GEORGES CSATÓ (1910-1983)
Gouache on paper; signed top left
In period frame
This is an unusual self-portrait and, given Csató’s life, must rank pretty highly in terms of artful artistic depictions of the self.
Csató grew up in Budapest, studying at the École des Beaux Arts in Vienna in 1929, and then in Berlin with, most crucially, under Paul Klee (1879-1940). With the rise of the Nazi party, Csató left Germany for Prague along with several like-minded avant-garde artists including Oska Kokoschka (1886-1980) with whom he worked from 1936-1938. With the advance of the Nazi’s, he returned to Budapest, where he soon found himself in a labour camp. He survived a series of extraordinary ordeals including escaping, fighting with the partisans, being captured by the Russians, and taken to a secluded location and made to paint a portrait of Stalin. ‘While I was sketching him he never spoke a single word, he just sat there chain smoking. The only movement he made was to push a bottle of vodka and a packet of cigarettes across the table to me.’
When the war was finally over Csató returned to Budapest and took up his paintbrush again, but Hungary fell under Stalinist government and abstract painting was strictly prohibited, so he left and arrived in Paris as a refugee where he would live for the rest of his life.
Csató’s bold provocative work was well received in Paris and in 1948 Jean Cocteau organised an exhibition for him at the Librairie Paul Morihien. He soon became established amongst the Parisian avant-garde and participated in the more radical salons such as the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, and the Salon Comparaisons, and held many acclaimed exhibitions in London, New York, Sydney, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Bonn, and Canada.
Georges Csató’s work has been offered at auction multiple times, the record price being 24,696 USD for Untitled No.67 sold at Dreweatts in 2021.