Friday, July 23, 2010

Hugó Scheiber

 Hugó Scheiber,  Self-portrait with Military Cap, 1917

Hugó Scheiber (1873-1950) was born in Budapest. At the age of eight, he moved with his family from Budapest to Vienna. There, he worked with his father, a sign painter, for the Prater Theatre, Vienna's largest entertainment fair. In 1898, to help support his family after they had returned to Budapest , he started working during the day, attending painting classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule (Commercial Art School) in the evening. 

 Hugó Scheiber, Carneval, n.d.

In 1900, Scheiber completed his studies, and began to show an  early interest in German Expressionism and Futurism. In 1915 he met Marinetti, who invited him to join the Futurist movement. Because Scheiber's paintings conflicted with academic style of the Hungarian art establishment, his work was virtually ignored in his own country. In 1919, he and his friend Béla Kadar held an exhibition organized by Hévesy in Vienna, which was a great success - so much so that the Budapest Art Museum finally purchased two of his drawings. In 1920, Scheiber returned from Budapest to Vienna. A turning point in Scheiber's career came in 1921 when Herwarth Walden, founder of Germany's leading avant-garde periodical, Der Sturm, and of the Sturm Gallery in Berlin, became interested in Scheiber's work. Scheiber moved to Berlin in 1922, and his paintings soon appeared regularly in Walden's magazine. Exhibitions of his work followed in London, Rome, La Paz, and New York. 

 Hugó Scheiber, Circus (In the Spotlight), c. 1925

Scheiber's move to Germany coincided with a significant exodus of Hungarian artists to Berlin, including Lászlo Moholy-Nagy and Sándor Bortnyik. There had been a major split in ideology among the Hungarian avant-garde. The Constructivist and  leader of the Hungarian avantgarde, Lajos Kassák (painted by Hugo Scheiber in 1930) believed that art should relate to all the needs of contemporary humankind. Thus he refused to compromise the purity of his style to reflect the demands of either the ruling class or socialists and communists. The other camp believed that an artist should be a figurehead for social and political change.

 Hugó Scheiber, Untitled Figure, n.d.

The fall out and factions that resulted from this politicisation resulted in most of the Hungarian avantgardists leaving Vienna for Berlin. Hungarian émigrés made up one of the largest minority groups in the German capital and the influx of their painters had a significant effect on Hungarian and international art. Apart from the political Activists, there were independent Modernists such as Scheiber and Kárdár, who hoped to find fertile ground for their aesthetic and social idealism. Hugo Scheiber, among others, suddenly found himself in the upper echelons of the dynamic Berlin art world.

Hugó Scheiber, Carriage at Night, c. 1930

Another turning point of Scheiber's career came in 1926, with the New York exhibition of the Société Anonyme, organized by Katherine Dreier. Scheiber and other important avantgarde artists from more than twenty-three countries were represented. In 1933, Scheiber was invited by Marinetti to participate in the great meeting of the Futurists held in Rome where he was received with great enthusiasm. Gradually, the Hungarian artists began to return home, particularly with the rise of  Nazism in Germany. Kardar went back from Berlin in about 1932 and Scheiber followed in 1934.

 Hugó Scheiber, Athletic Championship, 1933

Hugó Scheiber died in Budapest in 1950. His work has been shown in many important exhibitions since 1945, and his paintings are regularly sold at Sotheby's and other auction houses. You can see more works of Hugó Scheiber here in my Flickr set.


  1. thank you for this post & the wonderful blog...
    i've actually helped with several of his works from both budapest and some from the NYC metro area....
    an authentic scheiber always feels as if one is holding a stick of dynamite. the fakes fall limp
    thanks again

  2. I like inform you.the "Soking woman " pikture is not Scheibert work.