József Gáranyi in his studio, 2012

I came across  László Hradszki’s book 20th Century Hungarian Ceramics, an online publication illustrating the author’s collection of work by István Gádor, Géza Gorka, Livia Gorka and József Gáranyi. A significant omission, which must reflect Hradszki’s preferences, is Margit Kovács.

Hungarian potters are informed by a very different aesthetic from those in Britain and their work sometimes appears strange to us. Hradszki’s favourite British potters are Lucie Rie and Hans Coper, who represent an urban, continental European design tradition different from the ruralist vernacular of Leach and Cardew. In Hungarian ceramics in the 1930s there was a strong Art Deco influence, which passed by British studio potters and influenced only the more go-ahead potters in Stoke-on-Trent, like Susie Cooper and Clarice Cliff

Hradszki’s enthusiasm has led him to seek out the surviving ceramists of the period he collects, and he became personally acquainted with József Gáranyi (b. 1928). “I was lucky to have met him in 2011 and later visited him several times,” he says. “We had long talks, mainly he telling me stories about his life. He liked to talk about his masters Gádor and [Miklós] Borsos and the school years, his school mates and fellow ceramic artists. He had stories even about Rákosi and his wife.” (Mátyás Rákosi was the Hungarian dictator from 1949 to 1956.) “Rákosi’s wife was studying ceramic art at the university in Budapest and was a schoolmate of Gáranyi and his wife.”

The sculpture shown (below) is Gáranyi’s Three Parcae with the Thread of Life, 1970. The Parcae were the female personifications of destiny in Roman myth. Gáranyi’s early career produced very different ceramics: up to 1956 he was a designer for Herend porcelain.

József  Gáranyi, Three Parcae with the Thread of Life, 1970

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