Amerigo Tot – Paralel Constructions

09. October 2009. – 03. January 2010.
MegnyitóOpening: October 8, 2009, 7:00 pm
MegnyitjaRemarks by: Péterfy Gergely
KurátorCurator: Mélyi József
The recent past of Hungarian sculpture is full of names no one has mentioned recently: the works of József Somogyi, Pál Pátzay, Jenő Kerényi or Miklós Borsos still stand in public spaces, the libraries still keep those old volumes about them, but they hardly ever occur among the references of today’s contemporary artists.

Art historians are also at a loss; lacking a context today, these oeuvres – usually stamped "officially approved art" – are put out of view. A pity, because without them it is difficult to understand not only the history of our art and our past in general, but also why we now think about space and vision the way we do.

If there ever was a star sculptor in Hungary, it was Amerigo Tot, in the seventies and eighties. When he returned home in the late sixties, past the middle of an adventurous life, he – together with Vasarely – was the embodiment of the world-famous émigré Hungarian artist.

It has been pointed out repeatedly that Tot was world-famous only in Hungary, and his art is now all but forgotten. Apart from the large frieze in the Termini station of Rome, none of his works are mentioned in Italian specialist literature, and by now he has been completely dropped from general discussions of Italian sculpture in the 20th century.

His once celebrated art is now scarcely known even in Hungary, and the man, a truly interesting person, was soon forgotten after the political transition. The present exhibition discusses, among other things, the process of forgetting, and flashes up Tot’s legends, the circumstances of his homecoming, the Hungarian reception and afterlife of his works.

We want to see, above all, how political intent influenced contemporary art in the period in question, especially the sixties. What considerations lead to a cultural opening towards those Western European countries where there was a strong political left, particularly France and Italy? What concrete manifestations of this opening can be identified?

The proposed exhibit will have three basic parts: it will introduce the sculpture of Amerigo Tot, the historical period in which he lived and worked, and it will try to position his art – and through him, a by now forgotten era of Hungarian sculpture – in a contemporary context. The display will feature original works by Tot, sculptures and sketches, documentation, films and original documents, and works contemporary artists make for this exhibit, which reflect directly on Tot’s works. The three parts form an integral whole, which also seeks to evoke the charming and versatile person Tot was – an occasional actor, he played Michael Corleone’s bodyguard in Godfather II -, with a background created most all of by Rome in the fifties and Hungary in the seventies.

One of the keywords of the project is a term used by Little Warsaw in recent years, "instoration" – restoration and reinstallation – which now means highlighting the original context and repositioning. The exhibition offers a new reading, through a new context, of the person and art of a forgotten artist from a forgotten age.