Afternoon in the Garden
Sándor (Alexandru) Ziffer
He studied in Budapest first, between 1895 and 1900 - at the School of Industrial Drawing and the School of Arts and Crafts, then in Munich, starting 1900 - at the Academy of Fine Arts, since 1901 - at the Private School of Painting Anton Ažbe. Advised by Gyula Rudnay, Ziffer takes part, between 1902 and 1904, in the classes of the Private School of Painting of Simon Hollósy. Perhaps the most significant private school outside the Paris "academies", it is estimated that about 1000 painters attended Hollósy's school, a true cultural hub, particularly for artists from Central and eastern Europe, but it also had students from Germany or Switzerland. Some of the most important students were Istvan Reti, Janos Thorma or even the Romanian painters Arthur Verona or Samuel Mützner). Hollósy's influence on Ziffer could be felt in his earlier period, the works of the latter falling under the label of Post-Impressionism later on. In 1906 he settles in Baia Mare for good, as an independent artist, frequently travelling abroad. He was driven to go to Baia Mare by the future avant-garde artist Béla Czóbel (1883-1976), who also advised him to visit and to work in Paris. In his frequent journeys to the French capital in the period 1905-1915, he approached Post-Impressionists, the Nabis group and the charm of the Fauves; these effects left marks on his entire future career. He was active in France, in Moelon, between 1906 and 1907, and in Germany, in Berlin, between 1914 and 1918, where he saw in exhibitions certain forms of Expressionism that later influenced his creation. He was included in the Salon of the Independents in Paris in 1906, 1907, 1910, 1911, showing his works in Hungary, Germany, the United States, Austria and Czechoslovakia, as well.
Ziffer finally settled in Baia Mare after the end of World War I, in the autumn of 1918. He came with his wife - the Berlin painter Käthe Beckhaus (1886-1976) - after failed attempts to open a school of painting in Munich first, and later in Berlin. After 1920 he managed to get a teaching job, working for a short while at the Baia Mare Colony, invited by Thorma. Later on, in 1932, he tutored the young students expelled from the School.
The 20s are the years when Ziffer made experiments in the stylistic regime, more concerned with structure and compositions with human figures. Landscape falls second for a while, even though it is undeniably the artist's favourite subject. This composition, painted in 1922, is clearly one of the most significant achievements of the artist, beyond its impressive size. With an intimate subject, the canvas impresses with both its composition and its manner of painting. The main range, taken over by a family scene, in a garden, where we see 4 characters in a moment of tenderness, is exceptionally supported by the lower range. The landscape in the background reminds us of the German avant-garde, of Franz Marc's landscapes or those made by Kandinsky at the end of the first decade in the 20th century.
MURÁDIN, Jenő, "Poduri suspendate", Baia Mare, 2015
"Pictori din Transilvania în centre artistice europene", Palatul Brukenthal, Sibiu, 2007