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Árpád Szenes was born on 6 May 1897 in Budapest (Hungary) into a family of intellectuals and artists. His father was an engineer, his mother a musician, and one of his uncles was both a composer and musician.

Very early on he showed a talent for drawing and painting.

After completing his military service from 1916 to 1918, he entered the "Free Academy" in Budapest where his teacher was József Rippl-Rónai, a friend of Henri Matisse, Aristide Maillol, Albert Marquet, Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard. József introduced the young artist to the research of the École de Paris before 1914.

At the same time, Árpád discovered the music of Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and the first steps of the Dada movement with the artist Lajos Kassák, who was in contact with Jean Arp and the artists who were to create the Bauhaus.

During the October 1919 revolution in Hungary, he discovered the research of his time: cubists, futurists, constructivists, through the multitude of posters that covered the walls of Budapest. This helped him to better discern his own orientation.

In 1924, Árpád Szenes began a long journey through Europe, which took him to Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Florence, Rome and then in 1925 to Paris, where, in order to earn a living, he executed caricatures in the nightclubs, cafés and brasseries of Montmartre. He successively settled in Belleville, La Villette and Buttes-Chaumont, and extended his stay in Paris thanks to a temporary job in the press.

In 1928, he attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière without being enrolled, where he met Maria Elena Vieira da Silva, whom he married in 1930. "I didn't know her name, but I had spoken about her to my mother, and she had spoken about me to hers. We immediately decided to get married. It was instinctive. There is no logic in life. There are wonderful, stupid or terrifying coincidences.

In 1931, Szenes worked as an engraver at Hayter's "Atelier 17" where he met the surrealist painters Miro and Max Ernst. Together with Vieira da Silva he participated in the meetings of the "Friends of the World", making friends with Étienne Hajdu, later Estève and Pignon. Until the war Szenes regularly spent the summer with Vieira da Silva in Lisbon, Portugal.

In 1939 Szenes and Vieira da Silva left Paris, entrusted their studio and their paintings to Jeanne Bucher, whom they had met in 1932, and moved to Lisbon.

In 1940, the couple left Europe for Brazil and opened a studio on their arrival in Santa Teresa on the slopes of Corcovado.

Szenes' painting studio attracted up to two hundred students in 1944, forcing him to open a larger one in the Silvestre district of Rio. That same year, Szenes was exhibited at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro, with a sale for the benefit of the R.A.F.

The Szenes-da Silva couple returned to France in 1947, with brief stays in Portugal where Maria Elena's mother remained and who joined them in Paris in 1957.

From 1972 onwards, the retrospective of his works made the rounds of French museums before culminating in the last major retrospective at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the exhibition at the Galerie Jeanne-Bucher, which René Char commented: "Admirable lesson from Szenes! It is nature that consents to the painter's observation, not the mire that it has, by taste, blinded. We dream about dreams where reality is mentalized. An interminable doing is there before us, radiating, it is true, our pains and the reconducted oblivion of our pains. To paint is to press the temptation. To paint is to dispose.

He died in Paris on 16 January 1985.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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Two galleries in Paris

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