SZĂ‰PMĹ°VĂ‰SZETI MĂšZEUM - Museum of Fine Arts. This is definitely worth another visit!
Itâ€™s my first morning in Budapest and I have plenty of free time for some exploringâ€¦ The only thing that isnâ€™t perfect is the weather, but Iâ€™m hoping that the rain will stop. I heard that there are some great exhibits at the SZĂ‰PMĹ°VĂ‰SZETI MĂšZEUM (museum of fine art). Some artists that I really like are Picasso, Kandinsky and Klee and the exhibit is titled Picasso, Kandinsky and Klee â€“ I definitely wanted to see this. So after a fantastic breakfast at the Corvinus Hotel, I asked at the hotelâ€™s reception about getting to the museum and they directed me to the subway (Budapestâ€™s subway is the oldest underground transport system in Europe).
I found that the museum is located in the â€śCity Parkâ€ť (VĂˇrosliget) area of Budapest with a number of interesting places to see, so I headed on my way.
The station closest to the Hotel is called DeĂˇk Ferenc tĂ©r and the museum is at a station called HĹ‘sĂ¶k Tere and is seven stops away. There were a surprisingly large number of American tourists doing exactly the same thing as I was. The subway in Budapest is very easy to use â€“ there are vending machines by the station entrances where you can buy tickets â€“ which you must validate when entering the station. There werenâ€™t any physical barriers to entering any of the stations I was in, but there are lots of subway employees checking that people have validated tickets â€“ both in the stations and on the trains.
The line I was on (M1) was amazingly clean. I didnâ€™t see any graffiti or trash thrown anywhere.
Jak Chapel - Vaydahunyad Castle.
The metro station at HĹ‘sĂ¶k Tere (Heroesâ€™ Square) is right across the street from the Fine Arts Museum, Palace of Art and the Millennium Monument. It was pouring rain, but for once Iâ€™d actually remembered to bring my umbrella with me. Crossing the street was an adventure! Not quite as bad as Naples, but I found you shouldnâ€™t expect drivers to brake for you! The museum hadnâ€™t opened yet when I got there, so I waited with a large group of people by the door until the museum employees opened.
PALACE OF ARTS - BUDAPEST
The museum of fine arts is in an enormous building and you could explore it and its exhibits for days. Since it was raining and I like museums (a lot!), I decided to see as much as I could. Aside from all of the exhibits, the building itself is worth seeing. I started with an exhibition from the museumâ€™s permanent collection about the Egyptian Middle Kingdom. It was interesting, with statues, alabaster cosmetics vessels, statuettes, coffins, mummies (sacred animals like crocodiles, cats and birds).
After the Egyptian exhibit I headed to another permanent exhibit dealing with ancient Mediterranean cultures and then to another with works of art in the period around 1900.
The paintings and sculptures in the exhibit cover what were new trends in art at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. One painting that I particularly liked is called â€śOne Worldâ€ť by Maximilian Lenz. A man, solemnly dressed as if for business, with a suit, etc., appears to be surveying or examining some land unaware of earth elementals or nymphs dancing around him. Itâ€™s an interesting combination of the modern world of progress and destruction being in the same place as Mother Nature. This painter is part of a 19th century movement called Symbolism in which art had a high degree of sensitivity and mysticism.
Autumn colors in Budapest
The next exhibit and highlight of the visit was the Picasso, Kandinsy and Klee â€“ Masterpieces from the Swiss Rupf Collection.
This collection, put together by Hermann Rupf and his wife is considered one of the most important private collections of modern classic arts. Rupf was born in Berne in 1880. He and his wife Margit began this collection in 1907. Their first acquisitions were works of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso which are considered the most important works of early cubism. This exhibition is really impressive, with works by Juan Gris, Braque, Picasso, Kandinsky, Klee and others. One work that I liked here is just a simple drawing by Picasso called â€śPortrait of D.H. Kahnweiler IIâ€ť (1957). Itâ€™s a simple drawing but I found it eloquent in getting across this manâ€™s mood and expression. I looked up D.H. Kahnweiler and found that he was an art gallery owner in Paris and was a friend of Hermann Rupf. He opened his first gallery in 1907 and was very interested in and supportive of modernist art which at the time was meeting fierce hostility from established opinion.
PALACE OF ARTS - Across Heroes' Square from the Museum of Fine Arts
Eventually he became a dealer for the Cubists and is considered â€śthe man who held the Cubists together.â€ť I spent quite a while looking at these paintings before heading to the museums surprisingly small cafeteria for a coffee. Of all the paintings I most enjoyed Kandinskyâ€™s works which remind me of a more polished and less sexually obsessed version of MirĂł.
The final exhibition that I saw at the museum of fine art is â€śA Magical Eccentric â€“ The Art of Friedensreich Hundertwasser.â€ť Friedensreich Hundertwasser was born in Vienna in 1928 as Friedrich Stowasser. He was a graphic artist, architect and painter. The exhibit includes paintings, graphic art and tapestries plus some of the artists writing which I found entertaining.
The painting and graphic arts are rich in bold colors and I found them very pleasant to look at. The adjective â€śeccentricâ€ť in the exhibition name is appropriate! Iâ€™ve done a little reading on him and he was indeed an eccentric character. He had interesting views on nature and harmony in the environment and said that mould growing on walls isnâ€™t a process to eliminate but rather the rightful need of nature to be present in our habitats. I copied his writing about postage stamps and will copy it here. One of the quotes of this artist is the following: â€śThe straight line is Godless.â€ť He said that straight lines and rulers should be eliminated. All of the works on display are hung below eye level in honor of the artistâ€™s wishes and are specially hung with wedges between the works and the walls so that they would not lie flat against the walls. He also used a very precise system of numbering and identification on his plates, typically including his signature (written by hand and applied in the form of a Japanese inkan seal, the date and place where he signed the work, his catalogue number, the title (or the workâ€™s â€śnameâ€ť as he preferred to call it, the number of copies made, and additional comments about the media and procedures used. Some of the paintings have interesting names, like â€śLittle Palace of Illness,â€ť â€śRelations of a Spider,â€ť â€śRain of Blood is Falling into the Garden,â€ť and â€śFlooded Sleep.
Hundertwasser Catalogue Cover
Monument to George Washington, Budapest in VĂˇrosliget (City Park)
After quite a few hours in the museum I walked across Heroesâ€™ Square around the Millennium monument, to the Palace of Art and then through VĂˇrosliget (City Park). The fall colors are really beautiful here and I took a lot of pictures, practicing with different settings to see how theyâ€™d turn out. I spent a lot of time around Vajdahunyad Castle which is interesting â€“ half is Gothic Style and the other half is Renaissance. There is an interesting Chapel there called Jak Chapel with a beautiful faĂ§ade. I was also surprised to see a monument to George Washington in city park.
Nice window in the renaissance section of the Vajdahunyad Castle.
It got pretty late and was getting very dark, so I ended up having a light dinner close to the hotel. Then I went to check out a club but was tired and ended up going to sleep way too early! I think that nightlife in Budapest is very promising...