An exhibition titled Kass and Madách – Selection from the Illustrations of János Kass on the Bicentenary of Imre Madách’s Birth is set to open on 23 November at the Damjanich János Museum in Szolnok. The museum director, László Horváth, revealed during a press briefing on Friday that the exhibit, open for viewing until 21 January, will present a curated collection of illustrations by János Kass. These illustrations were crafted in 1966 for Madách’s dramatic works The Tragedy of Man and Moses.
Horváth added that alongside the original copperplate prints by this prominent figure in Hungarian graphic history, the exhibition will feature illustrated volumes and the animated film titled Dilemma. Notably, the screenplay for this film was inspired by Madách’s The Tragedy of Man, and the film itself, produced in 1981, stands as a media-historical curiosity, being one of the earliest computer-generated animations worldwide.
Ágnes Képiró, an art historian and the curator of the exhibition, remarked on János Kass as ‘one of the greatest, if not the greatest’ illustrators of the second half of the twentieth century. Having illustrated approximately four hundred books, predominantly in the realms of fiction and children’s literature, Kass left an indelible mark on the Hungarian artistic landscape, particularly during the sixties and seventies.
Concerning the series of illustrations for The Tragedy of Man, only those in the museum’s possession can be viewed in their original form, but digitally, all are accessible. As for the illustrations of the drama Moses, the museum owns five original copperplates, and the complete pages of a numbered, artistically crafted edition have been acquired to be showcased in the exhibition.
It is noteworthy that János Kass illustrated both works in 1966. Following the initial release of Moses, a year later, a numbered edition of fifteen prints, signed by the artist and presented in the form of a ‘maxi-book,’ became available. This unique publication, although not encompassing the entire text, focuses solely on those portions associated with the accompanying illustrations, providing a more detailed exploration of the artwork.
János Kass, renowned for his numerous biblical-themed illustrations, contributed significantly to this exhibition. Notably, a depiction of Adam and Eve, among the featured artworks, stands out as one of the largest original graphics on display, as highlighted by Ágnes Képiró.