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World-Famous World-Archives – László Beke 80

Presentation and discussion

1135 Budapest, Szabolcs utca 33–35., C épület
#László Beke #archives #research 2024.05.23. 17:00

When a renowned artist dies, it is best to keep all his/her belongings together. Not only works, but also sketches and notes. (The sketch, the sculpture left unfinished at the torso, or intended to be just a torso in the first place, and even studio waste are also works of art, or at least, who would dare to bear the responsibility for throwing them away?) Their painting palette, glasses, armchair... Their estate should be catalogued; it should be used to produce scholarly and promotional publications. The memorial museum needs managing, a memorial should be erected in front of the house, a car park must be created (possibly with a coffee stand).

(László Beke: The Inhumanity of Art, 1979)

László Beke was an internationally renowned art historian who passed away in 2022. It was the great honour of the KEMKI ADK collection to receive, as per the family’s decision, his archives in 2023.

László Beke earned his degree in Art History-Hungarian Language and Literature in 1968, and subsequently became a staff member of the Art History Documentation Centre. In the early seventies, in parallel with his institutional work, he became a leading figure of the Hungarian and regional progressive art movement. It was also during these years that he began building his archive, consciously reflecting on the opportunities offered, and challenges posed, by the conceptual movement, which did away with the distinction between artwork and document, which could be collected and organised in folders. Before the regime change, he worked at the Hungarian National Gallery; from 1990 until his death, he taught at the Hungarian Academy (later University) of Fine Arts. Between 1995 and 2000, he was director of Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle Budapest; until 2012, he was director at the Institute for Art History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. His archives document his collaborative, local and international, institutional or grassroots projects, as well as his professional friendships, and his wide-ranging curatorial and publishing activities up to the 2010s. In addition to being processed by the KEMKI Research Department as part of our long-term research project on Beke’s oeuvre, the archives can also serve as the starting point for further research projects.

On 23 May 2024, the KEMKI Research Department will commemorate László Beke’s 80th birthday with a professional event. On this occasion, by attempting to reconstruct Beke’s 1972 project “Cobbsletones and Gravestones”, we would like to offer insight into the adventurous undertaking of exploring his archives. “Cobblestones and Gravestones” is a slideshow-accompanied presentation from 1972, in which Beke creatively linked together seemingly distant themes of his wide-ranging interests and thematised the most current artistic developments. In the presentation, which has never been showed its entirety, cobblestones –symbolising the revolutionary determination of the new left during the student uprisings of ’68 – and gravestones – a genre of “folk art” reflecting popular beliefs about the afterlife – are connected by their very material. Both are made of stone, the classic raw material used in sculpture. Our reconstruction of certain segments of the original 1972 presentation will be followed by a roundtable discussion with László Beke’s former colleagues on the genesis and evolution of his “World-Famous World-Archives”, as well as its yet unexplored possibilities.


5:00-6:00 PM “Cobblestones and Gravestones” presentation:

Brigitta Ádi, KEMKI

Anikó B. Nagy, BTM Municipal Gallery of Budapest

Dávid Fehér, KEMKI

Emese Kürti, KEMKI

Dániel Véri, KEMKI


6:00-7:00 PM Roundtable discussion:

Gábor Pataki, HUN_REN Research Centre for the Humanities

Miklós Peternák, Hungarian University of Fine Arts

Zsolt Petrányi, Hungarian National Gallery

Edit Sasvári, Kassák Museum

Moderator: Zsuzsa László, KEMKI


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