Eyewitness: 20th-century Hungarian Photography

This exhibition of 200 mostly black-and-white images, all taken from 1914 to 1989, tells the story of the birth of modern photogaphy.

Five figures at the forefront of the most exciting developments in the medium were Hungarian, but their country's turbulent history and unstable and oppressive government forced them into voluntary exile. This had the happy result of spreading their works across the globe, profoundly influencing successive generations of photojournalists, fashion and advertising photographers and artists.Brassaï and André Kertész wound up in Paris in the mid 1920s, capturing the poetry of the city's nightlife, the seedy glamour of its bars, and the excitement of bohemia and its artists. László Moholy-Nagy became a teacher at the Bauhaus, where he pioneered abstract photography, using experimental techniques such as photograms and photomontage. Martin Munkácsi moved from Berlin to New York, where his elegant fashion shots infused illustrated magazines such as Harper's Bazaar with new style and energy. Robert Capa, meanwhile, recorded the atrocities of wars all over the world with an unflinching eye.The work of these five giants of photography is set alongside that of those who stayed behind to chronicle the vicissitudes of Hungarian life. The detailed narrative of the home front stretches from the Rudolf Balogh's bucolic scenes of peasants moving over the vastness of the landscape to Soviet-era statues lying toppled in the streets following Russia's withdrawal from Hungary.

Don't miss

Kertész's Satiric Dancer " dancer and cabaret performer Magda Förstner posing in sculptor István Beöthy's studio in playful imitation of a sculpture in the background.Munkácsi's Four Boys at Lake Tanganyika, an image so full of joie de vivre that it ignited Henri Cartier-Bresson's enthusiasm for photography.

Venue details

Royal Academy of Arts Burlington House, Piccadilly London W1J 0BD 020 7300 8000 www.royalacademy.org.uk

Entry details

£2 off with a National Art Pass - £8 (standard entry charge is £10)

Saturday-Thursday: 10am-6pm (last admission to galleries 5.30pm)
Friday: 10am-10pm (last admission to galleries 9.30pm)

To book visit the Royal Academy of Arts website or call 0844 209 0051

What the critics say


From this vantage point, where we can see how much images create a culture as much as they reflect it, it's possible to see that these photographers were creating history at the very moments that they captured it on film.


Five major Hungarian photographers, including Capa, Brassaï and László Moholy-Nagy, command centre stage at the RA, while several lesser-known but gifted compatriots play eye-catching supporting roles.


Eyewitness, the Royal Academy's first foray into photography in almost a generation, turns out to have been worth the wait. The show is a revelation from beginning to end.