Ervin Marton Biography

ERVIN MARTON

was born in Budapest June 17, 1912. Until 1946, he signed his work by his father’s name, Preisz, and sometimes Paal.
After his Baccalaureate, he continued his studies at the Omike drawing school in Budapest under the tutelage of Manó Vestróczy.
He never studied photography but already as a teenager delved into the medium. Each summer, he spent his vacations in Kalocsa where he drew, painted and photographed some of its Roma inhabitants.
In the thirties, his exhibit at the gallery Müterem (Atelier) with Aladár Farkas, received various critical praise from Artur Elek, Mária Dutka and Ödön Gerö and several of his works were purchased by Edit Hoffman for the National Art Gallery.
His interest in the Esperanto movement lead him to produce a series of delicate stamps celebrating the Esperantist ideals. Later he produced in collaboration with József Strémi another stamp celebrating the 1848 revolutionary poet Sándor Petöfi.

In 1937, he moved to Paris to study painting and sculpture under the direction of Bouchard and Grammond at the École des Beaux-Arts.
During the German occupation in France, he joined the resistance, drew and distributed flyers, and was involved in many dangerous actions with Lajos Papp. He also hid many wanted individuals among them, a German writer and deserter and the Hungarian artist Ferenc (Feri) Varga, the nephew of the famous novelist Móricz Zsigmond.
For his activities in the resistance, he received the Medal of Liberation (“Médaille de la Libération”).
As the nephew of the renowned painter Lajos Tihanyi who died in Paris in 1938, he succeeded with Bölöni, Brassai and Maitre Félix de la Frégonnière in protecting his work through the war, and transferring it to the (Hungarian) National Art Gallery.
He befriended many Hungarian immigrants: photographers like Kertész, Brassai and Feher, the writers György Bölöni, Andor Németh and the painter Bertalan Pór with whom he worked at the Hungarian House in Paris.
He took part in many group exhibits among which the Surrealist Exhibitions of 1947 at the Galerie Maeght and the School of Paris exhibit in London in 1947.

In 1948, the Galerie Palmes in Paris had a retrospective of his work with a catalogue prefaced by Louis Cheronnet, the famous critic for the magazine Arts.
In the context of another exhibit in 1953, at the Galerie St. Jacques, the famous writer Blaise Cendrars who wrote the preface to the catalogue called him “the ace of white and black photography”.
For many years he was hired by the National French Tourist Offices and created numerous posters and brochures. Hachette hired him to create an album on Austria for its Les Guides Bleus collection, Larousse for its dictionary, Sun for various publications. Another publisher, Alpina, commissioned him in 1959 to create with the poet Maurice Fombeure, a book on Paris, Paris m’a souri (Paris smiled to me).
Excellent reviews appeared throughout the years, from the French Radio Network to Arts, Le Monde, Regard, Le Canard Enchaîné and other publications. In particular, the critic Georges Besson declared his admiration in les Lettres Françaises.

His photographs and visual essays were published on many occasions by such periodicals as Paris-Match, Regard, Lettres Françaises, Point de Vue.
He became the photographer of Peintres Témoins de leur Temps (Painters Witness to their Times). His portraits of Mauriac, Chagall, Picasso, Léautaud, Cocteau, among others, were exhibited at the Bibliothèque Nationale (National Library) to critical praise. Some of the other major cultural figures he photographed include Jacques Prévert, Darius Milhaud, Albert Schweitzer, Jean Genet, Albert Camus, Chaplin, Gaston Bachelard, Yves Montand, Juliette Gréco, Leonor Fini, Foujita, Marcel Jouhandeau, and many others.

Later, the writer and politician André Malraux often commissioned him for various photographic projects.
In 1965, the Circolo Photographico de Milano organized an exhibit of his work. His work appeared regularly in U.S. Camera, Photography Year book in London as well as in Japan.
The archives of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris conserve many of his works.
While in the city of his birth, Budapest, a retrospective exhibit of his work is being prepared, Ervin Marton dies suddenly in Paris on April 30 1968. The exhibit is transformed in 1971 into an homage and a large retrospective of his work at the National Hungarian Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria) and receives great critical acclaim.

Selected Exhibits :

  • 2015 – Ervin MartonParis: the Postwar Years, Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles
  • 2010-2011 – formELLES – La femme dénudée dans la photographie hongroise, (The female nude in Hungarian photography), Institut hongrois / Galerie Vasarely, Paris
  • 2010 – Art in Exile series: Belated Homecoming, Holocaust Museum (HDKE), Budapest, group show of many Hungarian artists working abroad in the 20th century
  • 2009 – 20th Century Photography: Selections from the Wachovia Securities Art Collection (now Wells Fargo Collection), Center Art Museum, Escondido, California
  • 2007 – Paris en hongrois (Paris in Hungarian) – Maison Mai Manó, Hungarian House of Photography, Budapest
  • 2004 – Double voyages: Photographies hongroises du monde entier (Hungarian Photographs of the Whole World), Collegium Hungaricum (Hungarian Cultural Institute), Vienna
  • 2004 – Ervin Marton: Life-Work Exhibition, Hungarian Museum of Photography, Kecskemét, Hungary
  • 1996 – Ervin Marton Stephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles
  • 1992 – Marton Ervin: 80 éves (80 Years Old), May – June; Utóképek (Afterimages), September – October, Mini Galéria, Szombathely Képtár, Hungary
  • 1971 – Ervin Marton: Memorial Exhibition, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest
  • 1965 – Circolo Fotografia Milanese, Italy – solo exhibit
  • 1956 – Art et Résistance, Salon d’Hiver, Paris
  • 1948 – Ervin Marton: solo exhibit, Galerie Palmes, preface to catalogue by Louis Cheronnet
  • 1947 – Surrealist exhibitions, Galerie Maeght, Paris
  • 1947 – School of Paris, Bussy Gallery, London
  • 1945 – Galerie Arts, Paris

Partial Listing of Publications:

  • Paris m’a souri, Paris 1959
    Peintres Témoins de leur Temps

    Jean Mistler, l’Autriche, Les GuidesBleus
    Lucien Lorelle: Esthètique du Nu dans le Monde
    U.S. Camera.
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