The National Salon was conceived in 1894 with the aim of providing an opportunity to present contemporary Hungarian works of fine art and familiarising the general public with prominent artists.
From 1907, the venue for the regular exhibitions were housed in the so-called Kiosk on Elizabeth Square, designed by Alajos Hauszmann and later reconstructed by the Vágó brothers. After the institution was added to the Műcsarnok in 1953, it was terminated in 1960, after the largely successful spring Exhibition of 1957, and its building was demolished.
After the Hungarian Academy of Arts became a public body, the idea of the National Salon was revived upon the initiative of its president, György Fekete, and it was suggested that the display of only works of fine art would be replaced by the cyclical exhibition of all the branches of Hungarian visual arts. The debut show of the five-year cycles featured Hungarian architecture with good reason since this branch of the arts has provided the framework for all the sister arts for millennia and its successful masterpieces have inspired many other areas.
The 1st National Salon of Architecture, organised in 2014, was followed by a National Salon of Fine Arts in 2015, a National Salon of Photography in 2016, a National Salon of Applied Arts and Design in 2017, and the first cycle was closed in 2018 by a National Salon of folk Art, titled Hand/Craft/Art.
The Műcsarnok’s professional organisation work, the well-chosen curators and the selected works by prominent artists justified the launching of the second cycle of the National Salon; this was also confirmed by the success and the growing number of visitors.
Although the 2nd National Salon of Architecture brings a selection from the last five years, the positive investment climate and increased volume of development projects in this period produced enough works worthy of being exhibited and suitable for providing a comprehensive panorama of our contemporary architecture. While the concept of the first salon focused on praising creativity, this year’s exhibition seeks to highlight the diverse nature of architectural quality.
The oeuvre of István Medgyaszay – who passed away sixty years ago and was regrettably omitted from Hungarian architectural history due to political reasons – is exhibited in a prominent place: in the apse of the museum interior. Medgyaszay is one of the forerunners of organic architecture, who combined forms of folk architecture with reinforced concrete, a novelty in his time. We trust that this exhibition will contribute to restoring him to the place in architectural history that is deservedly his.
The objective set by the initiators of the National Salon – bringing contemporary artists and their works to the public – is hoped to be also met through the conferences and guided tours that complement the events related to the exhibition.
Vice-president of the Hungarian Academy of Arts