László Marton is the absolute Artist.
One could say that he was destined to be a sculptor and nothing else.
His art was not inspired by his childhood: neither his parents nor a
keen-eyed teacher set him on liis way. His own unique and original talent
was wholly sufficient to determine the course of his life. In his teens,
when other boys were drawing or kneading clay into crude shapes for
fun, László Marton was already creating art. His bronze Shepherd Boy
- done when the artist was only 17 years of age - is already a full-fledged
work of art. It is far more than a realistic portrayal of a real-life
experience, it is a profound reflection on a human life from an artistie
distance. The maturity radiated by the whole composition compels us
to regard it as a masterpiece by an original and extraordinarily gifted
artist.When looking at László Marton's work as a whole, one should always
take this statue as a reference piece because it holds the `secret'
of everything that came afterwards. The natural ease and effortless
solidity embodied in it indieate a mature seulptor capable of turning
in any dircetion.
At the same time, the faet that Marton's materials always tamely assume
the desired shape under his hand does not mean that his work proceeds
without inner struggle. The fmal product, the completed work of art,
suggests that it came into being naturally, with no need for the artist
to strive for its emergence. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Those who know the artist are well aware that all his works are preeeded
by a great struggle. The bloom and enehantment of a sudden inspiration
which characterises László Marton's sculptures - the feeling that the
initial idea and the final form somehow eame into being together - is
perhaps the greatest testament to the profundity of his talent.
The hands of the sculptor grow aecustomed to difficult materials and
heavy instruments, and his imagination adjusts itself to the need to
create over a number of stages. The fact that László Marton is also
a gifted watercolourist, a genre based on momentary inspiration, is
extraordinary. Furthermore, he did not turn to water-colour as a `refuge'
at a particular period in his eareer, perhaps because he was looking
for a change, refreshment or even consolation: he has painted in water-colour
from the very beginning.
The present album spans more than fifty years, and includes - among
other things - so-called graphic studies, which never served merely
as sketches for statues, but were always the full-fledged works of an
artist forgetting himself in the joy of drawing.
A passionate love of life has always characterised László Marton's work.
This becomes particularly obvious when one looks at his water-colours.
Everything is a potential subject for him, nature above all and especially
Trans-Danubia, which enchants the eye with the mildness and variety
of its landscapes. No matter which of Marton's water-colours one looks
at, it is immediately obvious that he never decides in advance what
he is going to paint. He picks a subject on the spur of the moment and
momentary inspiration determines his st31e. László Marton is a stranger
to premeditated forms and water-ecolour `methods'. In his art, water,
sky, trees, parts of town, shapes, forms and figures in all their natural
diversity are transformed into an artistie vision. What is blue in real
life, here can become red or yellow and appear cither in its recognisable
particularity or as a blurred vision with scarcely any contours. Trees
can look like trees, but can also appear as marching spearheads. A part
of a town can be either familiar or a dreamlike fluttering. A water-colour
can be composed of a few sudden brushstrokes, but it can also be radiant
with an extraordinary richness of colour. It can glow in every detail,
whether distant or near at hand, or a magic playfulness of the sun,
but one may also encounter a dignified atmosphere, I might even say
an atmosphere of elevated gloom.
To paint in water-colour requires a great deal of preparation, yet the
actual picture must be completed in a matter of minutes. Water-colour
is very much an art of the moment. A good water-colour requires extraordinary
concentration on the part of the artist, the magic of an all-encompassing
inspiration. Browsing through Marton's water-colours one by one, although
the eye is aware that they are the creations of the same hand, it is
difficult for the mind to comprehend how they could have originated
within the kaleidoscope of the same artistic imagination. It is not
only the variety of subjects, Marton's unique handling of colours, or
the diversity of forms that makes one wonder, but the juxtaposition
of so many different styles. Such diversity indicates both that
anything is possible in water-colour, and that Marton revels in exploring
the outer limits of water-colour and ranging freely between its wonderful
He does this, not as a sculptor who is also a watercolorist, but seemingly
as a watercolorist first and foremost; as someone who has dedicated
his whole life to the genre; as an artist who can dream only in this
way, in a vibration of blending colours and contours. As I said at the
very beginning, László Marton is the Absolute Artist; he is an Artist
and nothing else. He has no interest in highbrow aesthetic statements
or in ideological conceptualisation. His attention is directed towards
reality in its natural state and controversy: the dazzling brightness
and the mysterious darkness in which man is compelled to grope; the
thousand faces of nature, humanity and Creation; the mass of things
which ean exist both side by side and in confliet. László Marton adores
The beauty of Woman is always there for him in this simplicity: she
represents the continuity of existence, and it is in her and through
her that Marton is able to express all his vitality and his dreams.
As a result, Marton's female figures are both ethereal and - because
they are not devoid of life's little imperfections - very real.
Although many are already familiar with László Marton's water-eolours,
nevertheless this album is a revelation. Leafing through the pictures
included in this volume, chosen from hundreds of pieces, the reader
who so far has encountered only Marton the sculptor is likely to feel
that he has now also met Marton the painter: a sensitive and lyrical
soul, in contrast with what might be suggested by his sculptures, which
are often dramatie expressions of dramatic situations. László Marton
is an artist whose talent supersedes genre limitations and expresses
itself fully and naturally in whatever form it happens to manifest itself.
The fortunate inclusion in the present album of some of Marton's recent
statues amply illustrates that he is to be admired equally for his sculptures
and for his water-colours and oil paintings.
The idea for this volume was suggested
by the artist's wish to make an album whieh would be different from
the many volumes about his sculptures, one that would introduce Marton
the painter, or, to be more precise, the watercolorist with an obsession.
Also, it is fortunate that in the meantime a number of beautiful statues
which deserve to be counted among the artist's masterpieces have emerged,
naturally suggesting their inclusion in this volume.
As it happens, at the top of the list of these statues is a beautiful
statue of the whimsical Goddess, Fortuna, herself. Marton simplifies
the graces of Fortuna while giving them the widest possible interpretation
by placing the Gracious Lady on top of a sphere, which requires a good
sense of balance on her part. Marton's Fortuna is a modern woman who
is seemingly accessible to all. Syrnbolieally, her hand holds the Wheel
of Fortune, but it is clear that she is not using it to govern; she
merely signals her ability to do so. The spectator's attention almost
ignores the symbol as it embraces the figure as a whole. The first thing
the spectator's gaze fixes upon is her beautiful and distantly mysterious
face which is almost realistic. The bareness of the arms, the shoulders,
and the breasts eonveys erotie charm, but at the same time the folds
of the dress protectively conceal those parts of the body whieh inspire
sensual fantasies, as if to serve as a warning that we are not dealing
with a mere mortal, but with a being which is inherent in us when our
fortunes are rising and yet inaccessibly beyond us, almost a hated being,
when our horizon is overeast.
`Torsion' is Fortuna's twin. One remains unconscious of the fact that
this female figure has no head and its arms are broken off, and one
has the impression that it was perhaps not the seulptor but one's own
hand who lifted or partially removed the draped eloth which so proteetively
eovers the body of Fortuna. `Torsion' is one of the centrepieees of
Marton's creation: like the sculptors of Antiquity, Marton wishes his
artistic message to be conveyed by the female form. Throughout his artistic
career, Marton has produced many different kinds of statues representing
Woman; what links them together is that in all of them he has tried
to demonstrate the beginnings and the wholeness of existence. His endeavour
reached its unsurpassable climax in `Torsion'. Also, Marton handles
marble with the same perfection as all other materials. But he must
nevertheless feel that marble is different, that it is something special.
It is the ultimate ehallenge for the artist. The proportions of the
body are marvellous. But in itself that would not be enough. The artist
wants to avoid total nudity, because the latter might mean the loss
of erotieism. On the other hand, it is not his intention to allow body
shapes showing through clothing to excite too much; this nudity uncovered
could be an act of exhibitionism or an accidental act of the moment.
What is revealed is so much the whole that one forgets that it is in
faet only a fragment. `Torsion' is the Ideal Woman, both real and the
subject of every man's desire. [It is] the eternity of beauty, the non-recurrence/singleness
of purity, and the harmony of coyness and voluntary nudity: This wholeness
fmding manifestation in the everyday has always been Marton's idea of
the real mission and beauty of art.
The statue To Be Or Not to Be was born as a transflguration of the Hamlet
of Shakespeare. Anguished, doubtful, and contemplative of ultimate questions
the Prince of Denmark who, at the moment of action, symbolises the choice
of fearful death rather than filthy life has been depicted in many different
ways in art history Marton's eomposition shows a Hamlet almost crippled
by doubt. The hard face of the Hamlet figure is embellished by thought.
By looking into those eyes the spectator becomes a party to Hamlet's
doubts. It is hard to believe that this Hamlet would shortly get up,
east away the mask of madness, and by an act of selfsacrifice `set right'
`disjointed time', and surrender his doubts or perhaps overcome them.
Cantata Profana is a marvellous piece. To a Hungarian, these cleer mean
a lot more than merely magnificent and gorgeous animals of the wild:
for him they signify enchantedness and punishment. The curious stillness
and inverted melancholy of these otherwise so dynamic animals make reeognisable
to anyone the epic idea and feeling that these animals symbolise the
forsakenness in Europe of the Hungarian people. It was these stags whieh
lured the Hungarian people to their eurrent homeland until the people
themselves became like an exposed herd of stags, wishing to find a clear
Those who understand his art have noted repeatedly that Marton does
not have a favourite style. His style is always that required by a particular
work of art, which is the manifestation and radiance of an idea. Ecce
Homo is not Christ who takes upon himself the sins of the world or the
sins of human frailty. This Christ is not Jesus the Redeemer. This Christ
is really Man. The cloak over his shoulders which covers his whole body
serves to direct our attention to the face. This face has neither a
transcendental expression nor a promise of resurrection. This face is
our own mortal countenance. Human suffering and disillusionment in the
2Oth century is symbolised in this harrowed, humiliated, and insulted
human figure. This Christ is ashamed of his harrowed body. He is ashamed
that all this has been done to him. This Christ is confused and flabbergasted;
it is the most accurate portrayal of Man imaginable. This moving and
magnificent creation is one of the artist's most complete and complex
works in terms of the underlying idea. No sculpture or sculptor could
The centre of Marton's sculpture is Man. Trends come and go, but Marton
continues to insist that one must show Man to make one's point about
the meaning of Existence and the eternal dilemma about the origin of
Man, what Man is now, and what the future holds for him. Perhaps this
is why he loves portraits, and why he is such a master of them. Marton's
portrait of the piano virtuoso Georges Cziffra is a masterpiece of the
genre: the subject is immediately recognisable. Marton has succeeded
yet again: this statue has an inner light, a rare gift for an artist.
The portrait of John Lennon presents another aspect of the essence of
music. But there is also a certain pretentiousness and acting to the
gallery in this portrayal: Marton could have omitted I,ennon's spectacles,
but he ehose to retain them as an artistie device to demonstrate the
role-playing which characterised this excellent musician, the controversial
personality with a broken spirit despite everything. Those who look
at Lenmon through László Marton's spectacles will immediately recognise
that the tragic end of this artist was also a pieee of theatre.
The portrait of Charles, Prinee of Wales, represents an interesting
stage in Marton's work as a portrait artist. The artist set out to create
a faithful impression of the model but bearing the artist's own mark:
Marton's portrait of the Prince is the portrait of a man who is conscious
of his own merits and can face his reflection in the mirror.
Marton's brilliantly executed portraits are made to order and are modern
characterisations of their model, who generally has to sit for the artist:
they are both a faithful reflection of the individual portrayed and
carry the thoughts and message of the artist at the same time. The portrait
of Peter Munk is an excellent pieee and the manner of its execution
is reminiscent of Marton's portrayal of József Egry. Marton's portrait
of Lord Rothermere is a masterpiece of characterisation, and so is the
wisely smiling portrait of Andrew Sarlós. The marble relief of Melanie,
the wife of Peter Munk, is a brilliant invocation of the past by impressionistic
means: a dreamlike recreation of bygone youth. Most recently, Marton
was commissioned to make two important and challenging statues: one
of Vilmos Apor and the other of Artur Görgey.
Bishop Apor was a clergy-man who was constantly aware of what his religion
and humanity required him to do. Vilmos Apor was not born to be a martyr.
He became one by enhance. The composition brilliantly succeeds in conveying
this message. Apor is shown protecting the defenceless with his own
body: with one hand he
defends, while with the other hand he protests against violence, folly,
and pointless death. The vividly portrayed faee of Apor expresses goodness
and defencelessness. It is a pity that the marble pediment lends an
air of solemnity to Apor's actions; the artistic intention would be
more appropriately expressed on a less ceremonial stand.
Görgey is one of the most disputed figures in Hungarian history. But
in the final analysis he was a seapegoat more than anything else. In
all probability lie took the most rational course of action, although
this aet meant capitulation. Whereas the Hungarian people were never
willing or able to come to terms with the fact that at that moment in
history at Világos there really was no alternative if further pointless
bloodshed was to be avoided. Görgey had to face this terrible dilemma,
made a rational decision, and upheld it, facing exclusion to the very
end of his life. Marion portrays not so mueh the humiliated army general
but the determined and stable man, the politician who is ready to face
his fate and the task he is destined to perform. Görgey's horse does
not prance or dig its hoofs in the ground: it stands calmly and under
control. It is in harmony with the self-confident horseman it carries
on its back. Marton has thrown aside all prejudice: he portrayed Görgey
as we have to accept him, whether we like it or not, without illusions.
Over his career László Marton has created many different statues, but
there has probably never been a more complex or compact period than
the current one. In full possession of a wealth of skill and experience,
Marton is able to capture wholeness in everything he turns his hand
to. He is a favourite of Fortuna who nevertheless does everything in
his power to ensure that we think of him as an artist who has succeeded
as a result of his own efforts and extraordinary talent rather than