The Budapest-based Hudec Cultural Foundation (HCF) was the initiator and organiser of the Art Deco Budapest Symposium taking place in January 2017. The Hudec Cultural Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Budapest. Activities focus on organising cultural and educational events based on the life and works of László Hudec, known as L. E. Hudec, a Hungarian architect who rose to fame in Shanghai, China, during the 1930s. Of Hungarian-Slovakian background, he fled the vicissitudes of Europe in the early 20th century, taking with him the style and knowledge of European building design and construction. His work – spanning nearly 30 years of Shanghai’s economic and cultural glory days – includes Park Hotel, the first skyscraper in Asia. Since the 2010 Shanghai World Expo Hudec’s profile has increased in Hungary as has the political will to exploit this unique cultural connection between China and Hungary as a potential bridge between the two countries. The Foundation was involved in several Shanghai-based programmes initiated by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has built a strong network in Shanghai. The Foundation’s last Shanghai-based project was the Art Deco Budapest–Shanghai mini-conference in relation to the 13th World Congress on Art Deco in Shanghai where Hudec’s legacy was celebrated with lectures and architectural walking tours. The Foundation was invited to give a lecture about Hudec’s roots and the Budapest-based archives. During this very professionally organised one-week Congress lectures were held by experts on both Shanghai’s urban fabric and the Art Deco style. The diversity of Shanghai’s cultural heritage was also presented by guided walking tours, while in the evenings the 180 conference participants were able to enjoy jazz époque programmes.
The success of this World Congress inspired me, as the Foundation’s Curator, to begin organising a similar Art Deco programme in Budapest. After finalising the programme concept and connecting the possible partners, the Foundation gained the backing of the National Cultural Fund of Hungary. The aim of the three-days Art Deco Budapest Symposium was to present the architectural and cultural treasures of the Art Deco style in Hungary and in Central Europe. Among the some one hundred participants were leaders of the International Coalition of Art Deco Societies who travelled from Paris, Shanghai and Chicago. The daily programmes were held in different locations with important cultural heritage value. Lectures were given on Art Deco poster art (by Anikó Katona), Hungarian Art Deco architecture (Zoltán Bolla), László Hudec and his Hungarian contemporaries (Júlia Csejdy), the experiences of the 13th World Congress on Art Deco in Shanghai (Patrick Cranley), the Paris Art Deco Society (Pascal Laurent), the development of the Hungarian Art Deco tube furniture (Éva Horányi), and Art Deco in Central Europe (Dániel Kovács).
The first day’s programme was hosted in the wonderfully renovated Art Nouveau style Bedő House with the help of the Summa Artium Foundation. The second day started with a walking tour around Margit Boulevard in the Second District. The group visited the famous “Piston” apartment building, named after its cylinder-form, glass-covered elevators, and were treated to a glass of mulled wine in the famous Atrium Theater where the unique Art Deco interior of Lajos Kozma was presented. On the third and final day the Museum of Applied Arts generously invited the attendants to a special guided tour of the “Breuer Home Again” exhibition. The tour was directed by the two curators, Pál Ritoók and Éva Horányi, who highlighted the uniqueness of the central object, a marble table design of Marcel Breuer. The symposium closed with a reception in the Glass Hall of the Museum, where the international guests and local Art Deco experts and amateurs discussed the setting up of an Art Deco society in Budapest as well.