A significant poster artist of the 1970’s, István Bányai possesses outstanding drawing skills and a unique character. His works are defined by his unique and brilliant drawing style, and the playfulness of animation.In the early 1980’s, Bányai emigrated to the United States, where he became important graphic artist, illustrator, and designer of magazine covers, such as for The New Yorker, Time, and Rolling Stone.
Between 1969 and 1972, Bányai studied at the Hungarian University of Arts and Design (today: Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design) under the supervision of György Haiman and János Kass. In the mid-1970’s, he became a member of the Perspective Group (Perspektíva csoport) of young poster artists. During this period, Bányai worked for MOKÉP (Hungarian Film Distribution Company), where he designed movie posters, for the Móra publishing house, where he designed illustrations, and for the Hungaroton, where he designed CD covers. In addition, he also worked on animation films. He was working in the Pannonia Animation Film Company, for a while side-by-side with György Kovásznai. Later he created his own animation movie.
Seeing his works in the field of animation, Renee Laloux invited Bányai to Paris, to work with Moebius (Jean Giraud) on an animation moviw. In 1980, Bányai left Hungary, first spending two years in Paris. He was working on animation movies, and he was also working as graphic designer, for large magazine- and publishing companies.
In 1981, he moved to Los Angeles and became an illustrator for Time, Newsweek, and the Atlantic Monthly. Beyond that, he designed covers and illustrations for children’s books. He lived 12 years long in Los Angeles, then 12 years long in New York. Today he is living in Connecticut.
In 1995 Bányai produced his first wordless book, Zoom. Honored as one of the best children's books of the year by the New York Times and Publishers Weekly, Zoom was soon published in 18 languages. He went on to author four more books and illustrate many more in collaboration with other writers and poets. (source: wikipedia.org)
From 2004 on, he is member of the Hungarian Poster Association (MPT). Taschen’s Illustration Now! (2005) included him as one of the 150 best illustrators in the world.
In 2013 he had a large retrospective exhibition in the Rockwell Museum, with the title "Strangers in a Strange Land". In 2014 Taschen included him to the 100 best illsutrators of the world again. While he continues to produce commercial illustrations for publications such as The New Yorker, Playboy, Rolling Stone,Time and Atlantic Monthly; cover art for Sony and Verve Records; and animated short films for Nickelodeon and MTV Europe, he is internationally respected for his unique philosophical and iconoclastic vision, thus transcending the status of commercial illustrator to gifted artist. (source: wikipedia.org)
Wrought drawing and a bombastic picturesque vision render Bányai’s compositions very unique. Bányai is also a highly clever designer, who prefers to incorporate exquisite conceptions into his posters, drawing elements from the traditions of visual art. On his other posters, we sense the decorative attitude of secessionism (Art Noveau) mixed with pop art, the visual world of comics, and popular or “trash” culture. His movie posters often employ horror effects, monumental visions, and absurd details. These posters preserve the style of comics and animation, though with high artistic qualities.
One of Bányai’s outstanding works is the poster for Fellini’s movie, ‘Casanova’, in which he combines the etching-like style of the 18th century with his provocative attitude. In his current graphic art, Bányai continues to employ elements from the everyday visual culture in an imaginative and humorous way. He has a sense for caricature, and his graphics often include an erotic element. His works are often provocative and strongly political, such as his cover for The Atlantic in 2007, with the Statue of Liberty dressed in a chador.
Banyai describes his art as "an organic combination of turn-of-the-century Viennese retro, interjected with American pop, some European absurdity added for flavor, served on a cartoon-style color palette... no social realism added." (source: wikipedia.org) .