Commonpress 51 / Hungary Can Be Yours

Mail-art is most similar to what you find in your mailbox

Artpool Art Research Center is a non-profit organization based in Budapest that follows up on the versatile activities of Hungarian non-conformist artists György Galántai (1941) and Júlia Klaniczay (1954). Since 1979 they have been running an archive focused on non-traditional forms of art, especially postal art. Postal or mail art – small artworks sent by post (drawings, stamps, author's books, graphics, photographs, collages, assemblages, etc.) – was one of few possibilities for Eastern European artists to demonstrate to the world their artistic efforts. In the 1970s and 80s, the community of mail-artists created a global net of contact addresses, "the network", through which the works travelled. In addition to the exchange of works, postal artists participated in joint thematic exhibitions.


Between 1979 and 1989, Artpool held a series of international mail-art meetings. In 1983 György Galántai prepared the Hungarian issue of the international mail-art magazine Commonpress and sent out a call to create works of art with the intention of publishing them in the 51st issue of the magazine. The subsequent exhibition Hungary Can Be Yours was held in 1984 and was attended by 46 Hungarian authors as well as 58 foreign artists from 18 nations. Since the event was banned at the last minute, the exhibition was open for only three days, starting on January 27, 1984. The opening – with Radio Artpool's broadcast program including audio documentaries from the alternative art scene – was attended by more than 400 people. Hungary Can Be Yours was the last exhibition banned in Hungary. The current presentation aims to show works of art exhibited at that time, contextualized alongside documents by the secret police, which were made available in 2000.

Dozens of Czech and Slovak artists also participated in mail-art exhibitions: Karel Adamus, Klára Bočkayová, Eugen Brikcius, Michal Cihlář, Rudolf Fila, Josef Hampl, Olaf Hanel, Jiří Hůla, Dalibor Chatrný, Jozef Jankovič, Igor Kalný, Miroslav Klivar, Milan Knížák, Jiří Hynek Kocman, Jiří Kolář, Vladimír Kordoš, Ladislav Novák, Ivan Preissler, Pavel Rudolf, Rudolf Sikora, Jan Steklík, Petr Ševčík, Dezidér Tóth, Jiří Valoch, Jan Wojnar, Olbram Zoubek, and many others. We try to capture this creative work in the Archive of Fine Art; at the exhibition we present a number of their works for comparison with Hungarian and other foreign authors.

About Artpool:


Artpool Art Research Center is a Budapest based art archive, library, documentation and research center focusing on experimental art and the non-official art scene in Hungary from the 1960s on, also collecting materials on the contemporary avant-garde tendencies. Established in 1979 by György Galántai and Júlia Klaniczay Artpool could not operate legally until 1989. In 1992 it started its operation as an NGO and opened its archive for researchers and the larger audience and organized public events, exhibitions, etc. In 2015 Artpool joined the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest and continues its operation as an independent