Hungary Heart

A new exhibition commemorates immigrant artist's centennial.

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Cleveland’s Hungarian American community celebrates József Domján’s 100th anniversary in Domján: Master of the Color Woodcut, now on view at the Hungarian Heritage Museum. The 100-piece exhibit showcases prints the artist designed after he fled his native Hungary for New York City in the late 1950s. The display consists of works that were first intricately carved and painted on apple wood. Canvas was then stretched over the images to capture the imprints.

Even though 15 years have passed since his death, Domján’s art remains a symbol of Hungarian independence from Communism. “Domján never went back to Hungary, but the Communists wanted him home,” says Andrea Lazar, co-curator of the exhibit. “They claimed he was an example of how a nobody -- in what they thought was this wonderful regime -- could scrape his way up to accomplish something. They thought he was a Communist-superstar success story.” Domján shuddered at the thought. Although he was always broke and never learned English, his work spoke volumes to New York’s art world. Today, his art hangs in more than 175 museums and private collections. Most of it features Hungarian symbols -- like folk dancers in native garb and anti-Communist rebels going to war. “You can see all kinds of designs that struck his fancy,” says Lazar. “His perseverance to succeed was amazing, in the face of all the things that life threw his way.”
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Fridays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: June 13. Continues through July 27

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