Lajos Tihanyi reached the top echelon of early 20th-century modern Hungarian painting at a young age—although meningitis had rendered him deaf at the age of eleven, and he had hardly any formal training in the traditional sense.
Composed of vivid colours, the works he made in Hungary – chiefly landscapes, nudes, portraits and still lifes – employ the lessons of Cézanne, Matisse and Picasso. Following the 1919 Soviet Republic, he left the country, and spent some time in Vienna and Berlin, before settling in Paris. The contemporary writers, artists and politicians ha came to know in emigration were the subjects of a series of graphical works, a brilliant portrait gallery. Meanwhile, his painting departed more and more from the principles of verisimilitude, and his pictures fused an emphasis of structure with the representational distortions and the intense palette of expressionism.
Though in 1933, when he joined the Abstraction-Création group in Paris, he was already painting mature abstract works, his untimely death in 1938 prevented this period from completely unfolding. Thanks to his friends, photographers Brassaï and André Kertész, and Jacques de la Frégonniere, the painter, most of his works have survived, and were returned to Hungary in 1970.