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Agricola Lidia

1914, Baia Mare – 1994, Baia Mare

The life

Her father was not her father. The father of her only child lost his life in a forced labor camp. Her son died before her. This is the life of Agricola Lídia.

The art

Rooted in the traditions of Plein Air Painting, Outdoor Painting, of Baia Mare, her art is composed of landscapes, still lifes, outdoor compositions, and also paintings with propagandistic themes.

An outstanding experience for Lídia's life

She was born in 1914 in a family where the father was a car operator and the mother ran a hostel (to supplement the family income), which was frequently visited by artists such as Simon Hollósy, István Szőnyi, Aurél Bernáth, and Albert Paál.

Finally, after the eighteen-year childless marriage of her alleged parents, it turned out that Károly Ágrikola, the car operator, was not her biological father, but Albert Paál, the painter whom she visited several times in Budapest.

Her mother was the one who discovered her passion for painting at a very early age and decided to put her under the guidance of János Thorma. During her studies at the painters' colony Baia Mare she had András Mikola as her teacher from 1929 to 1932, who then expelled her and the whole group of young artists to which she belonged from the colony because of her interest in leftist ideologies and political activities. The group, which was left without a guide, asked the painter József Klein to become their teacher, but in the end, their work became more of a group workshop in Klein's studio than a classic master-student relationship. Nevertheless, this was the favorable context in which they familiarized themselves with the publications of Bauhaus and Lajos Kassák or albums by Kollwitz, Grosz, Picasso, Chagall, Braque, Leger, Kandinsky, and Archipenko. From an artistic point of view, Agricola Lídia, although she did not participate in Klein's workshop, was significantly influenced by Sándor Ziffer, whom the group asked to play the role of mentor after leaving Professor Klein for Bucharest. The correction of Ziffer was an outstanding experience for Lídia's life. In the meantime, drawing according to a model was becoming more and more difficult financially, which meant that the moment the group refused the master's financial contribution in 1933 was the moment the group disbanded.

A couple of artists

In 1934 she married the Jewish painter Márton Katz, whom she met in the colony Baia Mare, and two years later Ivan, her only child, was born. The two of them held workshops that became meeting places for young painters with the same political views, facts that the painter János Karácsony mentions in his memoirs. At that time Agricola was a well-known painter who constantly took part in group exhibitions of the colony, but due to financial difficulties she had to work as an illustrator of covers and her husband Katz as a grammar teacher.

An important milestone in the couple's artistic career was the fact that Agricola was awarded an honorary doctorate at the Transylvanian Art Group Exhibition held between 1938 and 1939 at Official Salon in Budapest, and that her talent was recognized by critics such as Károly Lyka and Artúr Elek. During the Second World War, she continuously exhibited works of art, such as two landscapes (1943, at the opening exhibition of the pavilion of Fine Arts in Cluj), for the first time a figurative composition - a self-portrait (1943) and five landscape, interior and still life paintings (1944). This was also the time when her husband was deported to a forced labor camp in Ukraine. There he lost his life, which meant that Lídia Agricola had to raise her child alone. She also had to offer her strong, expressive works for sale. Her place of storage is still unknown to art historians today.

The reconstruction of her world after the Second World War

After the end of the war, she played a remarkable role in the reorganization of the colony of Baia Mare and in the organization of art education, and also in the foundation of the school of Fine Arts (1954). For her work on socialist propaganda, she was awarded a State Prize (1952), received the Order of Excellence, and participated in the 26th edition of Venice Biennale (1954) and exhibited in Sofia, Warsaw, and Berlin (in the following years). As for her private life, she married the painter László Weith, with whom she lived together for twenty years. Later she lost her only son Iván (1980). Fourteen years later she died (on 22 April 1994) in Baia Mare.

The artist's signature was her landscapes, still lifes, and outdoor compositions. She emphasized the painterly quality of her paintings on propagandistic themes from the 1950s, which she did not deny. With regard to the landscapes of Baia Mare and the flower still lifes, which from the 1960s onwards came back to the fore as a subject in her art, she explained in an interview (1965): “The old Baia Mare, which has been documented by many painters and talented masters, but about the changing city, my pictures might have something to add. I wish that through my paintings the city will be loved and admired by the people who see it as a developing industrial city with a distant, foreign curiosity or who only know it from history.”


Landscape of Baia Mare

oil, canvas, 97.5 x 107 cm

Landscape of Baia Mare