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The Critic

Janet M. Torpy, MD
JAMA. 2010;304(23):2563. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1836.
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Hungarian by birth, a European cosmopolitan by choice, Lajos Tihanyi (1885-1938) remains nestled in the shadows of more celebrated avant-garde artists of the early 20th century, such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Henri Matisse. Not stars of the theater that was the rapidly evolving art world of the time—or even supporting actors—Tihanyi's paintings patiently wait in the wings, to be appreciated as individual works, seen in the context of the shifting borders of central Europe. The decade of 1910-1920 and its First World War produced profound and devastating alterations to the world as it evolved from the 19th century: cataclysmic shifts in international geography, politics, and economics that occurred then are still influencing global dynamics. Amidst these changes erupted art that mirrored the upheaval, displaying tension and unease; paintings depicted struggles born of the era's tragedies, whether overt—in choice of subject matter or treatment thereof—or more subtle, using line, color, and technique.

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Lajos Tihanyi (1885-1938), The Critic, 1916, Hungarian. Oil on canvas. 51.1 × 41.6 cm. Courtesy of The Brooklyn Museum (http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/), Brooklyn, New York; gift of the Right Reverend John Torok, DD, 29.1302.

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