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Hugó Scheiber (1873 - 1950)

Hugó Scheiber was born in Budapest in 1873, into an impoverished family. He was the eldest of ten children. His father, Sándor Scheiber a failed portraitist, supported the family by working as a decorative artist, painting performers’ booths and stands. This led Sándor to move the family to Vienna. Scheiber’s first artistic acts occurred due to the family’s poverty, and with him being the eldest child he was forced to work alongside his father from a young age. Where he was tasked primarily with priming and applying layers of paint to stage backdrops. During his teenage years, the family was to return once more to Budapest due to the father contracting tuberculosis. It was upon their return to the city of his birth that Scheiber was to receive his first formal artistic training in c.1891-92 in the capital’s Technical Drawing School, this training was interrupted by his drafting into the Army in 1894. Scheiber was discharged in 1895, due to his father’s premature death which resulted in the postponement of his formal artistic endeavours until he was to take them up again at the National School of Applied Arts in 1898. It was shortly after this re-embarkment, that his work was to be first exhibited internationally at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900. From this point until 1910, Scheiber’s work was largely rejected by the juries for the Spring and Autumn exhibitions due to their predilection with the Academic style. From 1910 onwards, the juries of the Salons became more accommodating to the Modernist styles that had emerged and Scheiber was to become a regular exhibitor at the National and independent Salons within Hungary.

A turning point occurred in early 1924 when his works were exhibited by Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin, alongside being published in the avant-garde periodical, Der Sturm. This came about during a trip to Berlin with the artist Béla Kádár in 1921, during which Scheiber left several of his works with Herwarth Walden, the owner and publisher of the aforementioned gallery and periodical. This contributed to promoting Scheiber’s work internationally, resulting in his works being exhibited from London to La Paz. This international notoriety was to reach its zenith in 1933 when Scheiber was exhibited in the National Futurist Exhibition. During this period, Filippo Tomasso Marinetti was to refer to Scheiber as Futurism’s leading figure within Hungary. Soon after receiving this praise from Marinetti, Scheiber was to slip into relative obscurity, and after a brief dalliance with Social Realism, in 1950 he died an impecunious and largely forgotten artist within Hungary. Since his death, however, Scheiber has steadily started to receive attention once more, with the Hungarian National Gallery holding a retrospective of his works in 1964; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris including his works in their exhibition “Paris- Berlin, 1900-1930” (1978); "L’Art en Hongrie, 1905-1920," Musée d’Art et l’Industrie, Saint-Etienne (1980) but to name a few.

Scheiber’s oeuvre shows that he toyed with a great many styles during his career and never fully aligning himself to one movement, with his works exhibiting influences from Expressionism, Futurism and Constructivism.
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  • Hugó Scheiber (1873 - 1950) Clown Pastel on paper
    67 x 49 cm (26 ³/₈ x 19 ¹/₄ inches)
    Signed lower right, Scheiber

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