Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Lace Work by Bela Angyal

Illustration: Bela Angyal. Lace design, c1902.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century Hungarian lace making saw an ever increasing official investment of time, money and energy. The textile craft that had been maintained for centuries very much on an amateur basis with production being likened to that of a cottage industry, was having to not only compete with mass production that had made increasingly serious inroads into the craft, but also that of other traditional European lace making areas that were reorganising their own crafts into much more robust and readily marketable levels.

Illustration: Bela Angyal. Lace design, c1902.

Lace making in Hungary was largely incorporated into the state education system so that in many respects lace making became standardised with girls being taught the craft in a pre-established and regularised form. A number of workshops were founded which maintained a relationship with education, many of the girls either coming through the college system or starting within the workshops themselves. At the same time Hungarian artists and designers were encouraged to work within the newly reorganised craft, supplying contemporary design work.

By the first decade of the twentieth century, a substantial and firm foundation had been laid on which Hungarian lace could be seen to be competing on the wider European stage. Regular applied art exhibitions within Hungary, both publicised and focused the craft, so that on an international scale Hungarian lace proved both popular and desirable when displayed at critically exclaimed exhibitions such as that held in Paris, Turin and Milan.

Illustration: Bela Angyal. Lace design, c1902.

Bela Angyal an Hungarian artist and teacher had been interested in renewing the image and direction of traditional Hungarian crafts since the early 1880s. In 1882 he had founded the National Bobbin-lace School of Kormocbanya. He was a regular contributor to magazines dedicated to the arts and crafts and paid special attention to renewing some of the traditional Hungarian lace designs, particularly those that incorporated a large element of floral work which was seen at the time as being especially closely related to traditional Hungarian decorative work.

Illustration: Bela Angyal. Lace design, c1902.

Angyal, also produced his own lace design work, five examples of which are shown along with this article. Although many saw the relationship of Hungarian lace making with that of the contemporary world as one that should be encouraged, Angyal seemed less certain. While many Hungarian designers concentrated on producing lace work that closely followed the contemporary and hugely fashionable Art Nouveau style, as well as closely following the work produced by the various lace schools of neighbouring Austria, Angyal was more inclined, as can be seen in these examples, to focus attention much more on the key elements of the traditions of Hungarian lace. Therefore, Angyal's lace design work is much more conservatively structured with little to hint at any concession to the styling of Art Nouveau.

Illustration: Bela Angyal. Lace design, c1902.

It is a fine balance when trying to protect the craft traditions of a country, while at the same time allowing those traditions to survive by putting them on a much firmer, but more contemporary and sometimes commercial footing. The balance is difficult to get right and the twentieth century has shown the two extremes. Work can either appear so traditional as to be seen as either a pastiche of the past, or so contemporary as to lose any sense of continuity within the craft. It is a balance that perhaps is impossible to achieve and so traditional and contemporary craft may always have to journey down different pathways.

Reference links: 
The Art of Lace-Making in Hungary
Hungarian Folk Designs for Embroiderers and Craftsmen (Dover Pictorial Archive Series)
Hungarian Folk Art
Britain and Hungary: Contacts in architecture and design during the nineteenth and twentieth century : essays and studies
The Folk arts of Hungary: Papers presented at a symposium, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 1980
Folk Art & Folk Artists in Hungary
Herdsmen's art in Hungary (Hungarian folk art)
Nomadic Generation Youth and Folk Art in Hungary 1970-1980
Hungarian Decorative Folk Art
Hungarian folk customs (Hungarian folk art)
Hungarian folk jewelry (Hungarian folk art)
Hungarian peasant art,
Traditional Hungarian Folk Art

No comments:

Post a Comment