The Hungarian Pavilion at the Venice Biennials 威尼斯双年展中的匈牙利馆
The Architectural History 建筑的历史

Kinga Bódi
Zurich, 10. November, 2010


Art Gallery in Venice 101


The exhibition of the original photos and plans tried to show an overall picture about the history of the construction of the Hungarian Pavillon in Venice (Giardini) for the first time in Hungary. The first permanent Art Gallery of Hungary was built according to the plans of the Architect Géza Maróti (1875–1941) in the phrames of the Venice Biennial. The aim of the building was to house the international representation of the Hungarian fine arts every two years. The speciality of the building is not only its being permanent, rich art nouveau decoration, the prestigious place in Giardini and its dimensions but the date of the construction as well: Hungary was the second to be able to build its own national Art Gallery at the Venice Biennial.
The architectural history of the Hungarian Pavillon can be devided into three periods. The first is from 1909 until 1958 which means the building designed by Maróti. The realisation of the building lived up to the expectations of the art nouveau Gesamtkunstwerk-tendence of that time. The exteriors and enteriors are coined to Maróti, while the decorations were prepared by the art school of Gödöllő: mosaics by Aladár Körösfői-Kriesch, stained glass windows by Sándor Nagy and Miksa Róth, pyrogranit tiles by Zsolnay-factory from Pécs. At the exhibition preliminary plans from 1906 and 1908 could be seen, moreover the final plan from 1909, facade plans and ground plans, enteriors photos and pictures of the architectural decorations. On the one hand the speciality of the Hungarian Art Gallery is due to its rich ornamentation, on the other hand its unique architectural solution (glas roof with natural light to the exhibition enteriors) at that time.
The second period is from 1958 until 1992. During this decades  the building functioned in the form rebuilt by the Architect Ágost Benkhard (1910–1967). After the WW2 the Pavillon was almost in ruins and its renovation took place at the end of the fifties. The intention was to modernise the original appearance and decoration of the building according to the new trends living up to more simplyfied, pure forms. During the remodelling the Maróti architecture was completely removed (because of the dislike of art nouveau style of new social realism movement in the fifties and sixties), the main and side facades on the ground floor were walled up, the high roof and the first floor with the stained glass windows were demolished/disappeared, the mosaics were destroyed, the ornaments of the main gate were plastered up, the exhibition enteriors were completely remodelled: so the new building became a simple, white cubical building with a flat roof and an open enterior court. Besides the plans of Benkard earlier Italian and Hungarian remodelling drafts could be seen at the exhibition, moreover facade and enteriors pictures of the Pavillon functing until the beginnig of nineties.
Till the change of the regime nobody knew that the original building with the original mosaics is behind the wall from the fifties. Everybody suspected that the original art nouveau building disappeared for ever. But thanks to two art historians in 1992 it turned out that the Maróti’s building partly was preserved. So the third period of the building (1992 till today) began with the completely reconstruction of the authentic original Maróti’s building. The removal of the former architectural layers and the wall researches took place between 1992 and 2000 with the direction of two Hungarian art historians (György Sümegi and Pál Lővei). The reconstruction was realised according to the plans of the Architect György Csete (1937) from the year 1994. As a result of the reconstruction the exploration and restauration of the remaining art nouveau decorations took place, the removal of the wall from the fifties, as well as the rebuilding the roof structure. The Hungarian Pavillon in Venice has been housing Hungarian contemporary fine arts and architecture since 2000 in its original art nouveau style but satisfying the demands of our age with modern technical exhibition enteriors.
With this exhibition I wanted to demonstrate the vivid architectural history of the Hungarian Pavillon in Venice. I wanted to highlight this quite unknown history to a broader audience. My question was at the end of the exhibition: was the reconstruction reasonable or not? Because in 50 years social realist buildings will be considered as part of our heritage as well. So this question is open to debate.
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