The Surrealism Website
Judit Reigl (1923 - )

Judit Reigl was born in Kapuvár, Hungary. After studying painting at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, between 1941 and 1946, where she was the student of the celebrated painter István Szonyi, she traveled to Italy with a study grant from the Hungarian Academy in Rome, where she encountered Byzantine icons, the mosaics of Ravenna, the works of Giotto and Masaccio and the paintings of Venice's Giorgione and Titian amongst others. In October 1948, she returned to Hungary, which had been overtaken by a communist authoritarian regime. Determined to leave and after seven failed attempts, Reigl successfully crossed the Iron Curtain in March 1950 and a few months later arrived in Paris. Her earliest Parisian works, indebted to the imagery of Surrealism, include photo-collages as well as paintings of monstrous figures and vividly coloured phantasmagorical scenes, as in her best known work of this period They Have an Insatiable Thirst for Infinity. From 1952 for a few years, she then started to experiment with abstract surrealism.
In 1954 André Breton offered her a solo exhibition at L'étoile scellée, the gallery of the Parisian Surrealist group, and she there exhibited her figurative and abstract works.
After the exhibition, she broke off with Breton and adopted a purely abstract and vigorously physical approach to painting, drawing on the then emerging abstract expressionism. She threw pigment and linseed oil at canvases and then molded this with various metal devices into expressive marks, also using her body as an instrument of painting. She is now best known for these abstract expressionist works rather than for her short-lived period of figurative surrealism