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A Hungarian artistic, literary, and political group, active from about 1914 to about 1926. It was the most important of the associations that emerged after the break-up of The Eight, Hungary's pioneering avant-garde group. The Eight and the Activists had one member in common, Lajos Tihanyi (1885–1938), but the Activists were more radical in outlook and agitated for the creation of a socialist society. Stylistically, the Activists were influenced by several recent movements, including Cubism, Expressionism, and Futurism, and later Dada and Constructivism. An important stimulus to the group was provided by an exhibition of Expressionist and Futurist art at the National Salon in Budapest in 1913 (previously shown at the Sturm Gallery in Berlin). The Activists formed only a loose grouping, but a focus for their activities was provided by the journal MA (Hungarian for ‘today’), founded in 1916 by the writer and artist (painter, sculptor, printmaker, collagist) Lajos Kassák (1887–1967). Kassák had previously published (1915–16) an anti-war periodical A Tett (‘The Deed’), which had been banned by the authorities as ‘propaganda hostile to the nation’. The first issue of MA included an essay by Kassák entitled ‘The Poster and the New Painting’, in which he argued that painting should aspire to the same kind of vivid communication as the political poster. Several Activists did in fact produce posters during the brief Communist regime in Hungary in 1919. This regime banned MA, but Kassák began publication again in Vienna after he moved there in 1920. MA ran until 1926, when Kassák returned to Hungary.

Subjects: Art.

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