Béla Kádár (1877-1955)


Bela Kadar was born in Hungary in 1877. He was born into a working-class Jewish family and, due to his fathers early death, was apprenticed as an iron-turner after completing only six years in primary school. He eventually began his career as an artist by painting murals in Budapest.

Like many of the artists of his day he was drawn to Paris and Berlin, and by 1910 he had visited both cities twice. In 1923, Kadar showed his paintings in Berlin at the invitation of Herwath Walden. Walden was an important figure in the German avant-garde, being the publisher of the journal Der Sturm which featured the works of Franz Marc, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall and Oskar Kokoschka. During the group exhibition at Walden's gallery with other artist's of Der Sturm, Kadar met Katherine Dreier whose Societe Anonyme was instrumental in bringing the work of the European avant-garde to New York. With her help two major exhibitions of his work were planned for the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the second of which Kadar travelled from Europe to attend in September 1928.

During the course of the Berlin years, Kadars earlier expressionist style changed: the emotionally charged and powerful graphic tone that characterised his work before the 1920s was replaced by a more romantic mood. Elements of folk tale and fantasy gained prominence whilst his subject matter became more narrative. Influenced by the German Expressionist artists and Der Blaue Reiters, Kadar depicted rustic village scenes within primary compositions. His surrealistic dream imagery is, however, more akin to the compositions of Marc Chagall. Kadar adopted in his work a remarkable number of international trends, including Cubism, Futurism, Neo-Primitivism, Constructivism, and the Metaphysical School. He died in 1955.