Kassák, Lajos (1887-1967)

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Kassák, Lajos- Grey Blocks, 1962

Lajos Kassák (1887–1967) was a Hungarian poet, novelist, painter, essayist, editor, and theoretician of the avant-garde.


Based on the panel at permanent exhibition in the Kassák Museum, Budapest; there compiled from biographical text by Ferenc Csaplár.

1887: Born in Érsekújvár, Austria-Hungary.
1900: Leaves school for apprenticeship as locksmith.
1904: Moves to Budapest and starts working in factories in Angyalföld and Újpest. Participates in trades union political campaigns and joins Hungarian Social Democratic Party.
1908: First poem published in the weekly Újpest.
1909: Sets out for Western Europe on foot, with no money. Discovers art in the museums. Returns to Budapest in December.
1915: Founds anti-militarist periodical A Tett [The Action].
1916: The international issue of A Tett appears with contributions from writers and artists from countries at war with the monarchy, and the periodical is banned. Launches a new periodical MA [Today].
1919: During Hungarian Soviet Republic enters into dispute with Commissar Bela Kun over avant-garde art and the independence of art from politics. MA subsequently prevented from appearing. After the failure of the Soviet Republic spends five months in prison.
1920: After his release, leaves the country for exile in Vienna. Relaunches MA, formulates the theoretical basis of Hungarian constructivism and develops wide contacts with European avant-garde movements.
1926: Returns to Hungary and starts up new journal, Dokumentum [Document] which lasts for one year.
1928: Launches a new, independent, left-wing journal Munka [Work] and associated movement.
1928-34: Leader of a socially-aware educational society of students and workers, grouped around Munka. Writes regularly for the newspapers Népszava [People's Voice] and Szocializmus [Socialism], protesting against Stalinist tyranny and extreme right-wing movements.
1939: Exhibits in the Galerie Charpentier, Paris. A new law restricting press freedom closes down Munka.
1940-45: Publishes several novels, books of reports and books of verse. In 1940, an anti-war poem causes him to be imprisoned for two months under a 1937 court judgement.
1945: After the war takes on several positions in cultural affairs in the new political climate. Edits the relaunched Új Idők [New Times] and then the Alkotás [Art] and Kortárs [The Contemporary].
1948: His journals are closed down, he is excluded from public affairs, and his poems and articles cannot be published.
1956: Stands up for the Revolution, returns to artistic affairs.
1957: Public involvement limited, but his old writing begins to be republished.
1960: Exhibition of his work in the Galerie Denise René in Paris, resumption of his international career. Still ignored as an artist in Hungary.
1965: Awarded Kossuth Prize for his poetry.
1967: Holds the last exhibition in his life in the Adolf Fényes Room in Budapest, at his own expense.

Source : www.monoskop.org