Panneaux study (cca. 83 x 25 cm)
Fine, light wear, in three pieces.
Paint on cardboard.
This work is a special piece: the painted artwork was a sketch not for a poster or other graphical work, but for a secco. Seccos were commonly used in mural painting art to create wall paintings mostly in churches and important institution buildings. The main difference compared to the fresco technique was that a secco wall painting is done on dry plaster.
This sketch was created around the middle of the 20th century, in 1951, in particular. It can be considered as one of the representative works of the time as it points out the character of the Socialist Realist period very well. Socialist Realism was the key tool of the Hungarian political dictatorship in their extensive propaganda activity in the first part of the 1950s, similarly to other Eastern-European countries in the Soviet Union. Long story short, artists and designers were pressed to portray a socialist content and apply a realist portrayal for their works.
The sketch was created by Mátyás Gaál, a fine Hungarian poster designer and graphic artist who worked mostly from the late 1930s until the 1970s. He was also a poster collector, one of the most important ones of the Postwar Era in the country. His early Art Deco works were followed by playful and decorative modernist designs, in addition, the obligatory Socialist Realist propaganda pieces as this one above.
The secco was aimed to decorate the wall of a probably prestigious building, as well as abundantly inform about the momentums of the essential help the Soviet Union had gave to Hungary in heavy industry. The composition contains several scenes put next to one other, completed with propaganda messages written above to explain them. The first scene shows two workers shaking hands and one standing beside, in front of a wagon of coal, and the inscription reads: ‘Our steel production is ensured by the iron stone and coke supplies of the Soviet Union’. The next scene displays several workers congratulating to another one with a busy factory in the background, while the inscription goes here like: ‘The Mohács steel non-combine will be constructed according to the plans of the Soviet Union’s engineers, during our 5-years plan’. Looking at the third scene we can see some workers busy with a machinery with the message exposed: ‘The Soviet Union sends us the plans of its most recent machine-tools without any royalties so that Hungarian constructional engineering can be modernly developed’. The last scene depicts two white cloaked male figures measuring on a layout and three blue-collar workers in interaction in the back with the explanation: ‘Our first mechanized foundry was built in Győr according to the plans of the Soviet Union’s engineers’. Above all of that, the main title appears in red: ‘The Soviet Union's technical help and rich experiences are essential for the success of the 5-years plan’.
The sketch remained in pieces, which makes it an even more interesting historical relic. The later-to be secco was practically a huge wall newspaper which was meant to praise the heavy industrialisation of the period. After World War II the new, the communist government started a major industrialisation program, in support of its rearmament efforts and rebuilding process. Within 20 years, the government in Hungary had seven 5-years plans. These plans were all made with the goal of economic growth but it's needless to say that the forced industrialisation caused more damages to the economy than good.
The monumental character of the piece reveals the colossal plans and large goals of current politics with Socialist Realism.