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The stellar success the Hungarian artist Károly Kotász enjoyed in the 1920s and 1930s in galleries all over Europe offers a fascinating insight into the mechanisms of artistic fame.

A reticent, disabled man who rarely left his hometown in Hungary, Kotász conquered the art world in western Europe, only to rapidly fall into oblivion soon afterwards. Nevertheless, his paintings can still be found in many public and private collections, bearing evidence of his former reputation. His painting in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery recently featured in an Art UK story.

Gifted to the museum by a private collector in 1940, Kotász’s Birmingham picture spent the next seven decades in storage. Thanks to a collaboration between the museum and the University of Birmingham, it has now reemerged and has been put on display in the permanent exhibition, alongside works by Kotász’s French and British contemporaries.

This is a perfect occasion to think about the role institutions such as galleries, museums and art criticism play in making artists famous. It is also an opportunity to get to know an artist from East Central Europe – a geographical area that is underrepresented in museums and galleries in the UK.

Was the national origin of the artist one of the reasons behind his sudden, but ultimately brief success? How did his disability affect his career? All these questions will be explored in two gallery talks given by Nóra Veszprémi of the University of Birmingham on Saturday 8th December 2018 – one in English at 1pm, and one in Hungarian, aimed at Birmingham’s Hungarian community, at 2pm.

Dr Nóra Veszprémi, Research Fellow, University of Birmingham