Farkas Molnár

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Photo by Gyula Pap, c. 1930.
Born June 21, 1897(1897-06-21)
Pécs, Austria-Hungary
Died January 12, 1945(1945-01-12) (aged 47)
Budapest, Hungary

Molnár had been Alfréd Forbát's fellow student at the Technical University in Budapest, and in 1921 he turned to Forbát for advice. On Forbát's invitation, he went to Germany in the autumn 1921, together with his artist friends from Pécs with whom he was travelling through Italy searching for an inspiration: Henrik Stefán and Hugó Johann. Andor Weininger joined them afterward. Later on, Molnár joined Gropius' architectural firm on Forbát's recommendation, where he worked until 1925.

During Theo van Doesburg's stay in Weimar in 1921 his lectures left a lasting impression on the Bauhaus students. The young artists from Pécs, foremost among them Molnár, were among his admirers. Molnár, Johann, Stefán, and Weininger joined the Bauhaus in October 1921. They had exhibited together previously in Pécs, and discussed the various 'isms'. The influence of early Cubism can be detected in their Italian townscapes; Molnár and Stefán each published six of them as part of the set of lithographs produced under Feininger's leadership at the Bauhaus print workshop. The Italian collection has received little attention, in comparison to other Bauhaus print collections. Though rather akin to Feininger's style, it lagged behind the bold experiments of contemporary European graphic art. From April 1922 on, the young Hungarians sought to develop as artists at the Bauhaus: Molnár in wood sculpture, Stefán in stone sculpture, and Weininger in mural painting. All of these studios worked with Gropius' principle of the Gesamtkunstwerk, which the architect had perfected in his buildings. Kandinsky's influence is less palpable in the works, instead, they show traces of Schlemmer, who did not actually work in the workshop, and of van Doesburg's theories. Molnár and his friends attended the De Stijl courses held by van Doesburg in Weimar from March to July 1922 and, impressed by this experience, adopted Neoplastic principles. The compositions seen in van Doesburg's studio had an obvious effect on Weininger's window pane-like work, in which colored squares are assembled into a dynamically contrasting pattern. Molnár's transition project, designed in collaboration with Keler for the 1923 exhibition, also attempts to enhance spatial effect by means of color.

Molnár also turned toward the theater. Besides his architectural and administrative obligations, he also made lithographs that prove that he never banished landscape, nature, or humanity from his art. He did not become an orthodox proponent of geometrical forms like most of the De Stijl followers. He also had the specific Hungarian avant-garde characteristic: a willingness to preserve classical heritage while adopting the contemporary approach. One of his virtually unknown multi-figure compositions may be regarded as the modern version of Michelangelo's Last Judgement, and, at the same time, it is an illustration of Schlemmer's manifesto written for the Bauhaus exhibition in 1923. The centrally arranged nude figures represent a community (the Bauhaus) relying on the past, challenging heaven with a firm belief in the future.

He adopted the idea of the open theater, interpreting it from an architect's point of view. In his plan for a U Theater, the spectators, sitting in a U-spaced auditorium, can follow the performance on three fixed stages, one suspended stage, and various suspended bridges or drawbridges. However his design was overcomplicated and could not be implemented.

Moholy-Nagy, the editor of the Bauhaus books, commissioned Molnár to design the frontispiece for the first volume of the International Architecture series, Molnár's design, which resembled the frontispiece of the November 1923 issue of MA, reflected a kind of restrained Constructivist design.

While at Bauhaus, following Gropius' principles he gradually moved from the on-story, single family house to various types of terraced housing, which contained small flats. For the exhibition of 1923, he produced a prototype for a new single family house, which he described as "the first square house produced by the universal KURI." The bright, provocative colors of this house (the 'Red Cube') represented a revolutionary symbolism, whereas its ground plan is still successful, despite the inhuman, rigid frame. The next step Molnár intended to take was to design a tower block along the route indicated on his postcard, published by the Bauhaus. Central European reality, however, provided different opportunities. His plans were never implemented in Germany, since he left the country at the time of economic crash. Back in Hungary (1933) he never got beyond designing single family houses. Molnár's activity in Hungary, which lasted until his early death, remains mostly unexplored.

Molnár and Moholy-Nagy met for the last time at the CIAM Congress in Athens in 1933.

Died in Hungary after being deadly wounded in the war.

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