Fortepan Masters is a photographic album, which includes the most remarkable images from the collection of Fortepan, the most significant modern Hungarian online photographic archive. Photographer Szabolcs Barakonyi who has been editing thematic selections of photographs from Fortepan’s compilation for years has embarked on selecting with a keen eye 330 that he regards as the best and most exciting from the collection of more than a hundred thousand images, in such a way that the internal nature of the photographs would freely unfold. His selection highlights the poetry in the pictures, their artistic value, the “fine art” so far hidden in this enormous archive. His principle of selection did not involve enforcing historical or thematic viewpoints, but finding outstanding photographs excelling in their beauty, purity, aesthetic significance, and sorting them without any thematic obligation. The end result is a subjective selection compiled with an expert’s eye. The book is a pioneering undertaking connected to the latest trends in photography: via the conception of private photography and online archives, it presents an exceptional collection of pre-digital photography.
The book is an original experiment whereby an international brand of photography is created on the basis of a so-called “crowdsourced” archive, a work of collective authors. It is as if the so-far hidden heritage of a formerly unknown photographer of international standing was presented to the world – yet the author is the collective self of several hundred, mostly non-professional photographers.
Fortepan Masters represents an opportunity by means of which Hungary can present itself on the international cultural market as never before. The 20th century photographs published in the book present the historical and cultural heritage of Hungarian society’s everyday life, as well as the roots of Hungarian photographic thinking which exists in private photography and is linked to world heritage.
Photographs by: Csaba Villányi and Péter Zalán Salát