Artist biography

Zoltan Kemeny 1907-1965

Hungarian-born artist chiefly known for his metal reliefs, composed somewhat like paintings. Born in Banica, a village in Transylvania. Apprenticed to a cabinet maker 1921-3. Studied interior decoration and architecture at the School of Decorative Arts in Budapest 1924-7 and painting at the School of Fine Arts there 1927-30. Moved to Paris 1930-40, where he earned his living as a designer of wrought-iron objects and lamps and later as a fashion designer, then lived from 1940-2 in Marseilles. Settled in 1942 in Zurich where he worked as a fashion designer and as fashion editor of a Swiss magazine, and also began to paint again. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie des Eaux-Vives, Zurich, 1945. Met Dubuffet in 1946 and started to make relief collages incorporating unusual materials such as sand, iron slag and pebbles, and in 1951 to make reliefs which were coloured and luminous. Made his first metal 'relief images' in 1954. Obtained Swiss nationality in 1957. Gave up his fashion jobs to devote himself entirely to sculpture in 1960, and in his last years carried out several large commissions, including a brass sculpture for the municipal theatre in Frankfurt 1963. Awarded the main sculpture prize at the 1964 Venice Biennale. Died in Zurich.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.384