Based in Budapest, Kicsiny is among Hungary’s most highly regarded contemporary artists, known for large-scale sculptural installations, or “frozen performances,” that draw equally on the languages of theater, philosophy and the visual arts.
As the Freund Visiting Artist, Kicsiny worked with faculty and students in the Sam Fox School last spring while preparing for his upcoming exhibition at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. That show, titled Balázs Kicsiny: Killing Time, will open in spring 2012 and will be curated by Robert Gero, lecturer in the Sam Fox School’s College & Graduate School of Art.
Balázs Kicsiny, Winterreise, 2005. Polyester cast, cassock, shoes, gloves, skis, trolley bus collector, imitation wooden cross staff, electric line, light bulb and fencing mask. Janus Pannonius Museum Collection, Pécs, Hungary. Photograph: Tihanyi-Bakos Fotóstúdió.
Kicsiny’s practice involves multiple media, including sculpture, film, performance and painting. He is perhaps best known for his haunting and sometimes absurdist installations, which explore dichotomies of time and space, motion and stillness, history and modernity.
For example, Pump Room, one of five loosely connected works created for the Hungarian pavillion at the 2005 Venice Biennale, depicts 12 kneeling figures drinking from chalices while paradoxically wearing heavy 19th-century diving helmets (a sly allusion to Venice, “the city of water”). A related piece, Winterreise (Winter Journey), consists of two mannequins clad in cassocks and fencing masks, their heads replaced with light bulbs, navigating past one another with skis and antique cross staffs.
Born in Salgótarján in 1958, Kicsiny attended the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied painting and mural arts and now lectures. In addition to the Venice Biennale, his work has been featured in four exhibitions at the Hungarian National Gallery, in the 2005 Baltic Biennale, and in solo shows in New York, London and throughout Europe.
Kicsiny’s work is included in numerous public collections, including the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest Cultural Ministry and the Ludwig Museum — Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest. Other honors include Hungary’s Munkácsy Award and Eötvös Scholarship as well as grants from the Art Council of England.
Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Visiting Artist
Launched in 2009, the Freund Visiting Artist program is modeled on a similar collaboration — the Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Teaching Fellowship program — between the Sam Fox School and the Saint Louis Art Museum. Both programs are made possible with support from the Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Art Endowment Fund.
Natalie Edison Freund, who died in 2007, was a Washington University alumna as well as a past member of the Alumni Board of Governors, the Sam Fox School National Council and the board of the Saint Louis Art Museum. Her husband, Henry L. Freund, was owner of Freund Baking Co. in St. Louis. He died in 1980.
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
The Sam Fox School supports the creation, study and exhibition of multidisciplinary and collaborative work. Offering rigorous art and architecture education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, the Sam Fox School links four academic units — the College of Art, College of Architecture, Graduate School of Art and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design — with the university’s nationally recognized Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum boasts one of the finest university collections in the United States and is committed to furthering critical thinking and visual literacy through a vital program of exhibitions, publications and accompanying events. The museum dates back to 1881, making it the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi River.