Imre Bak passed away

Date: 2022.12.23
“You need to make each painting as if your life depended on it. (…) My entire life I have been seeking to create quality art. Already at university, some of us set ourselves the goal of creating art that is up to international standards”, said Imre Bak, who passed away on 23 December 2022 at age 83, in a recent interview.

A prominent figure of Hungarian neo-avant-garde, and a Kossuth and Herder Award winning painter, he was named among the ten most expensive living Hungarian artists by műtárgy.com. His   last workplace before dedicating himself entirely to painting was MOME’s predecessor the Hungarian College of Applied Arts. Between 1987 and 1991 he worked as the director of our university’s former Cultural Theory and Teacher Training Institute, from 1987 as an associate professor, and from 1990 as a university professor.

He graduated from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts with a major in painting in 1964 and became a member of the iconic Zugló Circle and the IPARTERV generation. At the beginning of his career, his work was chiefly influenced by hard edge and colour field, and he devoted nearly all his oeuvre to geometric abstraction. Until the 1970s, his compositions chiefly reflected American minimalism, which he later infused with overseas and European non-figurative traditions. In the 1980s, influenced by postmodernism, he used highly diverse motifs drawing on Art Nouveau, Baroque and folk art and Hungarian painting traditions. From the 1990s, his compositions showed a kinship with architectural structures before shifting the focus on emphasising spatial depth. His latest paintings once again featured networks consisting of horizontal and vertical lines and bearing painting history references, marking a return to the fundamental concepts of geometric painting, including how to create the illusion of space using two dimensional methods.

His paintings laid the foundations of a new institutional collection – MNB Ingatlan Kft.’s contemporary collection, and found their way into major contemporary museums around the world. They are featured in outstanding foreign public collections such as the Tate Modern in London, Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, MUMOK in Vienna, Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich, and the National Gallery in Bratislava, and Hungarian museums such as the Hungarian National Gallery and Ludwig Museum – Contemporary Art Museum and the King Saint Stephen Museum in Székesfehérvár. 

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