by Károly Markó the Elder and János Vaszary, as well as selected pieces of Béla Kádár and Menyhért Tóth, have become the most prized jewels in this treasury.

The collection offers an almost complete account of the development that began with the Romantic and Realistic landscape representations of the 19th century, continued with the plein air painting of the Nagybánya school, and ended with the ”isms of the first decades of the 20th century. The smaller works beautifully complement the chefs-d’œuvre, and there are true rarities like pictures by Ádám Mányoki, Mihály Munkácsy, Lajos Gulácsy or Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka. Continuously enlarged, the Gábor Kovács Collection is one of the most prestigious private art collections in Hungary.