Artworks in a range of media show how the postwar generation created a unique voice, symptomatic for Hungary under state socialism, while disordering the boundaries imposed by the Tiltott, Tűrt, Támogatott [Banned, tolerated, promoted] system. Artists in Hungary found ways to move forward despite the challenges presented by socialist policies, censorship, punishment, and financial precarity. Their resources included state-provided art education, day jobs, and travel; unofficial mentors; and private exhibition venues and ingenious use of public spaces. Absorbing the importance of constructivism and abstraction from the historical avant-garde, the younger artists embraced geometric abstraction as the concept of the origin of postwar art. Once they internalized the system of abstraction, they could exchange its elements (the square, the cube, the line) for visual idioms from folk art, political symbols, and nature itself. Artists Imre Bak, Gábor Attalai, and the Pécs Workshop represent this cultural legacy. Scholarship on the art of the early 1970s predominantly follows the markers artists had set for themselves—to emphasize the artistic interchange with the West—but in the current context of reframing global modernism, the systems of visual languages in Hungary deserve attention.

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