Infernal Golden Age. Hungarian New Wave posters of the 80s from the collections of György Bp. Szabó and Tamás Szőnyei is the new online version of the grand-scale volume of the same name, that had originally been published by Kieselbach, one of the major auction houses in Budapest, Hungary, in October 2017, coinciding with the exhibition of a selection of these posters. Encompassing more than 600 posters with studies, personal recollections, vintage photos and a compilation cd reviving the alternative music scene of the dying decade of socialism, the book sold out within months, and won three prestigeous prizes in 2018: the Beautiful Hungarian Book of the Year Award and the Cover of the Year Award of the Association of Hungarian Book Publishers in the art book category and the Opus Mirabile Award of the Art History Department of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in the category books by multiple authors.
Now it has been made available for internet users all over the world. See it here, at the website of Kieselbach Gallery
Not simply a digitized version of the original edition on paper, it comes augmented with English summary, updated info, corrections and an index of band names, designers and places of gigs. Flashing New Wave lightnings, sharp contrasts of colours, faded photos, psychedelic pulse, melancholic intellectualism, devastating puns, surreal humour, the do-it-yourself attitude of punk, everyday opposition to the system, subtle gothic doom and industrial edges framed with a ruler these posters are perfect reminders of the vibrant alternative music scene of Budapest in the 80s. As lots of groups featured or worked closely together with graphic artists, painters and photographers, their posters were pieces of art themselves of an ephemeral nature. Had the collectors not been aware of their visual values, most of the posters would have disappeared for good by the next weekend, when new posters were fixed upon them overnight, most of the time illegally.
Independently of each other, György Bp. Szabó and Tamás Szőnyei have collected an impressive number of posters of the Hungarian punk / new wave / undergound / alternative music scene since 1978. Being a graphic artist, György Bp. Szabó created posters himself, and performed on stage as a member of Bp. Service playing industrial music. Tamás Szőnyei collected posters, tickets, flyers as a fan, and documented the events in his articles as a journalist. Their collections have separately been exhibited multiple times in Budapest.
Never in the mainstream, but enjoying cult status in their homeland, some of the groups made their presence felt in the international post punk / indie scene as well. On its European tour Bizottság (The Committee) played at Melkweg in Amsterdam and La Vilette in Paris among other venues. The first album of Vágtázó Halottkémek (Galloping Coroners) was released by Alternative Tentacles (run by Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys). Európa Kiadó (Europe For Rent) was on the bill at WOMAD and Glastonbury, England. Art Deco played at Berlin Atonal. Kampec Dolores toured Europe supporting Pere Ubu. KFT played in Boston and LA, Sexepil at South By SouthWest. The unique style of fashion designer Tamás Király (who was integral part of the scene) stole the show at the Dressater Dressed to Thrill festival in Berlin. Kontroll Csoport
(Control Group) took part at the Rebel Waltz festival in New York in 2009, on the 20th anniversary of the demolition of the Berlin Wall. Two would-be Oscar-winners belonged to the scene too. Bass guitarist of Spenót (Spinach), Sándor Söth went on to become production manager of the German short, Schwarzfahrer, winning the prize in 1994. Géza Röhrig, who played the title role of Son of Saul, that won the best foreign language film award for Hungary in 2016, had fronted Huckleberry. Both of them designed posters for their own bands.
Published as a result of the collectors collaboration, Infernal Golden Age. Hungarian New Wave posters of the 80s from the collections of György Bp. Szabó and Tamás Szőnyei revives the era and assesses the artistic strength of the period by presenting the posters, including the ones that were shown in the Museum of Modern Art in New York at the exhibition Making Music Modern: Design for Ear and Eye in 2014-16. Designed by András Wahorn (for Bizottság), György Bp. Szabó (for Bp. Service) and László Kistamás (for Kontroll Csoport), these posters are now in the collection of MoMA.
Other titles to be browsed online at the website of Kieselbach Gallery where you on also find the two volumes of "Modern Hungarian Painting 1892-1919 and 1919-1964", including 2000 paintings with essays, compiled by the gallery owner and art historian Tamás Kieselbach, and "Átmeneti emlékkönyv", a photographic account of the years of transition from socialism to capitalism in Budapest.