Budapest Defence Day - water and air parade

Hungarian title:

Budapesti Honvédelmi Nap - vízi és légi parádé


Várnai, László


B2 (cca. 50 x 70 cm)




Fine, light fold marks and wear.


Paper, offset.

Price: $320


Poster for the Budapest Defence Day that was held within the frames of the August 20 celebrations. August 20 is one of the oldest Hungarian holidays; it’s the day of King St. Steven, the founding of the Christian Hungarian state. St. Stephen offered the country to Virgin Mary on the 15th of August in 1038, hence initially the celebrations were held on that day. In 1083 the date was changed to the 20th and it’s been celebrated then ever since, although alterations were made always according to the politics of the current power.


For the communist rulers the holiday was not acceptable due to its national and religious content. However, in order to avoid a storm of indignation from the Hungarians, they did not completely abolish the holiday but gave it a new meaning. Initially it was the holiday of bread. In 1949  the new, communist constitution was introduced on the 20th of August, thus the date became the celebration of that. A year later it was made the holiday of the People’s Republic of Hungary. An article from 1969, the ear of the poster, describes the event as follows:

“ Air and water parade on the day of the constitution

[...] on the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of Councils (Tanácsköztársaság) and the 20th anniversary of the new constitution’s acceptance the Hungarian Military Association organized the celebrations with the cooperation of national and mass institutions, young soldiers and the Hungarian Young Communist League (KISZ)

The program includes gliding, international speedboat competition, water ski performance, pageantry of rowers, canoeing, decorated water buses and small ships.

One of the most outstanding programs will be the stunt flying [...]. The People’s Army will showcase some of their technical equipment - jt planes, helicopters, swimming tanks, amphibious vehicles. More hundred thousand spectators are expected to visit the celebration.”


The poster attracts the audience with the most popular element of the show: the plane that is doing stunts is the most dominant element of the composition. It’s stylized, yet easily catches the eye with the striking, colourful stripes representing the loop. The grey and black jet and the lines on its wings are in contrast with the traces left by the moving aircraft but due to their geometric nature they create a complex image. It is somewhat isolated from the bottom part of the composition, where the Parliament is displayed with a burnt photo. The technique built upon overexposed photography was frequently applied by artists in the late 1960s and 1970s. The building appears on the poster because the event was held on the Danube in front of the Parliament. The text is written with a simple typography and it tells the information described in the article quoted above.


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