We don’t write much about the Hungarian art world too much here. Perhaps that’s because so much creativity was stifled or re-purposed under the Socialist regime, the affects of which are still lingering. But Hungarians have had a significant influence on the international art scene due mass emigration in the middle of the 20th century. We could bring up artists like Hungarian-born Rita Ackermann, whose drawings of sexualized adolescents earned her a worldwide reputation as being at the forefront of transgressive New York Art.
And then there were voices like Edit Deak, who spelled her name with a capital ‘A’, making it DeAk. Having fled the Socialist regime in 1968 at age 18, and, after a brief stop in Italy, DeAk very quickly managed to establish herself as a fixture in the downtown New York art scene. As a student at Columbia, she was able to connect with fellow art afictionados and start an art magazine, Art-Rite, that championed difficult art, with DeAk dubbing the effort “coverage for the uncovered”. The magazine was one of the first of its kind to promote video and performance art, street art, and also paid special attention to outsider art, meaning, non art-school trained artists.
Moreover, DeAk founded the influential downtown art bookstore and publisher Printed Matter. Through her magazine and other outlets she would champion now mainstream artists like William Wegman, Keith Haring, and even had Jean-Michel Basquiat decorate the walls of her Soho loft. Of course she was also friends with Andy Warhol.
As a writer she was highly praised, and indeed, other art critics were quick to pick up on the places she was leading, with William Zimmer saying in The SoHo Weekly News: “DeAk has been everywhere before anybody.” You could say she was a Peggy Guggenheim for outsider art. DeAk died in early June of this year, and was mourned widely, though her passing garnered little notice in her home country.
Source material: New York Times.
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