MIKLÓS ERDÉLY

Budapest, 1928 – Budapest, 1986

Hungarian artist, teacher, theorist, filmmaker, was an important catalyst on the unofficial Hungarian art scene during the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. In 1947 he began his training as sculptor at the College of Fine Arts in Budapest which he left, and continued his studies in the studio of Dezső Birman Bokros (1889-1965). From 1947 to 1951 he studied architecture at and graduated from the Technical University in Budapest. During the 50th and early 60th he worked as architect, and besides he began experimenting with painting and graphic art, as well as writing poems and shorts stories. During this period he became acquainted with the former members of the Európai Iskola (European School) (among others Dezső Korniss), with the representants of the so called „surnaturalism” (among others László Lakner) and, most importantly with Béla Kondor (1931–1972) and Sándor Altorjai (1933–1979), with whom he began a lifelong friendship. In 1959 and 1963 he enrolled at the College of Theatre and Film Arts in Budapest, but he was advised to leave before the term to began, both times.

From 1962 Erdély lived with his family at Buda in a house which he later rebuilt, and which was a venue for artistic events and a meeting-place for artists in the 1960s and later. These included for example Tamás Szentjóby (1944) and Gábor Altorjay (1944), the authors of the „first Happening in Hungary”. Erdély became interested in many of the developements of the time, such as happenings and the work of the Fluxus group, he himself, however, felt greater affinity with conceptual art and took part in the late 1960s and early 1970s in a number of avant-garde exhibitions and programs with his conceptual ‘textual actions’ and series of photographs accompanied by texts. He also began to make films, although none of his films was shown officially in Hungary until the 1980s. The theoretical background to his films was his theory of montage, published in 1966, with its emphasis on repetition and change, its principle of ‘meaning negation’ and its admission of the role played by intuition and inspiration.

During 1975 and 1976 he ran a series of so-called „creative exercises”. From these activities grew out in 1978 the INDIGO (INterDIszciplináris GOndolkodás, Hung.: ‘interdisciplinary thought’) group, which was conceived as an experimental teaching studio, drawing on modern artistic processes, educational methods influenced by Eastern philosophical traditions and many other sources, and it provided and important forum for a new generation of Hungarian artists, such as Ildikó Enyedi (1955), András Böröcz (1956), László László Révész (1957), János Sugár (1958) etc. It was only in the 1980s, however, that Erdély achived public recognition for his work, which encompassed both social and spiritual concerns and emphasized the underlying affinities between art and science.