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Like Father, Like Son:  Szervátiusz Jenő, Szervátiusz Tibor

Top: Works of Szervátiusz Jenő: his first piece of carving; woman's head; a Fairy Tale prince.Bottom: Szervátiusz Tibor: Head of writer Szabó Dezső; On a Fiery Throne, depicting the execution of Dózsa György; Joint work: Memorial to Tamási Áron

Caption: Center, left: Boldogasszonykő by Tibor, in Győr. (Permission requested);  Bottom: Head of writer Szabó Dezső in Budapest, Tüzes trónon - On a fiery throne - evoking the execution of 16th century peasant revolt leader Dózsa György, both works by Tibor; memorial of writer Tamási Áron, a joint work by both father and son 

Szervátiusz Jenő, Szervátiusz Tibor


Szervátiusz Jenő was born in 1903, and was originally a carpenter, cartwright and wheelwright.  He learned to carve wood in carpentry workshops, carving his first wood bas-relief in 1924.  Obviously talented, the Kolozsvár Chamber of Commerce granted him a scholarship to the studio of sculptor Vágó Gábor in 1925.  Later that year, Jenő went to Paris for a couple of years, where he studied sculpting.

Returning to Transylvania, he obtained his degree.  Folk art was his main inspiration. He taught painting, wood carving and modelling, and taught at the Kolozsvár School of Fine Arts from 1949 to 1965.

Most of his works were done in wood, but he also created pieces in stone and marble.  He collaborated with his son Szervátiusz Tibor on a couple of memorials, one for the Transylvanian writer Tamási Áron in Farkaslaka, the other for the writer Jókai Mór in Pápa.

He had numerous individual and group exhibits throughout Transylvania and in Budapest, and received many national awards recognizing his work, both in Romania as well as in Hungary.  He has been called ”the most Transylvanian Hungarian sculptor”.

He died in Budapest in 1983.

A museum in Kolozsvár is dedicated to his work, and an annual award was established in his honor by his son Tibor during the centennial year  of his birth (2003).  Dispensed by a foundation named after him, it focuses on living Hungarian art – not only sculpture and painting, but even music – in the Carpathian Basin.

His son, Szervátiusz Tibor, was born in 1930.  Tibor was still a child when his parents divorced, and from then he lived with his mother, Lukács Ilona.  He attended the Kolozsvár School of Fine Arts from 1949 to 1955.  Bucarest was the scene of his first solo exhibit, where he also took his state exams three years later. Then he joined the Romanian Fine Arts League.  For a couple of years he carved puppets, then collaborated with his father Jenő on the memorial to the writer Tamási Áron at Farkaslaka. 

Due to harrassment by the Romanian Secret Police, Tibor moved to Hungary in 1977, where he was in demand as a sculptor, creating artwork for public squares.  Much of his inspiration came from Transylvanian folk carving.

Among his works are the 1956 memorial in Budafok, in bronze and stone; statues of writers including Petőfi, Ady, Szabó Dezső, Móricz Zsigmond; historic figures including Szt. István, Szt. László, Kőrösi Csoma Sándor, Dózsa György; a number of Madonnas, etc.  He exhibited not only in Bucarest and Kolozsvár, but also in various cities in Hungary, as well as in Helsinki, Finland and Rome, Italy.

But sculpting was not his only artistic manifestation.  Szervátiusz Tibor also authored a number of books on art (one of them was titled ”Népművészet, képzőművészet” – Folk Art, Fine Art). 

Like his father, Tibor was the recipient of many public awards, received the Kossuth Prize and was named ”A Nemzet Művésze” (The Nation’s Artist) in 2015.

He died on April 25th, 2018, in Budapest. He and his father brought a breath of fresh air, based on folk art, into the Hungarian art scene of the 20th (and early 21st) century.



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