Some parts of the book's chapters
On Shared Roads – "A Wonderful Dream Coming True"
Tibor Duray came from a family of poor tradesmen and lost his father when he was one and half years old. His road toward art shows a number of traits in common with the Derkovits model. In a family of six constantly struggling financially, there could be no discussion of continuing his education. When it came to choosing his career, after he had finished four years of secondary school, the young boy’s parents decided upon carpentry, a trade promising instant, autonomous income. At the end of August 1926, Duray’s stepfather Bálint Gerber signed his son’s apprentice contract with the prestigious Endre Thék Furniture Factory, which offered a modest salary of 30,000 crowns a week – a sum that seemed considerable due to soaring prices during the era of inflation.
According to his hand-written autobiography, Duray left the carpentry shop at the age of fifteen and, following his stepfather’s example, decided to become a tailor. He studied and worked in this trade for almost seven years; meanwhile, his dreams slowly nourished within him a life-changing decision. ’My desire for art grew stronger by the day.
I started to go to museums and read books. I spent all my free time painting and drawing, and the initially instinctive urge evolved into a conscious intention: I wanted to be a professional painter.’
On Shared Roads – In Front of An Audience
In March 1934, Duray and, of course, Aba-Novák – who supported his students in all imaginable ways – thought the time was ripe for the first public challenge. After his first attempts (demonstrating little more than his childhood drawings), later works (suffering the unavoidable pitfalls of experimentation in different techniques: coal, pastel, and oil), then the studies (documenting his systematic progress at the open school); his first exhibition-worthy paintings came to light in 1933, the previous year. Following an almost decade-long tradition, the Spring Salon was organised by the Szinyei Merse Pál Association and offered a venue for the youngest generation of artists to debut their work. Participants found worthy were selected by a jury, elected in turn by the Association, which counted Aba-Novák among its members. Apart from the diligence and the talent of the students, the decision what to include must have also depended on the master’s professional judgement. While Ferenc Redő was only allowed to show some lino prints and Marosán applied with one single painting, Duray got to display three of his oil paintings at his first public showing.[…]
These initial successes gave Duray wings. Forced to work as a tailor, he only painted in his free time; however, his uncorked self-confidence, his master’s inspring encouragement, and the stimulating experiences he shared with his newfound artist friends resulted in a sudden flow of creative energies. Undeniably, the most significant works in Duray’s entire oeuvre were produced during the one year after the Spring Salon of 1934.
Destined for Success – "I started to paint pictures"
Duray could return home for good in October 1935, once he had completed his military service in Szentendre. In the next few months, he worked with unparalleled intensity. Now that he had found a theme (after a lengthy search), digested the inspring pictures at the Derkovits exhibit, and experienced increased confidence in his manual capabilities (thanks to strenuous practice), the foundation was laid for the beginning of a new epoch. He even highlights this period of his career in his autobiography: ’After a short and hesitating search, the suppressed, dormant energies found their outlet, ant I started to paint pictures instead of studies.’[…]
Not only did the six museum-quality paintings presented at the Spring Salon win the Szinyei Association’s prize, they also generated considerable press response. All critics dedicated substantial attention to Duray’s performance. More importantly, two of the most prominent art writers of the period, Ervin Ybl (mentioning Derkovits’ influence) and Artúr Elek (emphasising the example of Bernáth), both described the paintings as the most important pieces at the exhibition.