Szórakaténusz is a unique museum in Hungary, which opened in September 1976, undertaking nationwide collecting activities. The basis for the Collection of Hungarian Naive Artists in Kecskemét was the private collection and donation of film director, Domonkos Moldován. This was accompanied by museum activities over the next decades; the acquisition of the collections of naive art belonging to the Hungarian National Museum and the Institute for Adult Education, and by discovering new artists. The exhibited artworks are closely related to the everyday life and festivities of people dealing with farming, animal husbandry, and crafts. A harmonious atmosphere was created by the unity between Hungarian naive art and the historical building, which used to be a dwelling house in the market town, deliberately renovated for this purpose.
The Bánó House went through several periods of construction and alteration. The low western wing was built in the one-time farmyard in the middle of the 18th century. The building with its arrangement of the room, the kitchen, and the pantry is the typical representation of the Central Hungarian house type. The kitchen had an open chimney with a so-called ‘tűzpadka’ (fire seat) around the room. The large dwelling-house with a hipped high roof was constructed at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries and was adjoined to the already existing wing. Due to further alteration, its original appearance can only be seen today in its details, for example, the kitchen with an open chimney. The hall opened from the south has a fireplace also typical for the 18th century. A strongly protruding wine cellar is added to the porch on the western façade.
Naive art in Hungary span the 20th century and it is still evolving in our days. Among the self-educated artists, Péter Benedek, ‘peasant painter’ was the first to meet with success and his paintings were exhibited in Wien in the 1920s. Most of the ‘prodigies’ such as János Gajdos and Elek Győri started their art career as young men between the First and Second World Wars. Almost all of them broke with their village life, however, they could not put down roots in art life owing to their strong attachment to peasant life. Their first group exhibition titled Hungarian Geniuses opened in Budapest on 19 August 1934. The classical representative of the era, who gained international success with his paintings among Hungarian naive artists, was András Süli. András György Bereczky and János Homa are prominent among the sculptors. The works of Dezső Mokry-Mészáros are determined by constantly searching for the origin of life.
A new phase of naive art began in the middle of the 1960s with the rediscovery of the values of naive art. The artists of the period that lasted for decades were elderly people who all started creating as mature persons with their full-fledged concepts of the world condensing their messages of life into pictures and sculptures. Their art is diverse. The approach of a group of artists shows a relationship with folk art and the world of children. Antal Kapoli and Imre Tőke are included in the group who preserve the characteristic features of peasant wood carving, and Erzsébet Gubányiné Greksa, who switched from wall painting to ‘panel painting’ depicting the traditions of Kalocsa and its surrounding area.
Another important approach in the history of Hungarian naive art is characterized by the connection to the experiences of peasant life and ethnographic authenticity. The world, everyday life, and festivities of the village play a crucial role in their art. Erzsébet Orisekné Farsang and Rozália Juhászné Albert richly and authentically recorded their experiences of their youth. Sculptures depicting historical events and figures, for example, the work of Ferenc Kovács portraying István Széchenyi were created based on Hungarian reality.
The imbalance of the relationship between man and his environment became part of the modern attitude towards life. The silence surrounding János Balázs’s solitary lifestyle and his exclusion from society as a gypsy left deep traces on his works. János Répás and Irén Marosiné Földvári express their own tragedy through their sculptures. The best example of projecting the inner vision is the oeuvre of Imre Őrsi. He lived in complete isolation; his sculptures were made as companies to ‘frighten loneliness’.