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Lajos Kassak was born on March 21, 1887 to a peasant family in Ersekujvar in northern Hungary. He left school at the age of twelve to become an apprentice blacksmith and metal worker. During his teenage years he lived a nomadic existence, but in 1909 he hiked to France, where he discovered the world of culture in the poetry of Apollinaire and the painting of Robert Delaunay and Picasso.
When he returned to Hungary, he established himself as a leader of the Hungarian cultural revolution. He was influenced by the ideas of the Symbolists, moving on to more advanced ideas under the influence of French Cubism and Italian Futurism. With the outbreak of World War, Kassak took a strong antiwar stance, expressed in a periodical he launched. But the Hungarians, like their Russian compatriots, equated radical art with radical politics. He continued for the rest of his life being involved in politics. He published short stories, plays and poems in Budapest and edited a periodical called A Tett which was anti-militarist and discussed socialist theories and avant-garde ideas. Under the influence of his brother-in-law Bela Uitz he executed his first ink drawings.
He died in Budapest on July 22, 1967.
Written and compiled by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.
Sources: Donna Stein in ARTnews, Summer 1994