May 04, 2018

Getty Research Institute and Wende Museum Co-organize Important Exhibition Exploring Art in Cold War Hungary

Media Contact(s):

Amy Hood
310 440-6427
Getty Communications

Promote, Tolerate, Ban: Art and Culture in Cold War Hungary

At the Wende Museum of the Cold War
10808 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230
May 20 to August 26, 2018

(Left) Siege of the Communist Party Headquarters in Republic Square, Budapest, 1956, Erich Lessing (Austrian, b. 1923) Gelatin silver print. Getty Research Institute, © Erich Lessing. (Right) Small Star Cola-Cola III, Pecs, Hungary, 1988, Sandor Pinczehelyi (Hungarian, b. 1946) Oil on canvas. The Wende Museum, © Sándor Pinczehelyi


CULVER CITY, CA – The Getty Research Institute and the Wende Museum of the Cold War have partnered to organize the exhibition Promote, Tolerate, Ban: Art and Culture in Cold War Hungary, drawing on the two institutions’ complementary collections of art and archives from the period. On view at the Wende Museum of the Cold War from May 20 through August 26, 2018, the exhibition explores a time in Hungary when the state cultural policy simultaneously celebrated modernism and freedom of expression while imposing censorship and promoting propaganda.

          “Drawing from two complementary collections of post-war Hungarian art and ephemera, this exhibition offers a new look at a distinct time and place in history and art history,” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute. “Promote, Tolerate, Ban, as well as the Getty publication of the same name, will become a landmark in research and curating related to Cold War Hungary. We’re delighted to partner with the Wende Museum of the Cold War on such a worthy endeavor.”

          Cold War Hungary, aligned with the Soviet Union since 1948, was bordered by four Eastern bloc countries and Austria to the West. After a twelve-day uprising against Soviet rule in 1956, Hungary’s art and culture were subjected to the cultural policy referred to as “Promote, Tolerate, Ban” which was relatively tolerant and liberal, yet anchored in government guidelines and censorship.

          “The exhibition reveals the creative and sometimes subversive ways people lived, resisted, made art, and nurtured a complex culture beneath and beyond official doctrine,” said Wende Museum founder and director Justinian Jampol.

          The exhibition juxtaposes remarkable artworks, pioneering films, and vibrant everyday materials from advertisements to political posters to scrapbooks to explore how artists responded to the contradictory social, political, and cultural conditions of Hungary between 1956 and 1989. These provocative artworks masked a double standard — while promoting ideals of socialist progress and a modern lifestyle, the regime ruled through manipulation, censorship, and propaganda.

         In 2010 both the Wende Museum and the Getty Research Institute (GRI) acquired complementary art and cultural artifacts from Hungary during the period between the end of World War II and the early 1990s. The GRI received six hundred photographs, books, and ephemera from photo-historian Michael Simon, a Hungarian émigré who came to the United States in 1957. With the intention of retracing the history of Hungarian photography, Simon took several trips to Hungary starting in the 1970s. He interviewed photographers and visited many libraries and museum collections, nationally and internationally. Michael and his wife, Carol Simon, amassed a significant collection of photographs by Hungarian photographers over his 25 years of research.

          The same year that this important archive came to the Getty Research Institute, the Wende Museum of the Cold War began collecting Hungarian art and artifacts, including Socialist Realism and modern paintings, prints, posters, figurative sculptures, ceramics, street signs, and other ephemera produced as part of state-sponsored commissions during the Mátyás Rákosi and János Kádár regimes from the mid-1940s to the late 1980s. The Wende Museum’s collection of Hungarian art was further enhanced through subsequent acquisitions and donations, including from Hungarian-born, Los Angeles-based, collector Judith Hoffman.

          Exhibition curators Isotta Poggi, assistant curator of photographs at the Getty Research Institute, and Cristina Cuevas-Wolf, resident historian at the Wende Museum of the Cold War, began investigating the intersections and correlations in these two collections in 2013. The resulting exhibition and publication juxtaposes different media to bring fresh perspectives on art and culture in Cold War Hungary.

          In conjunction with the exhibition Getty Publications has published the book Promote, Tolerate, Ban: Art and Culture in Cold War Hungary, edited by Cristina Cuevas-Wolf and Isotta Poggi (Getty Publications, $49.95, hardcover), which looks at various facets of artistic life in Hungary before the fall of the Soviet Union to untangle the stories of practitioners who both resisted and acquiesced to state law. From an examination of documentary evidence of event-based art to a first-person account from Hungarian artist and critic Geza Perneczky, the essays in this book reveal a broad range of artistic practices and ideologies that came out of such a repressive yet fertile time in Hungarian history.



The Wende Museum of the Cold War was founded in 2002 by Justinian Jampol, a native of Los Angeles and scholar of modern European history, with a mission to preserve the art, culture, and history from the Soviet Bloc countries, inspire a broad understanding of the period (1945–1991), and explore its enduring legacy. Housed for more than a decade in an office park, where only a small percentage of its collections could be displayed, the Wende moved in November 2017 to a new campus, the iconic former National Guard Armory Building at 10808 Culver Boulevard in Culver City. The new location offers expanded visiting hours, free admission, dynamic exhibitions and events, a sculpture garden, and state-of-the-art open storage of the Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing Collection. For more information, call (310) 216-1600, visit, or follow the Wende on social media: @wendemuseum.

The Getty Research Institute is an operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust. It serves education in the broadest sense by increasing knowledge and understanding about art and its history through advanced research. The Research Institute provides intellectual leadership through its research, exhibition, and publication programs and provides service to a wide range of scholars worldwide through residencies, fellowships, online resources, and a Research Library. The Research Library—housed in the 201,000-square-foot Research Institute building designed by Richard Meier—is one of the largest art and architecture libraries in the world. The general library collections (secondary sources) include almost 900,000 volumes of books, periodicals, and auction catalogues encompassing the history of Western art and related fields in the humanities. The Research Library’s special collections include rare books, artists’ journals, sketchbooks, architectural drawings and models, photographs, and archival materials.

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.

Additional information is available at
Sign up for e-Getty at to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit for a complete calendar of public programs.


You must be logged in to view this item.

This area is reserved for members of the news media. If you qualify, please update your user profile and check the box marked "Check here to register as an accredited member of the news media". Please include any notes in the "Supporting information for media credentials" box. We will notify you of your status via e-mail in one business day.