Sándor Bortnyik

Space, Woman, Me

1893 Targu Mures - 1976 Budapest
Canvas, 41 x 51 cm
Signed and dated 1924    


Our painting "Raum, Frau, Ich" has been hidden for almost hundred years from public in a private collection and certainly represents a turning point in Bortnyiks' artistic development. The only known reproduction of the painting "Space, Woman,Me", was a black and white photograph in the periodical Periszkóp, April, 1925.

Sándor Bortnyik studied in 1910 at the free art school in Budapest where he met Lajos Kassák, Janos Mattis Teutsch, Gyula Derkovits und Béla Uitz. During this time he was influenced by german Expressionism and french Cubism.

After the fall of the Hungarian Soviet Republic Bortnyik followed Kassák and his circle to Vienna where he began to create his geometric abstract compositions.

Between 1922 and 1924 Bortnyik stayed in Weimar, which was the center of the Bauhaus. He was strongly inspired by Theo van Doesburg who announced and praised the abstraction of De Stijl and who was the most important vanguard of the constructivist turn which profoundly influenced and later determined the image of Bauhaus. His pictures, painted in the spirit of "Constructivisme" can be found in such famous collections as Thyssen-Bornemisza or Emilio Bertonati.

Bortnyik was very much affected by the Constructivist's principles and its creation of the perfect order based on abstraction. He also was very interested in architectural space in combination with the human figure. Bortnyik creates a universe of planes and a rhythm of dimensions. The stage design of Bauhaus has certainly influenced his compositions and can definitely also be traced in our painting. There is another painting of very similar composition - concerning the abstract geometric design, but without any staff age. Another painting which is also dated 1924, is mainly focused on the male and female protagonists and not as much on the geometric forms. 

Therefore "Space, Woman, Me" painted in 1924 presents an artistic turn by the synthesis of purely abstracted compositions,  inhabiting these highly geometrical spaces with people. The people in his paintings provided the artist with the opportunity to show his ironic- and skeptical sense of humor. 

In our painting the whole male/female conflict is approached in a cynical but nevertheless very ironic way. The women, presented like a shop - figure doll is certainly the main focus. Presented on a platform, semi-nude, for the mere attraction of the spectator, the female figure seems to be intangible. The man in this composition is drawn into the background, sitting in his yellow shirt in a posture reminding of a dog waiting for his gratification. It is certain that the beholder can realize the ironic connotation at first sight. The colour scheme is in large parts grey and the colourful spotlights are red - for the women background and the bright yellow shirt of the man.






Private Collection, Košice


Periszkóp (periodical) 1925. April.
Borbély, László: Bortnyik Sándor korai müvészete (The Early Art of Sándor Bortnyik). Müvészettörténeti Értesítö (Art History Review), 1969. No. I. p. 68.


Fig. 3 Sándor Bortnyik: Geometric Forms in Space, 1924, private property

Fig. 4 Sándor Bortnyik: Forbárth Architect and his Wife, 1924

Fig. 5 Sándor Bortnyik, "The new Adam", 1924, oil on canvas, 48.3 × 38 cm, Museum of fine Arts Budapest