1895 - 1961
Marcell Vértes (also known as Marcel Vertès) was a prominent graphic artist, painter, illustrator, stage and costume designer.
He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest meanwhile he published caricatures in several journals in Budapest. The theatres, cabarets and revues were his favorite themes. He designed numerous posters during the 1910s, mostly for newspapers (Új Hírek, Pesti Futár), books (Koronás regények), events and theatre shows. His effortless and expressive drawing style is dominant on these works. He followed the contemporary tendency of Art Nouveau which he combined with caricature elements. The lines are thin and dashed, not dominant in his compositions, the drawing is light and fluent; the shapes are lively.
Vértes was enlisted during World War I but he sent home his drawings and he was able to get some of those published in periodicals. In 1916 he illustrated a famous book by Frigyes Karinthy (Tanár úr kérem). Vértes made his most famous posters during the Hungarian Soviet Republic. A very influential piece was the propaganda poster with the title Velem vagy ellenem (With or against me) which displays a very young, sad looking boy soldier. Two other posters by him from 1919 blame the king and general Lukacsich for the horrors of war. These works only use black, white and red colours in a very expressive and powerful manner.
After the fall of the regime, Vértes emigrated to Vienna. He published illustrations in magazines and several albums, including one that depicted the horrors of the white terror in 1920 in Hungary. He soon moved from Vienna to Paris and started to rebuild his career. He attended the famous Julian Academy and published drawings in a satiric journal and in magazines. He also presented lithograph albums.
In the 1930s he was illustrating American newspapers like Vanity Fair and Vogue. In 1940 he fled to New York and worked as an illustrator of books and periodicals. He was also responsible for the original murals in the Café Carlyle in the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. After the war he returned to Paris; then visited Budapest, where he exhibited his works on and received national honours.
He also worked on stage designs of the Paris Opera and other theatres in France and England. He became famous as costume designer too: for example he worked in the movie The Thief of Bagdad (1940). He won two Academy Awards (Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design) for his work on the 1952 film Moulin Rouge. He was even invited to the jury of the Film festival of Cannes. .