Museum of Fine Arts – Artpool Art Research Center
The Artpool Art Research Center was founded as an art initiative by György Galántai and Julia Klaniczay in 1979 (after 10 years of illegal and 25 years of non-profit existence). Since 2015, it has been part of the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, allowing the center to work as a separate unit in a well-established environment, with more researchers and a broader scope of operation. According to plans, the collection developed by Galántai and Klaniczay will form part of the Central European Research Institute for Art History (KEMKI), to be set up within the framework of the Liget Budapest Project in the National Museum Restoration and Storage Center (OMRRK) in 2019. The earliest section of the Artpool collection, created between 1965 and 1991, entered state ownership thanks to the Hungarian National Bank’s (MNB) Depository Program. The material accumulated since 1992 was gifted by the founders to the Museum.
The collection of the Artpool Art Research Center documents the history of art movements, trends, and tendencies which emerged beginning in the 1960s, including what is termed unofficial artistic trends (underground, samizdat). The archives’ 650 running meters and 2,300 hours of digitalized materials allow research on some 7,500 artists, art groups, and institutes, extending to virtually every branch of the fine and applied arts. The collection represents a staggering spectrum with an astounding number of artists. Thanks to the documents and works it preserves, Artpool is an ideal place for research, providing insights into the intellectual developments of an era. The Artpool archives is a treasure trove of letters, descriptions of artworks, notes, sketches, concepts, interviews, various writings and works, photo-documentation, catalogues, invitations, posters, bibliographies, chronologies, monographs, periodicals, diagrams, portfolios, and video and audio documents. The diverse material makes research into a wide range of art forms possible, including Fluxus, concept art, performance art, visual and concrete poetry, sound poetry, artists’ bookworks, mail art, artistamp, artists’ postcards, artists’ periodicals, copy art, computer art, video art and ‘public art’, supplemented by documentation about the oeuvres of Sándor Altorjai, Miklós Erdély, György Galántai, Endre Tót, Ben Vautier, G. A. Cavellini, Ray Johnson and Monty Cantsin, among others, only researchable in Hungary in the Artpool archives.
Artpool has had a long-standing mission to connect Hungarian culture with the international art scene and to document the activities of artists in Hungary and elsewhere in Eastern Europe who were placed in marginal positions by official cultural institutions before 1989. In addition to being one of the most important records of non-conformist art practices in Eastern Europe (with documents concerning the progressive, non-official Hungarian art tendencies beginning in the 1970s and the Hungarian samizdat art of the 1970s, and 1980s, including alternative art scenes and groups, contemporary music, underground art magazines, etc.), the archive has a unique collection on international art tendencies and movements from the 1960s on, and it helps further the work of researchers from around the world.
The antecedent to Artpool was artist György Galántai’s Balatonboglár Chapel Studio, which opened in 1970. During its four years of operation, until its termination by the Communist authorities in 1973, the Chapel Studio became the center of “tolerated” and “banned” (avantgarde) art and the “cradle” of a cultural system change. When they founded Artpool in 1979, György Galántai and Júlia Klaniczay made a renewed attempt to create an underground art institute which accommodated the concepts and ideas of new art at a time when publicity was only granted to those following the guidelines of official cultural policy. Between 1979 and 1990, precariously subsisting on the verge of being banned and tolerated, Artpool organized numerous exhibitions and arts events, and it also published and produced many periodicals, anthologies, and albums under “unofficial” circumstances. In 1983–85, the center published 11 editions of the quasi-samizdat art magazine AL (Topical / Artpool Letter), which still serves as the only source material documenting the unofficial arts events of those three years. The objective of Artpool was to compensate for the isolation and lack of information that characterized Hungarian contemporary art at the time, and it also undertook the task of documenting arts events in Hungary that were not in step with the era’s cultural policy and thus were not given any publicity. By collecting documents retrospectively and prospectively, the founders built an archive which will allow future generations of artists and art historians to continue the intellectual and artistic endeavors that were carried out by the artistic generations of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Initially, the Artpool project was defined as an avantgarde arts archive, which meant that it sought new forms of social action, organized various events, and participated actively in the processes that were going on at the time, while documenting and archiving it all and freely sharing information. Founded on this “Active Archive” concept, the Artpool Art Research Center, which was opened in 1992 as a public institution and operated by its founders for more than twenty years as a non-profit organization and which was first sponsored by the municipality of Budapest and then by the Ministry of Culture and funds through tendering, grew into a scientific institute with an international reputation. Thanks to Artpool’s exhibitions and its network of relations on the international art scene, its documents, artworks, and library grew rapidly, and its collection was enriched by many prominent Hungarian and international donations. Its well-organized archive has been attracting researchers from all over the world. Research conducted here in the past two decades contributed to more than seventy theses and more than twenty PhD dissertations, as well as to the organization of numerous international exhibitions, arts events, conferences and workshops. The printed and online publications and catalogues of Artpool are invaluable educational and research resources.
1061 Budapest Liszt Ferenc tér 10 , Magyarország
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Date of founding
Type of organisation
- Government/State organisation
Author(s) of this page
- Klaniczay, Júlia