Elek Koronghi Lippich, head of the Department of Art of the Ministry of Public Education and Religious Affairs between 1899 and 1912 had definite views on art politics. He was in favour of a modernised national art that drew inspiration of forms and themes from folk art and traditions as opposed to historicist architecture, applied arts and academic painting, which were deemed incapable of demonstrating the cultural independence of the nation. His program was in evidence in his appointment and state funding decisions: he extended his friendly support to the members of the Gödöllő artists’ colony, Géza Maróti, Károly Kós and others. It was his idea to start the book series ’The Art of the Hungarian People’, edited by writer and critic Dezső Malonyay.

From 1905 onwards Lajta rented a flat and a studio in painter Philip de László’s villa, which was one of the set of neo-medieval buildings near the Városliget (City Park) built in 1897, where Lippich had his house as well. Lajta began to work on the plans of Dezső Malonyay’s villa that was to stand right next to that of Lippich just when the two were busy compiling the first volume of ’The Art of the Hungarian People’, giving an overview of the art of the Kalotaszeg region. No wonder that the private collections of all the three of them had very similar woodcarvings from Kalotaszeg.

Lajta designed a medieval revival bronze baptismal font for the baptism of Elek Lippich’s grandson – the only commission he ever got through his connection with Lippich. The item featured at the Exhibition of Religious Art of 1908 at the Budapest Műcsarnok [Palace of Arts].

However, the makeshift coalition of academic artists and Western-oriented modernists, whose interests he had equally infringed upon, put a stop to Lippich’s further career in late 1910. At the time, apart from the artists of Gödöllő and a few artist teachers dependent on him, Lajta was the only person to try and defend him, saying ’he had great accomplishments to do with Hungarian architecture’, while the architect’s colleagues and friends, Béla Málnai and József Vágó pointed out that ’Lippich would seek to stop Lechner’s Magyarizing tendencies’ – a rather justified claim.

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Elek Lippich de Korongh
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Applied art object
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