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Aba-Novák Vilmos

The painter who was declared a genius by Pablo Picasso…

Aba-Novák (1894-1941) wanted to be an artist right from his childhood – he often traded his toys for drafting tools to practice his hobby that later became his profession. During WW I. he was serving in the army,  his right arm got injured and temporally paralyzed in a battle, almost ending his career even before it could have started.

After returning from the war he started to work as an art teacher while taking lessons himself from various painters and studying at the Academy of Decorative Arts. His talent showed and got him recognition from the beginning, his work was well-accepted on exhibitions in Hungary and abroad (Rome, Firenze, Venice, Moscow, Cleveland, Zürich, Stockholm) as well and got him several prizes and scholarships.

In his early years he created mainly drawings and etchings, later he started to paint, preferring tempera, a medium that suited perfectly his unique world of bold, lively colors and simple forms. His versatile subjects include landscapes, a series of town views of Mediterranean harbors painted in his Italian years, scenes of Transylvanian villages, portraits and nudes, and scenes of carnival and circus life and village fairs – he even created several award winning frescos and murals in Hungarian churches.

At the 1937 World Expo in Paris the Hungarian exhibition featured Aba-Novák’s grandiose, 14 pieces panel painting titled ‘1000 years of the Hungarian-French relations’ that won the Grand Prix. According to the anecdote, when Pablo Picasso saw this work he exclaimed: ‘Who is the barbaric genius who made this?’

He died in 1941, at the age of only 47. The communist era following WW II. in Hungary tried to completely obliterate his work, his paintings and his art started to regain the popularity and recognition they deserve only after the changes around 1990. Today, he is regarded as one of the greatest Hungarian modernist artists.

His paintings – digitally cleaned and colors restored – are available as print in my store.

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