Péter Korniss

Péter Korniss was born in Kolozsvár (today Cluj-Napoca, Romania) in 1937 and his family moved to Budapest in 1949. In 1955 he began his studies at the Faculty of Law at the Eötvös Lórand University, but he was expelled on account of his involvement in the 1956 Revolution. Following that he worked as an unskilled labourer at various places, he got a job at the Budapest Photography Co-operative until 1961. After acquiring his photographer’s diploma, from 1961 to 1991 he worked for the women’s weekly called Nők Lapja (Women’s Magazine), first as a photo reporter, later as the picture editor. In 1967 he started photographing in Transylvania, returning regularly for decades to preserve the traditional peasant culture and way of life, and to document the processes of change. In 1962 he began to photograph folk dancing with the Bihar Dance Ensemble, from 1975 to 2010 he was the photographer of the Honvéd Dance Theatre, and from 1981 to 2000 of the International Dance Theatre Company in Amsterdam. From 1977 he was a member of the World Press Photo jury for three years, and from 1983 he was voted onto the international advisory board of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund.

Selected Books

Heaven’s Bridegroom. Budapest: Corvina, 1975
Passing Times. Budapest: Corvina, 1979
Land of Red Cloud. Budapest: Corvina, 1982
Ősi karavánutak földjén. Budapest: Képzőművészeti Kiadó, 1985
The Guest Worker. Budapest: Mezőgazdasági Kiadó, 1988
Inventory Pictures from Transylvania. Budapest: Officina Nova-Kreatív Műhely, 1998
Nativity Players. Budapest: Helikon, 2006
Attachment. Budapest: Helikon, 2008

Selection of Solo Exhibitions

Kluuvi Gallery, Helsinki, Finland, 1972
Hall of Arts (Műcsarnok), Budapest, Hungary, 1974
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, USA, 1977
Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon-sur-Saône, France, 1980
Canon Photo Gallery, Amsterdam, Holland, 1983
Casa de la Cultura, Quito, Ecuador, 1985
Hall of Arts (The Guest Worker), Budapest, Hungary, 1988
Canon Photo Gallery, Amsterdam, Holland, 1989
Aspekte Galerie, Münchner Volkshochschule, Munich, Germany, 1990
Hall of Arts, (Műcsarnok), Budapest, Hungary, 1998
Muzeul Național al Țăranului Român, Bucharest, Romania, 1999
Staromestská radnice, Prague, Czech Republic, 1999
Istituto Cultural Cabanas, Guadalajara, Mexico, 1999
Kulturien Museo, Helsinki, Finland, 2000
Hovedbibliotek, Coppenhagen, Denmark, 2000
National History Museum of Latvia, Riga, Latvia, 2000
Estonian National Museum, Tartu, Estonia, 2000
M. Žilinskas Art Gallery, Kaunas, Lithuania, 2000
Galerie le Pont Neuf, Paris, France, 2001
Art Museum of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2010
Skotia Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, 2010
Galerie LS LandskronSchneidzik, Nuremberg, Germany, 2011
Várfok Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 2012
New Kriterion Gallery, Miecurea Cíuc, Romania, 2014
MODEM, Debrecen, Hungary, 2016


Balázs Béla Prize, 1974
Merited Artist Distinction, 1983
Prize for Hungarian Arts, 1995
Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, 1996
Kossuth Prize, 1999
Joseph Pulitzer Memorial Prize, 2004
Prima Primissima Prima Prize, 2004
Hungarian Heritage Prize, 2010
Kölcsey Memorial Plaque, 2013
Artist of the Nation Award, 2014

Works in Public Collections

Déri Museum, Debrecen, Hungary
Getty Research Center, Los Angeles, USA
Laczkó Dezső Museum, Veszprém, Hungary
Hungarian Museum of Photography, Kecskemét, Hungary
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
Musée Nicephore Niépce, Chalon-sur-Saône, France
National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, England