Sándor Bánszky (1888-1918) sculptor, painter

Born in Szeged, Hungary in 1888, Sandor Bánszky was an orphan whose early studies were paid for by his orphanage. Having shown artistic talent in secondary school, he then studied at the stone and clay-craft School of Szekelyudvarhely, earning his bachelor's degree in 1906. He first left Hungary shortly thereafter for a study trip to Munich, and upon returning worked for a while at the famous porcelain factory of Zsolnay in Pecs together with his fellow artist compatriot Josef Csaky. Bánszky then went to Budapest to study at the School of Applied Arts with Geza Maroti, a renowned Hungarian sculptor and artist. There he won several awards, as well as state funding, allowing him to make study trips to Vienna and to Italy in 1909. When he returned to Budapest Bánszky became Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the School of Applied Arts, and was featured in exhibitions at the Fine Arts Society.

In 1913 Bánszky joined Csaky in Paris, then the international center of the modern art movement. Csaky had already been in Paris five years and was well-established in its artistic demimonde. The two artists worked out of Csaky’s studio at the “Ruche” in Montparnasse, a collective of sixty ateliers that housed many important artists of the time. There Bánszky became associated with the likes of Picabia, Duchamp, and de la Fresnaye. Bánszky also had his own studio on the Rue de Vaugirard, where many young artists convened as well. Surrounded by as much artistic talent as he was in Paris, Bánszky likely drew from this wealth of influence, along with what he may have garnered from the Viennese Jugendstil and Italian avant-garde movements.

In 1914 Bánszky exhibited a plaster portrait at the Salon d'Automne and also showed paintings at the Salon des Indépendants along with Csaky’s. The exhibits garnered him considerable acclaim and citations in the art journals. Ostensibly on the verge of artistic success, Bánszky’s career was abruptly interrupted by World War I (1914-1918). He was taken to the internment camp at Villefranche along with fellow Hungarian sculptor Gyula Szolcsanyi, who had joined him and Csaky in Paris. (Csaky was exempted because he was a French citizen.) During his internment Bánszky managed to produce drawings and sketches, small sculptures, plaquettes and medallions, as well as a cubist plaster head considered one of his masterworks. He also collaborated with Szolcsanyi on a tomb commission for a wealthy French family.

In the fall of 1918, days before the War ended, the camp was hit by the Spanish Flu epidemic, taking Bánszky’s life at age 29. From among Bánzky’s personal belongings, some forty small-scale studies in gypsum survived, many damaged by the war, and went to the Ferenc Mora Museum of Szeged in 1922. The few works that survived from his atelier demonstrate Banszky’s masterful application of constructivist and cubist principles. For example, his monumental bronze sculpture “Bending Figure” (1914), perfectly concretizes the cubist tenets particular to Paris at the time, its forcefulness comparable to that of Raymond Duchamp-Villon’s masterpiece Le Cheval Majeur. Limited as his output was by his tragic demise, Bánszky’s works are nonetheless testaments to an extraordinary talent and profound grasp of geometric design, positioning him if not at the center, then certainly in significant relation to the more famous pioneers of Cubism in prewar Paris - Metzinger, Picasso, Braque, Delaunay, Picabia, and the likes.

Museum of Fine Arts - Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest
Mora Museum of Szeged, Hungary
Virág Judit Gallery, Budapest