Born 1893 in Marosvásárhely, Transylvania (today Târgu Mureş, Romania). Studied at the Budapest Free School under Kernstock and József Rippl-Rónai, 1910. One of the first followers of Lajos Kassák, with his lino-engravings published in the journal MA in 1918; become one of the most important members of MA group. Immigrated to Vienna in 1920 after the defeat of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. Developed image architecture with Lajos Kassák. In 1922 published in various magazines put out by Hungarian emigrants in Vienna. 1922 broke with Kassák and moved to Weimar upon invitation from Farkas Molnár and lived there until 1924. He was interested in the Bauhaus and Oskar Schlemmer's theater workshop, and attended Van Doesburg's De Stijl classes. Exhibited at the Galerie Der Sturm in 1922 in Berlin. 1922 participated in the Congress of Dadaists and Constructivists in Weimar. 1923 solo show at Galerie Nierendorf, Berlin. 1924 returned to Budapest; 1925 founded the avant-garde theater, Zöld Szamár (Green donkey), also as an author and set designer. In 1927, art editor for Uj Föld (New earth) magazine. Founded and directed the school for advertising design (Műhely, or little Bauhaus) from 1928-38. Edited Plakat magazine in 1933. Taught at the college of applied arts in 1948-49. Director at the college of fine arts in Budapest between 1949 and 1956. Died 1976 in Budapest.
Bortnyik remained an outsider at the Bauhaus, he never enrolled, although took an active part in their parties and meetings. As a painter, he planned to write a book on Schmidt's set designs from an outsider's point of view. Although his plan never came to fruition, his critical view of the combined effects of De Stijl and Bauhaus in Weimar was clearly expressed in one of his (later destroyed) paintings. Van Doesburg, leaning out from the 'prison' of Neoplasticism, stares at a female Bauhaus student who is balancing on a rope, with a ball in her hand. This sarcastic criticism finishes with a view of the new row houses then being planned: a sharp contradiction between what is desirable and rational on one hand and what is left over and can be experienced on the other. This dilemma could not be solved in the Weimar Republic either, due to the increasing pressure of the right-wing municipality.
- See also
- Márton Orosz, Back to the homeland! world famous or still to be discovered artists of Hungarian origin in the early stages of animated film, KAFF, 2011, pp 3-6. (English/Hungarian)