Tibor Duray was born in Budapest on 21 January to János Duray a master tailor and Maria Brauer. He lost his father at age six, and his mother married again. His stepfather, Bálint Gerber, was also a tailor. They all worked together in the workshop of their home on Dohány Street. The familiy’s financial situation was bleak, and Duray’s childhood was one of deprivation. He took great joy in the scout’s movement, where he learned respect and attention to detail – threads that would run throughout his entire life. In spite of his early interest, an art career was out of the question. Because of the family’s poverty, he could only pursue manual labour. Starting in 1926, he learned furniture-making for a time at the Thék Factory. However, this came to an end in 1928, when he caught typhus from the Danube’s waters.
Beginning in 1928, Duray worked as an apprentice tailor for seven years, drawing in the evenings. Meanwhile, Jenő Gadányi, who had studied in Paris, took on his instruction at the recommendation of Duray’s former drawing teacher at school.
After work, he attended Mrs Miklós Marsovszky’s open school in the city centre, where Vilmos Aba-Novák and Károly Patkó corrected his work. From the end of the year until 1936, he studied at Aba-Novák’s painting academy.
In March, he took part in the Szinyei Merse Pál Association’s Spring Salon exhibit with three paintings. In the summer, the periodical Theatre Life carried a photo of him and his work Sisters. He hiked around Lake Balaton with two painter friends, Ferenc Redő and Gyula Marosán. After his return, he painted their grandiose triple portrait in memory of the journey. In October, the Gyula Dekovits exhibit opened at the Ernst Museum. What he saw there had a decisive influence on his entire career.
Duray presented only one painting at the 10th Spring Salon, the unfortunately lost Blind Boy, which the critic for The Evening named on the exhibit’s most beautiful works. Also that year, he produced his early period’s principle work, Eve. From February to October, he completed his military service at the bridgehead in Szentendre, where he began making linocuts before he found the means to paint. Once he had his supplies, he decided to give up tailoring and become a painter. He began working with extraordinary energy, commencing his outstanding series to be displayed in the National Salon’s exhibit the following year.
Six of his works were displayed at the Szinyei Association’s 11th Spring Salon, including Ironing Woman and Around the Oven. The critics unanimously praised them, nothing his work’s kinship to that of Derkovits and Aurél Bernáth. He won the Szinyei Association’s prize. In April, at Aba-Novák’s request, he took part in the execution of the immense panel pictures for the Hungarian Pavilion of the Milan Triennial. He spent the summer at an artist colony in Szolnok. The pictures prepared there were displayed at the colony’s autumn exhibition, where, besides Gyula Marosán and Vera Vass, he also won an award. On returning home at the end of the year, he painted Boy with Airplane, one of the works that introduced his new style.
Starting in December, he worked for five months as Vilmos Aba-Novák’s assistant on the panel painting Franco-Hungarian Historic Connections for the Paris World Expo. He participated in every stage of the work’s realisation, greatly contributing to the piece’s winning the world expo’s grand prize.
Duray moved from his parents’ flat on Dohány Street to a small garret on Hunyadi Square. There he painted the work Sleepers, which the artist considered to be the bridge that led him from the legacy of Derkovits to his own unique world. His pictures portraying Hunyadi Square are the first outstanding pieces of this period.
During the time spent as a fellow of the Roman-Hungarian Academy, from the autumn of 1937 until July the next year, he formed life-long ties to Italy. His themes here often brought him in contact with the poor and downtrodden. Still his colours grew richer and stronger as a result of his experiance. He travelled Italy from Venice to Naples, even reaching the Isle of Capri. He formed friendships with two other academy fellows, Jenő Szabados and László Bartha. Also, he met special-needs teacher Adrienne Lévai, his future wife, who also resided in Rome on a scholarship. Italy would later serve as an escape for Duray.
His pictures painted in Rome were displayed at the Roman-Hungarian Academy’s summer exhibit. After his return home, he worked some weeks in Szolnok.
Duray presented work at the Ernst Museum with Péter Szüle and László Marosán. In his pieces, the depiction of his identification with the poor and downtrodden became more passionate, with the promise of expressive, dramatic portrayal. The first indications of this occurred early that year in his India ink and oil series prepared in Dénesfa – simple, yet built upon the dramatic contrast of ambitious, black and white forms. Countess Ilona Cziráky-Andrássy (wife of József Cziráky, the Lord Lieutenant and governor) personally invited him to Dénesfa, in the region of Sopron. He applied unsuccessfully for the Balló Ede Fine Arts Foundation’s grant for that year. On 14 June, he married Adrienne Lévai, and they travelled to Switzerland after their wedding. Afterwards, he had his first taste of Transylvania. Duray worked in Csíkzsögöd and the area, but only made studies. In the second half of the year, he was summoned him again for military service, to the bridgehead at Komárom.
He was summoned several times and occasionally served as a soldier for one- or two-month periods. He shared in miserable and degrading experiences. The base motifs of many later unsettling pictures originate from this time.
He dabbled in sculpture as well. At the Szinyei Association’s Spring Salon, he won the Beckói Bíró Henrik Prize for his picture Transylvanian Woodcutters.
He appeared in the National Salon’s 8 Painters – 8 Scuplures exhibition. Artúr Elek wrote about him in the 5 April edition of The News. He made his first plaster sculpture of a bull, entiteld Recoiling Bull, and he went to Dénesfa several times during the year.
In January, he took part in the exhibition called 1942 at the National Salon. Later, he appeared at the Tamás Gallery’s self-portrait exhibit. At the end of the year, he showed his work again at the National Salon as a member of the New Association of Fine Arts (KUT – Képzőművészek Új Társaság). After receiving the Székely Land Fellowship, he worked for a few months in Transylvania. In May, he sought aid from the mayor to secure a grant from the foundation for the Coronation Jubilee of Franz Joseph. As the letter shows, has was strongly drawn to the prospect of painting frescoes. He made his first bronze medal, Tree Planters.
Eszter, Duray’s first daughter, was born on 28 July. He worked again in Transylvania, where he was the guest of collector Ferenc Gaál in Gyergyószentmiklós. He dropped by Zsögöd, at the home of painter Imre Nagy, who invited him to Csíkszereda, too. In December, he took part in the Székely Land Fellows’ painting exhibit int he Fine Art Museum. He execulted his first fresco on the facade of the main entrance to Budapest’s breeding stock and livestock fair.
At the start of the year, Duray participated in an exclusive exhibition of Hungarian art organized at the Place of Art in Bern. He was featured in the National Salon’s Winter Exhibit, and in a group showcase that spring (at the same venue) where he displayed scupltures in addition to his paintings and drawings. As time went on, the war completely crushed his spirits. The Jewish Laws enraged him. He would go the ghetto and rescue people with fake papers, even using his father’s and his twice-married mother’s marriage certificates. He hid eight Jewis people in a converted laundry in his flat on Krúdy Street. He obtained food and bread from several shops, lest someone realize that he was feeding several others. His wife was supposed to be on the last transport from the brick factory, and since their landlord was Arrow Cross, they pretended to depart for the brick factory, but Adrienne found refuge in a nearby orphanage. Meanwhile, he had to hide as well, because his wife concealed his conscription papers. When their house was hit by a bomb, he survived it in the closet of his flat. Nonetheless, he found his own voice in the final, most horrible and inhuman period of the war. He found the monumental, expressive style which remained a strong basis for his painting in the later periods, too.
In May, he was featured in the Socialist and Labour Artists’ Spring Exhibit held at the former Ernst Museum. He began to work with stained glass. At this time, the only means to support his family was delivering papaers at dawn.
He joined in the work of the newly-formed Free Association of Artists as a member of the selection committee, and he became a member of both the informal group of ’Wednesdayers” and the Rippl-Rónai Society, serving as a jury member for their March exhibit. He made several small-scale glass compositions which are among his most fascinating works in this direction. Lilla, his second child, was born on 2 July.
At the joint exhibit he shared with Margit Szilvássy at the Focus Gallery, Duray displayed more than fifty drawings and water-colours, as well as seven plans for stained glass. He also took part in a travelling exhibition for the Hungarian State Coal Mines.
He travelled to Paris on a fellowship in the spring. The French capital proved a refreshing change after the horrors of war. His works completed there show a rebirth in colour and form. The letters he wrote to his wife Adrienne tell of his experiences, his growing zest for work, and the birth of a few pictures. Occasionally, he worked at a private academy, the Grand Chaumiére. In May, in the company of art historian Ervin Ybl, he visited the cathedral in Chartres, where the stained glass windows had a profound effect of him. He painted, drew, and planned stained glass windows. His series of gouaches from Cannes reflects the French seaside’s light and colours. In November 1947, he exhibited with Lajos Szentiványi and László Bartha, who had also received fellowships, in the Galerie Guénégaud of Paris. Although he would have gladly stayed, he had to return in the autumn of 1948, which caused his mild depression in subsequent years.
Duray displayed his Paris works in November, at an exhibition in Budapest’s Rózsa Miklós Salon, organized by Gábor Ö. Pogány, his most influential supporter. The catalogue’s foreword and the critics present expressed reservations. His drawings appeared in the exhibit 100 Years of Hungarian Graphic Works at the Capital Gallery, as well as the Contemporary Hungarian Art showcase in London, where one of his pictures won the „best drawing” title.
In the Peace Drawing Competition, the jury selected his woodcut We Will Protect Peace among the ten winners. He spent a few weeks at the artist colony in Sárospatak, where he would eagerly return in the future.
The first sweeping review of Hungarian artists in the compulsory Social Realist style, the 1st Hungarian Fine Arts Exhibition in the Palace of Arts, was a huge fiasco for Duray. His Model Worker’s Loge was sharply criticised in many forums. Despite the fact that the Minister of Culture bought his other painting on display (I’ve Become an Honour Student, portraying his daughter Eszter), the injuries he suffered plunged him into a deep depression. The hurrah-style optimism was not for him; his style of expression and themes were inherently unsuited to the stated goals of cultural politics at the time. His painting ceased temporarily, and he began to work intensively with small tree-dimensional pieces. He taught figure drawing in the Textil Faculty of the College of Fine Arts, 1949-1952. Meanwhile, he contributed to the frescoes for the headquarters of the National Association of Hungarian Building Industry Workers (MÉMOSZ), and he submitted plans to a public commission for the decoration of a station along the proposed Budapest Underground Railway. His work did not meet with the approval of the judges.
Duray often visited the studio of his sculptor friend Jenő Kerényi. He painted several picture of his progress on the Ostapenko Memorial.
His solo exhibition opened in Fényes Adolf Hall. Also this year, he created his May Day Celebration relief, which was shown at the Palace of Art in 1954. This work was purchased by the State. His success in sculpting helped him slowly to overcome his years of depression.
At the artist colony in Sárospatak, he prepared small stained glass works and a series of small-scale landscapes.
At the Csók Gallery, he displayed the pictures he had painted in Sárospatak. In the 50s, he returned to this small town’s artist colony repeatedly.
In August, he prepared a sgrafitto intended for the tympanum of the elementary school near Gubacsi Bridge. One of its subjects depicted the dragon-slayer theme. The work was seriously damaged during the Revolution of 1956, and within a few years, it was destroyed completely. He won the public commission for another sgrafitto, meant to decorate the facede of the Miners’ Bath at Anna Mineshaft in Komló. Still, its execution was delayed until 1959.
The year’s principle work was Mourner. The painting ended up in Slovakia in 1977, after a purshasing tour by the Slovakian National Gallery. He won another commission for a sgrafitto in Komló. In April, his mother died. Duray had inherited his love of music and beautiful voice from her. The death profoundly upset the painter, already prone to pessimism.
In spring, he personally supervised the execution of a sgrafitto designed for the wall of the associate professors’ dormitory at the University of Miskolc. In August, he moved to a studio home on Máglya Way. When he had no studio, he often resided at artist colonies – not only in Sárospatak, but in Nagymaros, Vörösberény, and Zsennye.
Duray created Crucified, the heart-wringing exclamation of human suffering, and Dead Woman, a harrowing vision of devastation. In spring, he completed the sgrafitto on the facade of the miners’ bath.
He executed a sgrafitto for the entry hall of the Gelléri Andor Endre Elementary School in Rákosszentmihály.
His important paintings this year were War and Steated Peasant Woman. Besides mural commissions, he managed to feed his family throughout the 60s by painting landscapes for the Gallery Firm and filling a few orders for engravings.
On the occasion of his 50th birthday, an exhibition of his collected works opened in the Ernst Museum. He realised the sgrafitto decorating a post office in Keszthely. He travelled in Italy, where the journey relaxed and invigorated him. His exhibitions opened at the Medgyessy Hall in Hódmezővásárhely, the Rippl-Rónai Museum in Kaposvár, and the Palace of Art in Győr. In December, István Solymár’s analytical article For Duray’s Artwork appeared in the periodical Art.
From summer to autumn, he exhibited in the Bars Gallery in Rome, along with Attila Demjén, István D. Kurucz, and Gyula Pekáry. In a letter, Pablo Picasso listed Duray’s drawing Suffering among ’the visual art’s one hundered best graphic works’. Duray took part in the public commission announced for plans to decorate the windows of the Karancs Hotel in Salgótarján. He also began work on his monumental painting Memento.
He appeared in the exhibition Madách and Contemporary Visual Arts in Dürer Hall, and Hungarian Television filmed a documentary film about him. He also prepared a series of stage designs for a Moliére play.
His exhibition opened in the Csók István Gallery, and he appeared in the exhibit Hungarian Artists Against Fascism at the Hungarian National Gallery. Meanwhile, he filled several engraving orders for the Gallery Firm, simply to make a living.
He participated in a group exhibit in the Community Centre of Nagymaros. With some painter colleagues, he made a study tour in the Soviet Union.
After several years of work, Duray finished the painting Memento, condensing several superb and monumental compositions into one picture. He undertook the project without a commission. Later, the Hungarian National Gallery purchased the piece. He also took part in the gallery’s exhibit Modern Hungarian Graphic Art. Later, he had an extended stay in Transylvania with his wife.
Through a public tender, he won the commission to prepare stained glass windows for the columbary in the public cemetery of Debrecen. In this work, Duray juxtaposes life’s beauty and vividness with its final phase, the immutability of death.
He prepared two outlines for Golden Age, which he would complete in 1982. Like Memento, it is a definitive and summarising work which he undertook without commission. The 2 x 10 m picture is the antithesis of Memento. Here he strives to express peace and harmony.
He received the Munkácsy Prize and participated int he 10th Summer Exhibit in Szeged.
He realised the public cemetery’s stained glass windows and took part in the exhibition Against War and Fascism held in Warsaw. He also travelled in Transylvania, where he painted landscapes. These are rather lyrical works compared to his distinctive pictures from the early 1940s.
He participated in the Plans for Murals and Experiments with Material exhibit in the boardroom of Iparterv.
István Solymár’s Duray monograph is published.
He planned four windows for the Hilton Hotel’s Miklós Tower.
He took part in the 1st Portrait Biennial entitled Faces and Fates in Hatvan, where he received an honorary diploma. He also presented works at a jubilee exhibition for the artist colony in Szolnok and at the 1st Medal Biennial in Sopron. He would be featured at all the medal biennials in Sopron from then on.
His work was featured and won a prise at the Medal Museum in Wrocław, Poland.
An exhibition of Duray’s collected works took place at the School Gallery in Csepel, officially opened by painter András Balogh, with a conference in his honour. His medals were shown at the Moderna Ungerska Medaljer exhibit in Stockholm’s Kungl. Myntkabinettet. At the 2nd Medal Biennial in Sopron, he received the Art Gallery Prize for his works.
He was featured in an award-winners’ exhibit at the Medal Biennial in Sopron. At the Agliculture and Visual Arts exhibit held in the Agricultural Museum, he received an award from the Ministry of Food and Agliculture.
At the 3rd Medal Biennial in Sopron, he received the city council’s Civitas Fidelissima Prize.
A large exhibition of Duray’s collected works was held in the Palace of Art, officially opened by his old friend’s brother, the writer József Solymár. He was anxious over preparations for the exhibit, as is shown in the lines written for himself and not for the public: ’Now we will see large pictures, never displayed before, together with the others. I can still determine what I consider significant in my work; yet, I am afraid of exposing myself to anyone’s attacks. I am afraid for my current, relatively peaceful work procedure that allows me to arrange everything about me. I could easily be disturbed by an unfavourable reception.’ A book Mimi Kratochwill accompained the exhibit. József Vadas’ study Don Quixote under the Cross appeared in the 20 August edition of Life and Literature. Vadas’ negative criticism deeply affected Duray, who saw in it a complete misunderstanding and misinterpretation of his work. A retrospective exhibit also opened at the Déri Museum in Debrecen, where additional works were displayed.
For the parish church in the Baross Gábor Development of Nagytétény, he prepared a large stained glass window, his full-length Angered Christ. Heitler László, who greatly admired Tibor Duray, organised an exhibit of his works at the Jókai Mór Community Centre in Pápa.
He prepared sixteen stained glass windows, based on the signs of the zodiac, for a doctor’s consulting room in Krems, Austria. The commission somewhat eased the family’s always tight financial situation. The work was followed by a long, refreshing Italian excursion.
He prepared small travel pictures during a one-month journey in Italy.
A collected works exhibit opened at the Csepel Gallery, where he displayed his works painted in the Gyimes County within Transylvania’s Csík Region between 1939 and 1943. His new pictures: Jonah Trilogy, The Frightened, Birds of Death, Dózsa, Tortured, and Calvary. He also produced a 14-piece relief series for the church in Csepel’s Szent Imre Square. Also in Csepel, he made an altar-piece and stained glass windows, as well as a rose window for the parish church. In September and October, he made another long journey with his wife. Fulfilling an old dream, he travelled beyond Italy to Spain, reaching Madrid and Toledo. The Prado Museum and El Greco’s city were great experiences for him.
On February, he was fatally hit by a car near his flat. In the cemetery of Pilisborosjenő, his grave is decorated with his own relief works: portraits of himself and his wife, as well as 13th Station of the Cross, Deposition and Lamentation. Memorial exhibits were organized in September at the Csepel Gallery and in October at the Hatvan Gallery.