Bela de Kristo (1920 – 2006)
Bela de Kristo was born in Hungary on the 15th of May, 1920. He studied at the Theresianum Vienna University and in 1939 at The Budapest School of Art. As a student Bela de Kristo was involved in set design and was a member of the first cinema club in Hungary. The Newspaper of Budapest also published his cartoons.
After graduating, Bela De Kristo moved to Paris where he organised an exhibition of Hungarian artists in 1947. Whilst in Paris, his home country was occupied by the Soviet army and consequently he decided to settle indefinitely in Paris. De Kristo regularly frequented the Academy Julian and La Grande Chaumiere. In 1948 he took part in a public exhibition at the Duncan Gallery and later in 1950 he exhibited in The Cannes Exhibition at the Carlton Gallery. Four years later he set up a large workshop on la Rue Vignon, which became a creative hub, where one could find professionals from the press, publishing, and the art world. At this time, many of de Kristo’s drawings and cartoons appeared in Paris Match, but the majority of his time was spent focusing on painting.
Bela de Kristo’s work is hugely varied. He constantly renewed his mode of expression, making models, photomontages, illustrated children’s books, cartoons, and theatre stage sets. Using a rigorous cubist format, de Kristo’s work displays an additional sensitivity and a softened vision of the world. In his early period he was greatly influenced by the Russian Constructivists, such as Malevich, as well as Picasso’s synthetic cubist works. This combination of influences is in evidence in Suprematist Composition, (1948). There is an ever present humour in his work, sometimes naïve in its display. De Kristo wanted the viewer to consider surface beauty along with the subjective depth. He was a lover of colour and by harmonising shades and tones, he broke the line and curve of objects and light into the multiple perspectives of cubism. Drawing from the subjects that surrounded him, Bela de Kristo was inspired by the happenings of everyday life. He tried to use abstraction in a similar way to the Surrealists but it was in his cubism that he excelled.
After withdrawing from the Parisian world, Bela de Kristo moved to Normandy, where he died in 2006.