Private Collection of Hungarian Art Comes to Maltz Museum

Works Collected During 9/11 aftermath by founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; Brinker Visits Cleveland for Opening Reception

Cleveland, Ohio, July 16, 2007 – In 2001, while Ambassador to Hungary, The Honorable Nancy G. Brinker developed a passion for Hungarian art which grew into a world-class collection.  The Nancy G. Brinker Collection of Hungarian Art: Works of Passion, Interludes and Progress, has its first major showing and exclusive Cleveland appearance at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, July 29 – August 19, 2007.  Visit or call 216.593.0575 for details.

The collection spans 100 years, from just before the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the present, and the story of its collection is remarkable.  Brinker was sworn in on September 6, and took her post soon after September 11, 2001.  The world was in chaos, travel difficult.  Unable to ship artwork from the United States, she invited some contemporary Budapest artists to display their work in the American Residence, and came to know and love the art of Hungary. “It began as an effort to honor Hungarian artists as seen through the eyes of an American,” she recalls.

The collection mirrors Hungary’s tumultuous past, with portraits, emotion-filled genre scenes, landscapes, abstracts and group scenes, some reminiscent of the Impressionist and Cubist movements.  It features 32 pieces, including Encounter of Lovers (Rendezvous), circa 1902, by Csontváry Kosztka Tivador (1853 – 1919) – thought to be the world’s most valuable Hungarian painting.  Despite Hungary’s stormy twentieth-century history, its artistic tradition has remained strong and consistent.  Most of the early Hungarian modernists studied and exhibited in France, Germany and the U.S., but few had access to international markets, and thus few gained recognition for their contributions.

Recently, Brinker decided to tour her collection, for two reasons close to her heart:  to give visibility to the artists, and to provide a creative new method of support for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which she founded in memory of her sister, Suzy.   She had particularly asked to be posted to Hungary because of the country’s high rate of cancer deaths.  This exhibition recognizes the 25th anniversary of the organization’s signature event, the Race for the Cure, and coincides with the Cleveland premiere of a newer event, the Breast Cancer 3-Day, August 17 – 19, 2007, which will include the Maltz Museum on its route.

“The Maltz Museum is honored to host this special collection,” comments Executive Director Judi Feniger.  “Cleveland was once home to the largest Hungarian population outside of Hungary itself, and the contributions of various ethnic groups form the backbone of our permanent collection, An American Story.  You’ll see works by and references to Hungarian and European culture throughout our galleries. And the story of how this work was collected combines a positive action after the tragedy of 9/11, shows how great treasures can be found in unexpected ways, and reminds us how creativity and determination are what make things happen – just the kind of themes that resonate here.”

A number of activities and events are being held during the exhibition; see attached sheet for detail.  An exhibition catalog and brochure will be available for sale in the Museum Store, and a self-guided mini-tour of Hungarian references and works in the Museum’s permanent collections is also offered.