Henri EPSTEIN
January 2, 2019
Alexandre FASINI
January 2, 2019

Istvan FARKAS

BUDAPEST 1887 – DEPORTED TO AUSCHWITZ 1944

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.”