Hungarian House of Photography
Earlier Exhibitions

Mai Manó Gallery ("Kis Manó")

Visiting the exhibition
Photographs by Manó Mai

Open to the public:
November 17 – December 04 2011
on Weekdays: 14.00 - 19.00
at Weekends 11.00 - 19.00

Few years ago, when I first pronounced and put down Manó Mai’s name, people could think that I was only kidding. Since then a lot of them have learnt, that „Maimanó” is a beautiful art gallery in Terézváros district of Budapest. So it is all clear now. Time has come that they all get to know, moreover come and see that the builder of this gorgeous atelier is called Manó Mai, or if preferred Emanuel May, who was an extraordinary talented photographer during the turn of the century. Meritedly he is again becoming in the focus of common interest.

There are only few European towns, where a house being built during the last century, used to function as a photographer’s art gallery and serve as his home at the same time, has been preserved in such a good condition, and it is still serving the art of photography with all its accessories, like: the 3 sunshine- ateliers, richly ornamented waiting-rooms, allegorical figures of photography and painting nicely decorating the facade. It is a treasure for Budapest, for Hungarian architecture, but mainly for Hungarian photography. This album and the exhibition organised in his own house are both dedicated to say thank you to Manó Mai for letting us the opportunity to see his photos and the fascinating building at one place.

If the following bare information stood here about Mr. Mai, like he was master of photography, one of the best child-photographer of his age, royal photographer from 1885, we would not discover anything special about him, as at that time there were plenty of photographers with similar qualities. But we have to add, that he was founder and later senior editor of magazine called The Light. Started in 1906 it is still the beyond compare reference magazine of Hungarian photography. Furthermore he was the most respected expert of his age that even photographers of rival galleries honoured him.

His father, Henrik Mai was doctor of philosophy and medicine, and worked in Buda as a high-school professor. He opened a private institute. Manó Mai was a prentice from his age of 14 at Péter Kalmár’s photo-studio in Andrássy Street, while he was studying drawings in the evenings. Later he continued his studies at Boros and Koller Co. At his age a „real” artist must have had international experience, too. So he spent 2 years at Leopold Bude’s studio in Graz. Coming back to Hungary he worked in the dark-room of Professor Koller’s studio. After 8 years of studying hard he became a private photographer. He established a small studio at the corner of Kaiser William and Andrá ssy Street on a deserted territory.

In 1885 he was directing 3-4 prentices, he became a boss. He took mainly in-hall portraits of the upper middleclass. We can also find some report-like photos of his early period. Some of them are involved in the selection of the album and exhibition, too.

In 1885 he was a founder member of Young Photographers’ Literary and Grant-in-aid Society. He was involved in establishing National Association of Hungarian Photographers. He was elected as President of Photographers’ Round Table in 1896. Later he was awarded with several certificates of merit. For example in 1900 his photos were honoured with gold medal in Paris World Expo.

This album was issued by Ab Ovo Publishing House in corporation with Hungarian Museum of Photography. More than 100 photos taken by Manó Mai are presented including an essay by Péter Nádas and a study on photography by Károly Kincses. Original pictures are on show in a special atmosphere: Manó Mai’s living rooms and bathroom were converted into an exhibition area.


Hungarian House of Photography in Mai Manó House
H-1065 Budapest-Terézváros, Nagymező utca 20.
Telephone: 473-2666
Fax: 473-2662

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