Hungarian Folk Magic


HUNGARIAN FOLK MAGIC—The Art of Joseph Domjan opened at Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park Sunday, March 2 and continued through October 12. This exhibiton, organized by Mingei International, was the first major West Coast presentation of Joseph Domjan’s work.

A master of woodblock printmaking who drew many of his lavishly portrayed subjects from Hungarian history and folklore, Joseph Domjan began his career as a painter, making his first woodcut in 1947. Often instead of printer’s ink, Domjan used oil paint on his woodcuts. With this new technique, he applied many layers of rich color to create paintings with woodcuts. “I succeeded in bringing to the world something that had not existed before,” he said. Nearly 30 of these extravagantly colored prints are on display at Mingei International.

Domjan’s art found expression in several media. His lacy, folklore-inspired designs were executed by the Royal Tapestry Workshops in Madrid and at Aubusson in France. Ten of these tapestries are on view, as are six of his double-sided woodblocks. There are also two doors, painted by Domjan’s talented wife and collaborator Evelyn, and selected objects from the Museum’s worldwide collection that reveal the universality of Domjan’s folklore themes. A phoenix from Thailand, a carved chest from Transylvania, a fish-shaped jar from India, a rooster-shaped serving vessel from Russia and horses from Indonesia and Mexico illustrate this common thread of human experience.

Born in Hungary in 1907, Joseph Domjan immigrated to the United States in 1956. The recipient of Hungary’s highest art award, the Kossuth Prize, he was also named “Master of the Color Woodcut” in China, a title awarded only once in a century. More than 130 museums on four continents include Domjan’s works in their collections. Although he died in 1992, the centennial of Domjan’s birth in 2007 inspired numerous exhibitions of his work in Europe and the United States.

Curator: Joyce Corbett
Designer: Jeremiah Maloney