Istvan Farkas’s father Josef Wolfner was part owner of Singer and Wolfner publishers. In 1902, Istvan Farkas started to paint with the drawing teacher Laszlo Mednyánsky, who died in 1919. Two years later, he exhibited at the Budapest National Exhibition. During the summer of 1906, he stayed at the artists’ colony in Baia Mare where he painted for six weeks. He went on to study at Adolf Fenyes’ studio. In 1908, he went to Italy on a study trip. One year later, he returned to Budapest and enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts. He attended the Kern Academy in Munich and went to Paris for the first time in 1912. He studied at the Académie de la Palette until World War I. As he was then forced to go back to Hungary, he sold all of his paintings at auction before returning to Budapest.
Between 1915 and 1919, Farkas served on the Russian, Italian, and Serbian fronts. After the war, he spent his time between Budapest and Visegrad and participated in several exhibitions. Back in Paris in 1924, he met his future wife Ida Kohner. He was close to the pioneers of modern architecture Le Corbusier and Auguste Perret, and also spent time with Picasso’s circle of friends: Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob, and Apollinaire. André Salmon asked him to illustrate his collection of poetry Correspondances, which was published in 1930. When Farkas’s father died in 1932, he decided to return to Budapest and take over Singer and Wolfner publisher. He did not abandon painting and participated in several exhibitions in Paris, Budapest, and Venice.
On April 15, 1944, the secretary general of the chamber of journalists gave German soldiers the name of fifty-four Jewish journalists, including Istvan Farkas. He was first brought to Kistarcsa (a prison near Budapest) and then to Kecskemét from where he was deported to Auschwitz on June 27, 1944. He was killed on the day he arrived in Auschwitz. On June 23, 1944, he wrote his last postcard in Kecskemét, in which he stated: “If human dignity can be humiliated to such an extent, it is no longer worth living.”
Capitale des arts, le Paris des années 1905-1939 attire les artistes du monde entier. De cette période de foisonnement, un terme est resté, celui d'Ecole de Paris, qui recouvre une grande diversité d'expression artistique. Dans ce brassage dont Montparnasse est le creuset, un groupe se distingue : celui des artistes juifs venus de Russie, de Pologne et d'Europe centrale. Si leurs styles sont variés, un destin commun les rassemble : ils fuient l'antisémitisme de leur pays d'origine. Certains ont connu la célébrité dès les années 1920, tels Soutine, Lipchitz ou Chagall. D'autres n'ont pas eu le temps ou la chance d'y accéder. Près de la moitié a péri dans les camps de concentration nazis.
From 1905 to 1939, Paris attracted artists from all over the globe as the capital of the art world. This period of artistic proliferation became known as the School of Paris, and includes a great diversity of artistic expression. Within the teeming art world centred on Montparnasse, one group set itself apart: Jewish artists from Russia, Poland, and Central Europe. Although their styles were diverse, they shared the common fate of fleeing anti-Semitic persecutions in their home countries. Some became famous in the 1920s, such as Soutine, Lipchitz, and Chagall, while others did not have the time or the luck to gain renown. Nearly half of these artists died in Nazi concentration camps.