In Cold War Hungary, Balint Szombathy Poked Fun at Lenin by Parading Him

THE DAILY PIC: Elizabeth Dee's survey of postwar Hungarian art, by Balint Szombathy and others, shows how subtle resistance can be.

THE DAILY PIC (#1797): This image is one of a series that document a 1972 performance called “Lenin in Budapest” by the artist Bálint Szombathy. It’s from a rare and courageous show of rare and courageous Hungarian art made during the Cold War, now assembled in New York by the dealer Elizabeth Dee.

Although Hungary was hardly the most oppressive of the Iron Curtain states, it certainly didn’t allow anyone, even artists, to flaunt anti-establishment views or positions. That’s what’s so fiendishly clever about Szombathy’s piece. He and his friends marched around Budapest on May Day carrying placards with an image of Lenin. How could any good apparatchik object to that, however obvious it might seem that a long-hair like Szombathy must have his tongue in his cheek? The thing that the Hungarian artists in Dee’s show realized is that so long as you take care not to stick it out, no one can be certain just where your tongue might be. (Image courtesy the artist, Elizabeth Dee New York and acb Gallery Budapest)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics