Francis De Erdely Biography

Francis De Erdely




Artist Francis de Erdely was born Erdelyi Ferenc in Budapest, Hungary, in 1904. Exposure to the atrocities of World War I as a youth informed the work he produced in his grade school years and beyond, which would later cost him his citizenship by the Gestapo. His formal art education, extensive and rooted in classical techniques and themes, began at the Royal Academy of Arts in Budapest from 1919 to 1924; he participated in his first exhibition in Budapest in 1925, where he won the Szinyei-Merse Grand Prize for his work. This was followed by courses at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Madrid), and at the Sorbonne and Ecole du Louvre in Paris, gaining a reputation as a figurative painter.

During this time, Fascism was rising in Europe and de Erdely's work began to evolve to reflect his concerns regarding war and the human condition, taking on a somber social realism. After being banned from Hungary, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1939. When he arrived in New York he found work as a portrait painter for wealthy patrons. This work continued through his move to Chicago, and it wasn't until he arrived in Los Angeles inb 1944 that he began to establish his own style, now leaning more toward Abstract and Cubist-influenced modernism. He would become known as one of the founders of the West Coast Modernism movement along with Sueo Serisawa, Richard Haines, and Bentlyey Schaad, among others. He continued to work with figures, capturing the daily lives of working class and immigrant people and often depicting the Mexican and African American populations that were frequently overlooked by mainstream artists. 

De Erdely served as Dean of the Pasadena Art Museum School for the year 1945, and became a faculty member at the University of Southern California the following year. He would remain there until his death in 1959.

De Erdely exhibited extensively across the U.S. and in Belgium and Australia. His work can be found in the collections of Brussels Moderns, Brussels, Belgium; the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; Colorado Springs Fine Arts, Colorado; Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, California; Denver Art Museum, Colorado; Detroit Institute of Fine Arts, Michigan; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Victoria, Melourne, Australia; Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah; Oakland Museum of Art, California; Pasadena Art Institute, California; Pennsylvania Academy of Arts Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Seattle Museum of Art, Washington; USC Fisher Gallery, California; Laguna Art Museum, California, among others.