Hungarian House of Photography
Earlier Exhibitions

George Eastman Hall

The Exhibition EXTENDED
to March 9, 2014

from till │ 1952 - 2013

Open to the public:
January 16 – March 9, 2014
on Weekdays: 14.00 - 19.00
at Weekends 11.00 - 19.00

Tamás Féner is one of the most characteristic figures of Hungarian photography’s so-called great elders. His works are steadily present on this profession’s invisible stage, at home and around the world alike. Do not regard this trite or commonplace, as it is not at all inevitable, no matter how talented the person is. Photography is a particularly slippery slope, cultivated by many – and many more, - considering it an easy genre. Its popularity, therefore, may be misleading. Being present in this otherwise quite vulnerable branch of art for 50 years really is something. It means that the practitioner is certainly talented. Not only does Féner have a sophisticated visual sensitivity, but also an unequaled intellectual preparedness. He is an educated man. He is well-read, informed, and hard-working. He has always presented his subjects and themes through a committed, complex context, carefully studying them from all aspects and writing great novels and not short stories about them. In the literal sense as well. Phrases, quotations, verbal references, that is verbality has played an equal role with the images. It, however, has never tipped off proportions, instead made the viewer get more engaged.

Recently, however, he expresses himself more and more tightly. In simple sentences. This exhibition is a corner stone, as well a great example of this process. The tension, as I mentioned earlier, is an important feature of the new landscapes. Closed geometry, a definite constructive rhythm, reticence, yet an emotion-rich content characterize these new works.

The title of the exhibition, however, covers a broader time period /1952-2013/; it gives a glimpse at Féner’s early amateur and professional photos as well. A real treat. We now know that his interest and photographs focused on the most important personalities of Hungarian cultural life. A real time travel.

Carrying on, it is worth taking a step through to the world of new images, where we encounter one of the most difficult forms of visual expression: landscapes with independent clauses and strict rhythms.

JERGER Krisztina art historian,
the director of the exhibition

In order to see – and not just to look at but to see – a decent post-Impressionist/pointillist painting, like a Seurat or a Seignac, the proper viewing distance has to be set long. From a little farther: it is a lean but normal impressionist painting; should we be a bit closer: it casts an image of spilled pinto beans waiting to be sorted out. The Ishihara Color Vision Test also has to be consulted to reveal number 9 in the pattern of the dots.

Now, this is exactly how I feel about my pictures. If I take a look at my work of the, say, last sixty years from a good distance, I can, I believe, see it as a whole in continuity. If I am too close, well, it is eclectic. Is it, or does it at all have to be about something? In any case, so far I could always explain my work, at least to myself, since others are not really interested in where it’s at.

The last series I exhibited showcased undoubtedly grim but at least – intendedly so – lyrical landscapes, images of gypsum, i.e. insubstantial statues with borrowed texts from here and there. I tried to give an account on the feeling of “Sam Small Flies Again” (by Eric Knight). What can I say? The concept did not work. Either. I’m afraid nobody realized that it was a kind of comic book. It is, of course, not a novel in the sense of the story; it is just a sort of loose but text-like series of speech bubbles, images, and sfumatos. Fine, this is not the first time that – to quote my friend Laci Fábián – I outwitted myself.

Fine. It didn’t work.

Ha! Switch
Sides with the cloke, Biberach.
(Katona: The viceroy)

Then let’s try something else. But nothing is just by itself.

There was a major Mednyánszky exhibition in the Virág Judit Gallery, and one of Imre Bukta’s in the Kunsthalle. Since I actually have never in my life thought of any good kind of silly, I always set off on a different track. In Mednyanszky’s pictures, I was not interested in the accented parts but the subtle bushy-woody structures on the side; while with Bukta, I searched for his relationship to the processed world.

The results:

I myself have taken a turn on my relationship to the world, reversing the relationship that beforehand was always alternating.

In my series of cities, and perhaps the one of landscapes as well, the problem laid in the horizon-vanishing point ratio (Fifth Postulate of Euclid), especially if the horizon completely or diagonally tilts. Now I reversed the whole story. The horizon is horizontal and it mostly halves or nearly bisects the frame. Aiming towards the infinite, the parallels get more accentuated and the frame line begins to rotate up to 45 degrees. Well, this then has all sorts of consequences. God, if I could just show this to Professor Csömöri who wanted to fail me from descriptive geometry at Madách… and how right he was! Because I have no spatial vision, he said. And indeed. I am completely tone-deaf and yet, I distress my environment with an intense listening to music… well, at least I can read.


(born: Budapest, November 17, 1938)
photojournalist, photographer, editor, teacher

1957: graduated from Madách Secondary School, then attended the School of the Association of Hungarian Journalists; For 25 years: editor of Fotóművészet (professional Photo Art magazine); 1957-86: journalist, photo editor, and art editor of Film Színház Muzsika periodical; 1986-1990: deputy editor-in-chief at Képes 7; 1991-1993: photo editor at Népszava (daily); 1993-1994: photo editor at Griff and Vasárnap (periodicals); 1994-1997: freelancer; 1997-2003: photo editor of Népszabadság Magazin; after retirement, professional consultant to the Hungarian News Agency.

1966: member of the Association of Hungarian Photographers, 1978-86 Secretary of the Association; 1976: founding member of the Studio of Young Photographers; 1996: becomes a member of Studio Nada. Member of the Photojournalist board at the Association of Hungarian Journalists; since 1979: member of the National Association of Hungarian Creative Artists. 1979: taught for some years at the school of the Association of Hungarian Journalists, as well as private schools. Since 1992: taught at the cultural anthropology department of ELTE University of Sciences, as well as at the late University of Design and ELTE’s Ethnography Institute. Currently gives lectures at the ELTE Media department.

At first, his mainly focused on the art world, specifically ballet. Photographs on this subject are not celebrity photos; rather, these are excellent portraits of dramatic effect on contemplative artist as they are gathering energy or showing fatigue. From the beginning of the 1970s, he worked with socio-documentarist, revealing, and analytical series with the definite interest to improve society. These photographs brought him fame. He photographed the life of gypsy settlements, then later recorded the life of a group of miners who, due to the exhibition of his photos, came to be known as the Brigade of Cserhalom. His work method was defined by immersion and developing relationships and relations. The series brought novelty to Hungarian photography with its choice of topic, approach, as well as editing. Never before has the theory of photography dealt with issues of content, form, and dramaturgy in photo series in Hungary.

His first exhibition showcasing color photographs was titled 1400 degrees. He studied color theory, searching for the colors that best suited his character, what he wanted to communicate, as well we his technique. His grand series on the life of Jews in Budapest from birth to death, following them from New Year to New Year was - amidst immense precautions – first banned and then opened in the Museum of Ethnography in 1983. Later, the series was also published as a book in several languages and editions. Since 1984, his attention has turned to landscapes and the image-landscape living in the urban human being: he shot images of the dismantlement of the Óbuda gas factory, as well as the plain of Hortobágy. Many have been inspired by the skewed horizon and unusual cut-outs on his cityscapes of Budapest, Rome and Berlin. His images later conjured images of his childhood with matching texts of remembering.

1971 – EFIAP
1973 – Balázs Béla Prize
1984 – Distinguished Artist
1997 – For Budapest medal
1998 – Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, Officer's Cross
2004 – Jewish Culture in Hungary Award
2005 – Eminent Artist
2007 – Príma
2008 – Scheiber Prize
2008 – Hazám Award
2010 – Kossuth Prize

1969 – Művészportrék – Fészek klub
1971 – Portrék – Műcsarnok
1974 – Két szociofotó-sorozat – Miskolci Galéria
1976 – Hétköznap: négy szociofotó-sorozat – Magyar Munkásmozgalmi Múzeum
1978 – 1400 fok – Magyar Munkásmozgalmi Múzeum
l981 – Tükörrepülés – Műcsarnok
1983 – „… és beszéld el fiadnak…” - Néprajzi Múzeum
1986 -… ez volt a gyár… - Magyar Munkásmozgalmi Múzeum
1988 – S.P.Q.R. – Magyar Nemzeti Galéria
1988 – Hortobágy – Fotóművészeti Galéria
1990 – Berlin-mal’ anders – Magyar Kultúra Háza, Berlin
1992 – Pepsiérzés – Vigadó Galéria
1994 – Táj/fény/kép – Legújabbkori Történeti Múzeum
1995 – Városi táj – Goethe Intézet
1996 – Budapest – Budapesti Történeti Múzeum
1996 – Más/kép/más – Budapest Galéria
2001 – Rokonaim, barátaim, üzletfeleim – Mai Manó Ház
2006 – Büntetés - Budapest Galéria
2007 – Fény/törés – Magyar Zsidó Múzeum
2009 – Potpourri – Mai Manó Ház
2011 – Confessiók fekete-fehérben – Csillaghegyi templom
2012 – Latiatuc feleym zumtuchel – Országos Széchenyi Könyvtár
2012 – Hokusz-Pokusz – Magyar Zsidó Múzeum

1972 – Warsaw
1979 – Berlin
1982 – Havana
1983 – Belgrade
1984 – Amsterdam, Paris, Gorizia
1985 – Milan, Kaunas
1986 – Heidenheim
1987 – Bitterfeld, Bredford
l988 – West-Berlin
1990 – Berlin, Sofia, Prague
1991 – Washington D.C.
1993 – Tel Aviv
1998 – Stuttgart
1994 – New York
2001 – Stuttgart
2009 – Warsaw

1976 – Kőszeg
1979 – Hétköznap
1984 – … és beszéld el fiadnak…
1984 – Jüdisches Lében- Jüdischer Brauch
1984 – Wiesbaden / …and you shall tell your son…
1993 – Fények által homályosan
1998 – Más/kép/más
2001 – Az idő, a tér, a forma
2003 – Arc/más
2010 – Féner


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Telephone: 473-2666
Fax: 473-2662

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