The Reinvention of Black

As the means of creating the color black have changed, so have the subjects it represents.

Suddenly, black was everywhere. It caked the flesh of miners and ironworkers; it streaked the walls and windows of industrial towns; it thickened the smoky air above. Proprietors donned black clothing to indicate their status and respectability. New black dyes and pigments created in factories and chemical laboratories entered painters’ studios, enabling a new expression for the new themes of the industrial age: factory work and revolt, technology and warfare, urbanity and pollution, and a rejection of the old status quo. A new class of citizen, later to be dubbed the “proletariat,” began to appear in illustrations under darkened smokestacks. The industrial revolution had found its color.

Black is technically an absence: the visual experience of a lack of light. A perfect black dye absorbs all of the light that impinges on it, leaving nothing behind. This ideal is remarkably difficult to manufacture. The industrialization of the 18th and 19th centuries made it easier, providing chemists and paint-makers with a growing palette of black—and altering the subjects that the color would come to represent. “These things are intimately connected,” says science writer Philip Ball, author ofBright Earth: The Invention of Color. The reinvention of black, in other words, went far beyond the color.

Bideford black is an extraordinary material,” says Onya McCausland, a doctoral candidate in fine art at University College London. She is talking about a black pigment found in the Carboniferous formation that runs from Wales to Devon in England. Mined from the 18th to the 20th centuries, it was considered one of the best coal-based black pigments available. “Its texture is soft and velvety,” McCausland says. “It produces a very dense, bluish-black. If I want the black to be really immersive and dense, I’d use Bideford black.”

Bideford black was one of many carbon-based black pigments used from the 16th through the 19th centuries in Europe. Charcoal was the inexpensive mainstay, though it produced a gritty paint that was difficult to apply. Bone black (ground from burnt bones) gave a warm brownish black, while lamp black (burnt vegetable oils) and vine black (charred grapevines or other vegetable products) gave cooler shades. Black derived from ground ivory was perhaps the richest of the lot.

This dark arsenal of dyes supported an evolving but particular set of subjects and themes. For centuries, black was a color of death and evil. The Egyptian jackal-headed god Anubis, who guided souls to the afterlife, almost always appeared as a black figure, his skin matching the blackened flesh of mummified bodies. When the devil began to appear in European art, in the 11th century, he too was usually a nightmarish black.

Black also developed a second identity around this time representing the asceticism favored by monks, as noted by the French historian Michel Pastoureau. By the 15th century, black garb had become a fixture of regal courts in Europe, connoting power and privilege. Soon after, the growing middle class also adopted black garments to represent their growing wealth, as well as their piety.

Seeking to reflect the wealth around them, 16th- and 17th-century artists used this broad palette of blacks to distinguish the different tones and textures of their sitters’ sumptuous clothes. “In the late Middle Ages, black became the color of distinction,” says Ball.

The arrival of the industrial revolution in the 18th century sparked advances in mining technology that boosted the output of coal-based pigments including Bideford black, while simultaneously driving up demand. Bideford black was ideal for polishing up the cast iron stoves that swept into kitchens during the period, for example, and it also fuelled local lime kilns.

Black, which seemed to obscure and remove color and life, invited a new inner life.

Coal could also be baked in hot, airless ovens to drive off water and gasses to make coke, a high-carbon fuel useful for cooking, heating, and smelting ores. By the early 19th century, the purified coal-gas generated in this process—containing hydrogen and hydrocarbons—was being burned to light factories and streets. And when chemists began to investigate the sticky black waste left behind after coking or gasification, they found a rich source of organic molecules that would come to overshadow coal itself as a direct source of pigment.

In the 1840s, August Hofmann extracted aniline (a benzene ring connected to a nitrogen-containing amine group) from coal tar. Then in 1856, William Perkin, a student of Hofmann’s, oxidized aniline to create a deep purple dye, subsequently called mauve. This marked the birth of a completely new industry: synthetic dyes. By 1860, other researchers had found that oxidizing aniline under different conditions, using sulfuric acid and potassium dichromate, created a new black pigment: aniline black. The reaction fuses together 11 aniline molecules to make a complex chain of benzene rings connected by nitrogen atoms. Mixed in paint or ink, it produces a neutral, matte black also known as Pigment Black 1.

This compound—and many other synthetic organic blacks—would be produced on an enormous scale for printing and dying cloth. They also opened up new possibilities for black ink, which had traditionally been made with lamp black or iron gall. Soluble synthetic organic dyes were much more versatile, and could be mixed with different solvents to create just the right consistency of ink for applications as diverse as ballpoint pens, felt-tip pens, and spray paints.

Around the middle of the century, paint-makers began to offer a synthetic inorganic black pigment known as Mars black. It was made by reacting iron sulfate with an alkali such as lime or caustic soda—all chemicals that were in widespread use at the time— to make iron oxide. Mars black had a much smaller particle size than its natural equivalent. This made it handle well on the brush, and gave better coverage on the canvas. And it had a greater tinting strength than even ivory black, making it probably the most opaque black available at the time.

Mars black also dried much faster than carbon blacks. That is because linseed oil, the favored medium in oil painting, dries not by losing water, but through a series of chemical transformations. Its fatty acids react with oxygen from the air and then join together to form polymers. In most colored oil paints, metal salts in the pigments catalyzed this reaction. Sometimes drying agents, such as lead white, were added to speed up the process. But that was not possible with black, as it would wash out the dark hue—and since most black pigments were made of carbon, rather than metal salts, that meant that the black areas of oil paintings dried slowly and unevenly. The result is that blacks are often the most cracked areas of old paintings.

Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali used Mars black, and said of Jacques Blockx, who developed one of the earliest commercial Mars black oil paints, “This man, who never painted, will contribute more to the painters of tomorrow than what we will have accomplished, all the modern painters together.”

Michelangelo Merisi
da Caravaggio used ivory black to convey asceticism, piety, and inspiration in his 1605-6 painting, St Jerome Writing.
Michelangelo Merisi
da Caravaggio used ivory black to convey asceticism, piety, and inspiration in his 1605-6 painting, St Jerome Writing.

In the 20th century, a flood of new black paints would inspire a new set of artistic styles that took on modern subjects and themes. “Black was increasingly connected with industry, technology, and the urban environment,” says Erma Hermens, who leads the Technical Art History Group at the University of Glasgow. “Black becomes a statement.” Black also helped artists to delineate a new period in the history of art. “It was saying that the time of classical painting was past,” says Ball, “that we’re using modern materials in a modern way.”

The starting pistol for this movement was Black Square by Polish-Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, first exhibited in 1915. A very early example of abstract painting, it is simply a square of canvas covered in black paint. Malevich called his style “Suprematist.” Relying on simple shapes and a limited palette, it marked an absolute rejection of the depiction of objects in favor of pure expression. Tellingly, the painting was mounted high in the corner of the room, where Russian Orthodox icons would traditionally have been placed—a rejection of religion in favor of the secular. “It symbolized the collapse of traditional values and social structure,” says Belgian artist Frederik De Wilde—processes that had been hastened by the industrial revolution and its creation of new socioeconomic classes.

Malevich grew up in Tsarist Russia, and trained in a series of art schools in Kiev and Moscow. In 1913 he designed the set and costumes for Victory over the Sun, an avant-garde opera that saw “futurist strongmen” rip the sun from the sky, ending its decadent reign and freeing the future from time itself.

These themes—decrying the status quo, and looking ahead to a new world—were common in the Russian avant-garde of the time, and they fed into the growing demands for societal change that resulted in the Russian revolutions of 1917. Malevich would join the People’s Commissariat for Enlightenment in 1918, but by the 1930s his work had been labeled anti-Soviet and degenerate. After he died in 1935, his coffin was adorned with a black square.

Malevich’s work inspired abstract artists such as Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko, who all made heavy use of black in their work. Whereas Malevich used a spectrum of carbon blacks in his paintings, from ivory black to lamp black, his successors wanted to reflect the rapid technological changes in society through the materials they used, and went looking for new black paints. As Pollock said in 1951: “It seems to me that the modern painter cannot express his age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or any other past culture. Each age finds its own technique.”

Black opens up a mental field all of its own.

Pollock repurposed enamel paints that were intended for painting cars or interior decorating for his art. Developed in the 1930s, enamel paints typically used synthetic iron oxide or mass-produced carbon black pigments suspended in polyesters known as alkyds, which readily cross-polymerize in air and dry to a hard, glossy finish. They gave Pollock’s “drip paintings” a sheen that emphasized their explosive power, and a durability that continues to please conservators. His liberation from the materials of the past was echoed by the physical freedom he enjoyed while creating his paintings, striding around canvases laid on the floor like a sculptor working around a lump of stone. He rarely planned what his paintings would represent—instead, it was an act of instinctual expression. The results evoke moods that range from joy to chaos.

In the early 1950s Pollock created a series of works that relied almost entirely on black, often pouring globs of thick enamel paint onto the canvas. The paintings were a reaction against his earlier, more colorful abstracts. Seemingly stung by some critics’ claims that these earlier pictures were merely decorative, Pollock set out to produce determinedly difficult works: This would disabuse “the kids who think it’s simple to splash a Pollock out,” he explained in a 1951 letter.

This stance was shared by Ad Reinhardt, who produced a series of all-black paintings that were first exhibited in 1963. One, called Abstract Painting, is a huge black square composed of nine smaller squares, each of subtly different blacks: The squares at the corners have a red tinge, while the others have a hint of blue or green. Reinhardt described it as “a free, unmanipulated, unmanipulatable, useless, unmarketable, irreducible, unphotographable, unreproducible, inexplicable icon.”

Pollock’s and Reinhardt’s rejection of the usual literal forms of representational painting was, in a sense, strengthened by the rejection of color itself. Black enabled a pure abstraction, and amplified the turning away from the aesthetic values of the Renaissance and Enlightenment that had been displaced by the same industrial technologies creating the new pigments of the modern era.

The displacement of literal representation opened room for a new meaning of the color: negation, contemplation, and spirituality. In the words of the French artist Pierre Soulages, black “opens up a mental field all of its own.” He began his epic journey into blackness in 1947, when he started creating abstract expressionist works using a dark walnut stain to make bold slashes across canvas. By the 1950s he was working in oils, thickly smeared onto surfaces using a palette knife. And in 1979, he began a new series of works in a style he dubbed “Outrenoir”—roughly translated as “beyond black”—with canvases completely saturated in black.

Transcendence and negation also inspired the American painter Mark Rothko, who produced a series of black paintings in the 1960s. For Rothko, the negation of color and light represented “doorways to the unknown,” and invited spiritual contemplation. In the words of the Tate Gallery, the paintings introduce “an element of duration and physical self-awareness into the process of perception.” Black, which seems to obscure and remove color and life, invited a new inner life. Some of Rothko’s black paintings were commissioned for a Catholic church in Houston, today known as the Rothko Chapel, making their spiritual dimension explicit.

The new industrial black pigments had another attractive feature that was altogether more prosaic: They were cheap. This was a key factor for abstract artists who wanted to cover large canvases. Industrial quantities of mass-produced paint let them work on an industrial scale. “They painted as though they were painting industrial structures,” says Ball.

Motherwell, for example, painted more than 100 paintings in his series Elegies to the Spanish Republic, many of which measured more than 9 feet across. Featuring large black ovals on a pale background, he called the series a “funeral song” inspired by the Spanish Civil War. This war was, itself, a conflict only conceivable in the industrial age, taking the lives of 700,000 people in three years and sparking the first-ever air-raid bombings of civilians. For Motherwell, the contrast between the dark ovals (rendered in black acrylic paints, which blended pigment with polymers of acrylic esters) and their background represented a contrast between life and death, while the ovals were reminiscent of the testicles of dead bulls displayed after a bullfight.

Black acrylic paints form deep ridges in Pierre Soulages’ Painting 2009. The effect recalls ripples on a moonlit lake—or the enormous gear-wheels of an infernal machine.
Black acrylic paints form deep ridges in Pierre Soulages’ Painting 2009. The effect recalls ripples on a moonlit lake—or the enormous gear-wheels of an infernal machine.

To describe NanoBlck-Sqr #1 as a black square seems not only obvious, but a gross understatement. Created by De Wilde, this meter-wide artwork is an all-encompassing void of utter black. As Spinal Tap’s lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel once said: “It’s like, how much more black could this be? The answer is none. None more black.”

The surface of NanoBlck-Sqr #1 is coated with a forest of carbon nanotubes that trap more than 99.99 percent of the light that falls on them. Exhibited in London earlier this year, its complete lack of discernable features produces a sense of limitless depth—viewers have an urge to reach right into the space it creates. “It’s like a visible black hole—that’s a very powerful effect,” says Narayan Khandekar, the director of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at the Harvard Art Museums in Massachusetts.

The artwork continues the intersection of science and aesthetics that has so characterized the history of the color black. As an art student, De Wilde was frustrated by the lack of innovation in painting and sculpture. He believed that using the most advanced materials in his art would offer a way to represent science and innovation’s broader influence on society. De Wilde cites the French artist Yves Klein as a key inspiration. In 1955, Klein collaborated with a Parisian chemical manufacturer to create a new shade of blue—similar to ultramarine—dubbed International Klein Blue. The secret was not to invent a novel pigment, but to combine it with a polyvinyl acetate resin that gave full reign to the pigment’s intense color.

In the mid-2000s, De Wilde realized that he might be able to control the behavior of reflected light by tailoring pigments at the nanoscale. So he started searching for scientific collaborators. “If you look at the history of nanotechnology, you arrive at Rice University in Texas,” says De Wilde. Rice was home to Robert Curl and Richard Smalley, who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Harold Kroto of the University of Sussex for their discovery of nano-sized spherical shells of carbon atoms (C60).

In 2010, De Wilde began collaborating with chemist Pulickel Ajayan at Rice, and soon producedHostage pt.1, a black square not much bigger than a postage stamp that was billed as the blackest painting ever made.

“With my black squares, I’m anticipating the creation of a new society,” says De Wilde. “It’s very related to the artworks of Malevich.” But while De Wilde may have been inspired by Malevich, his techniques were beyond anything available during Malevich’s time: He made his blacks by manipulating light on scales smaller than a single wavelength.

De Wilde created the work by first sputtering charged iron ions onto a silicon wafer. When the wafer was transferred to a chemical vapor deposition furnace, the iron acted as a catalyst that helped to knit together carbon atoms from a feedstock of acetylene gas into nanotubes. “It’s a very delicate process, and it doesn’t work every time,” says De Wilde. “But when it does, you can see the material literally growing like a black forest.”

De Wilde went on to apply a carbon nanotube-based optical coating technology developed at NASA to cover a set of 3-D printed titanium structures. The result is a series of objects collectively calledM1Ne II, which look like futuristic birds’ nests about 20 centimeters across. The structures hearken back to the birth of the industrial revolution by reflecting data about seven coal mines around Limburg in Belgium. This data includes the depths of the shafts, the amount of air pumped into them, the energy produced by their coal, and the relative locations of the mines. “In part it symbolizes the cohesion of the coal miners—they had to rely on each other to survive,” says De Wilde.

The series neatly connects the various identities and histories of the color. But it also reflects a basic desire of the artist, says De Wilde: “Creating the blackest black is a reaction born out of necessity.”

by Mark Peplow

Source: Nautilus

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Fight Between Carnival and Lent

Lost Masterpiece, Forgotten Artist and Hollywood: Rediscovering Eastern Europe’s Avant-Garde Art

The scene in the film "Stuart Little," with the Róbert Berény painting in the background. (Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)
The scene in the film “Stuart Little,” with the Róbert Berény painting in the background. (Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)

In December of 2008, Gergely Barki was at home in Budapest watching Stuart Little with his daughter when he spotted a familiar painting in the background of one of the scenes. Thinking his eyes were playing tricks on him, he leapt off the couch and brought his face close to the television, wiping the screen with his hand so he could get a better look at the painting. “It can’t be real!” he thought.

Intrigued, Barki, an art historian at the National Gallery in Budapest, called Sony Pictures and  tracked down the film’s set designer, who was living in the Washington D.C. area. She told him had originally purchased the piece for about $500 from an antiques store in Pasadena. She got an inkling that the painting might be worth more when a friend visited the National Gallery in Budapest and spotted a painting whose style was eerily reminiscent. The friend brought a catalogue home to compare.

Within weeks, based on this information, Barki flew to D.C. so he could see the painting in person. There, he found himself standing on the grass of the National Mall, inches away from a canvas by one of Hungary’s most important modernist artists. Barki was able to identify it as “Sleeping Lady with a Black Vase,” a long lost piece by Robert Bereny, the father of Hungarian cubism.

Had it not been for two World Wars and nearly half a century of Soviet rule, Bereny might be as revered as some of his contemporaries, who included Giorgio di Chirico, Georges Braques, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. But Hungary’s turbulent history is written in its art, which was looted, lost and scattered with each new wave of political violence. Bereny’s legacy was just one of many casualties.

Róbert Berény. (Photo: Courtesy of Gergely Barki)
Róbert Berény. (Photo: Courtesy of Gergely Barki)

Relatively obscure outside of Hungary, he is known for founding an artistic collective called The Eight, a group of wildly talented, radically-minded painters that developed their own unique style, a kind of cross between Fauvism and Cubism. Bereny was also a master of Soviet poster art, a friend of Gertrude Stein and the composer Bela Bartok, and Marlene Dietrich’s lover.

Barki, who studies The Eight and seems haunted by their lack of recognition, thinks the painting disappeared shortly before the stock market crash of 1929, “because that was when it was last exhibited,” and then vanished from the country during World War II, since most of the buyers were Jewish.

His discovery made headlines around the world, thrusting Hungarian art into the spotlight for a rare and fleeting moment. Yet most of the coverage focused on the seemingly unbelievable fact that such an obscure, sophisticated painting could appear in a blockbuster Hollywood film about a mouse.

What most stories didn’t address was that this wasn’t the first time that Barki had located a missing Hungarian masterpiece–that in fact, he had been tracking them down around the globe, finding them under beds in San Francisco; on the backs of other paintings, concealed beneath layers of gesso primer; and in private collections in London and Sydney. Or that with each new discovery, Barki seemed to be getting closer to restoring an entire oeuvre of modernist art, a slice of European cultural history that had been missing since 1915.

A postcard for the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915. (Photo: Library of Congress)
A postcard for the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915. (Photo: Library of Congress)

That was the year that 500 paintings by The Eight and other prominent Hungarian artists were loaned to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a world’s fair in San Francisco. Afterwards, they were meant to tour America on a traveling exhibition, but with the outbreak of World War I, they became stranded in San FranciscoSince Hungary (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) was allied with Germany, the paintings were branded as enemy property. Many have been “missing” ever since.

“If you were a German citizen in France when the war broke out, you were likely sent to an internment camp. Well, similar things happen to investments and objects of art,” says Gergely Romsics, director of the Hungarian Cultural Center in New York City.

Even though general principles of international law dictate that such objects be returned, the post-war reality is messier. “These paintings were privately owned, but they were lent by the Hungarian government, so who has the right to claim them? At the end of the war it became very hard to codify every situation, especially a conflict as huge and long as the First World War.”

Béla Kun, leader of the 1919 Hungarian Revolution. (Photo: Public Domain/Wiki Commons)
Béla Kun, leader of the 1919 Hungarian Revolution. (Photo: Public Domain/Wiki Commons)

In the years that followed, the situation worsened for art in Hungary. There was the upheaval of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1919, followed by World War II, which saw the collections of Jewish families plundered by the country’s Fascist regime and Nazis. With the Soviet Liberation of 1945 came another round of looting, as Russian soldiers claimed their spoils of war. And then came 44 years of Communist rule–and another revolution, this one in 1956–that put a deep freeze over the art market.

“The museums controlled everything, so whenever a private individual had a painting, he wanted to hide it because the museum could take it, or just control it,” Barki says. With the borders closed and prices down, savvy dealers from Milan and Germany swooped in throughout the 1970s and purchased this art for a song.

“The history of Hungary is quite bloody,” Barki adds. “It was not good for the collections because many times the owners of the collections had to leave, or hide the collection, or simply left and collections disappeared or were stolen. There are many different stories, many of them hidden.”

Portrait of György Bölöni by Lajos Tihanyi in 1912, one of "The Eight". (Photo: Public Domain/WikiCommons)
Portrait of György Bölöni by Lajos Tihanyi in 1912, one of “The Eight”. (Photo: Public Domain/WikiCommons)

A century after they disappeared at the 1915 fair, these stories and the attendant works of art are beginning to resurface. Some of this has to do with demand. In Hungary’s case, a painting by Bereny now commands top dollar in Budapest, which turns out to be a powerful incentive for sellers who have been keeping his paintings hidden under their beds. The set designer that Barki met in D.C. paid just a few hundred dollars for the striking painting she found in Pasadena. When it went up for auction last year in Budapest, the starting price was 110,000 euros.

Barki’s efforts, done on behalf of museums and important private collections in Hungary, seem to be paying off. In his regular column called “Wanted,” written in Hungarian, he publishes photographs of paintings he’s hoping to find. And when something comes up, he curates an exhibit–some as high profile as this one at the Musee D’Orsay in Paris–to generate interest and new leads.

At a recent exhibit in Budapest, Barki hung a photograph of a missing painting on the wall, a 1909 work by Béla Czóbel entitled “Red Nude Sculpture II.” On opening night, a lady who had seen the announcement walked in with a painting that matched it. Barki’s latest discovery was a stash of letters and correspondence from the early 20th century, some of it written by Bereny himself.

This 1909 painting, Béla Czóbel's "Red Nude Sculpture II," was recently turned in to a gallery in Budapest.  (Photo: Courtesy of Gergely Barki)
This 1909 painting, Béla Czóbel’s “Red Nude Sculpture II,” was recently turned in to a gallery in Budapest. (Photo: Courtesy of Gergely Barki)

Barki isn’t the only one interested in restoring this art to its rightful place–wherever that might be. Some of the heirs of the paintings that were confiscated after the exposition have been embroiled in lawsuits for years to get them back, raising thorny questions about ownership, cultural heritage, and legacy.

“Everyone has their own interest and claim, a reason why these works are rightfully theirs,” Romsics says, adding that there may be several conflicting claims for any one object.

One of Bereny’s heirs, his grandson Thomas Sos, a doctor in New York City, emailed to say that he has recovered one of the paintings, titled “Golgotha,” and says he knows the whereabouts of another, titled “Portrait of Bela Bartok.” He declined to comment any further.

On a national level, The Hungarian National Bank has set aside a fund of 30 billion Hungarian forints ($106 million) to repatriate art that was once Hungarian owned, or purchase works that are currently owned by Hungarian collectors. Recent acquisitions include a portrait of a Madonna and child by Titian, bought for $16 million from an undisclosed Hungarian collector, and a large nude by another member of The Eight, which Barki had tracked down in Sydney.

At a moment when the Hungarian government has been sharply criticized for its nationalistic rhetoric and corruption, the Bank has been accused by Transparency International for what it sees as financial malfeasance and a lack of transparency about which art it buys and why.

'Sziluettes kompozicio' by Bereny, 1911. (Photo: Courtesy of Gergely Barki)
‘Sziluettes kompozicio’ by Bereny, 1911. (Photo: Courtesy of Gergely Barki)

Meanwhile, the long-lost art is finally getting the global respect it deserves, in the very city where so much of it originally disappeared. The De Young museum in San Francisco is putting together an exhibit called Jewel City that will showcase more than 200 works of European and American art, most of which were on display in 1915. According to Barki, one of these works belongs to Lidia Szajko, a San Francisco filmmaker and granddaughter of Bereny and his wife Eta. It was Eta, famously drowsy, who appeared in “Sleeping Lady with a Black Vase.”

As for Barki, his efforts seem to be genuinely scholarly, if a little obsessive. “There were 100 paintings shown in Budapest in 1911,” he says. “Bereny exhibited 49 paintings in 1911 and I know only 23 or 24 pieces. The others are lost, untitled, and we have very few photographs.”

Barki estimates that there may be hundreds of more paintings in Russia, where “they can’t be researched,” since scholars of Hungarian art are rarely given access to collections there. The Russian government has never officially confirmed that the Red Army looted art from Hungary. As for the painting that turned up in “Stuart Little,” its history essentially begins in the 1990s. Before that the trail runs cold–at least for now.

“Most of our colleagues in western countries are lucky,” Barki says. “The oeuvres of their painters are quite whole, there are very few paintings in hiding. For example, Matisse, almost all of his paintings are in private collections or museums and we know everything about him. Here in Hungary we have the opposite. We’re restoring the oeuvres here.”

by Damaris Colhoun

source: Atlas Obscura