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Meet the Makk Family

A Biographical Sketch of the Makk Family:

Since the Renaissance, the world has been the inheritor of a priceless art legacy beginning with da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rembrandt and carrying through to Turner, Manet, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Renoir. In our own time, a family unique in all art history is adding to that legacy.

The background of the Makk Family, Eva, Americo and A.B., was a propitious setting for their emergence as artists who have enlarged the scope of the masters while perpetuating their tradition of art raised to its highest level. It was in the intellectually fertile milieu of Hungary’s cultural excellence that the seeds were sown for this unusual family’s greatness.

 Americo (Imre) Makk was born into a cultured family in Pannonhalma (Gyor), Hungary, where his father was a highly respected executive of the Benedictine Abbey which was founded over a thousand years ago.

Americo received his early education from the monks at the Saint Benedict High School who recognized early on that his artistic efforts were far above ordinary and showed great promise. His teachers saw that the young Americo was different from most youngsters in that his insight was more penetrating and he possessed a keen sensitivity. After high school, he enrolled in the Hungarian National Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. There he flourished and astonished his professors with a perception that caused them to call him colleague- an honor rarely bestowed upon a student.

Under excellent tutelage, his form and technique soon equated with his inspiration and sensitivity until at the age of only 21, he was rewarded for his outstanding talent and achievements with an Italian scholarship. For Americo Italy was the perfect place to be, there he saw first-hand the works of the Renaissance Masters and reveled in the glories of ecclesiastical art. He studied the techniques and style of form and color of Raphael, Michelangelo, da Vinci and others who, in their time, had revolutionized fine art and extended a new dimension to painting with their chiaroscuro effects. He was fascinated by Rembrandt’s feeling of space through deft manipulation of light and shadow, painting which is not only beautiful but, in fact, possesses and extraordinary dimension.

Americo’s paintings today are the rich inheritors of those long ago impressions superimposed upon and woven within a rare talent. It was in the Eternal City that he painted the portrait of Cardinal Mindszenty, which still hangs in the Vatican. He met his future wife, Eva, at the Academy in Rome where her studies paralleled his. From that point on, it is impossible to extricate his biography from hers since, perhaps in all of history, there has never been a couple whose lives, genius and productivity are so wholly and sublimely intertwined, and whose influence on art has been felt in virtually all of the Free World.

Eva’s parents were of a noble Hungarian family and at the time of her birth in Ethiopia, her landowner father was advisor to Emperor Haile Selassie. He and his wife nurtured the brightness of their baby daughter who showed a precocious artistic talent and inquisitiveness early on that was far beyond her years. As a toddler, she would place her tiny hands into her parents large ones and they would to for a walk which may have been a distance of only a few feet. But in that short space, they would show her one single blade of grass and explain how it came to be or they would call her attention to a tiny insect and point out its beautiful color, the number of legs it had, how it did not stand erect as people do. Or they might describe the purpose of a big, fluffy cloud in the scheme of the universe. Her powers of observation were thus honed from infancy so that she not only saw a thing’s outside appearance, but she learned to perceive it through all her senses.

At four years of age, she was drawing what she felt. When she depicted a scene, It contained an essence of the noble and pure that exists in all life when perceived with a deep reverence and sensitivity. That a four-year-old child comprehended and was able to express this deep truth indicated a genius that needed delicate and careful cultivation. Her unusual childhood gave her the unique opportunity to absorb life, as very few others are able to do. For example, no month passed without her being bounced on the knees of an emperor in an exotic royal court. And her parent’s plantations and their excursions to other parts of the world were often the scenes of delicate and high-powered business dealings with African tribal chiefs or world leaders. Eva was never excluded from these meetings; in fact, it was her wish to be present.

Eva mastered several native languages from contact with diverse servants and plantation workers so that at the age of five, she was sometimes able to act as interpreter and go-between for her parents and African leaders. In this varied and personal way, her parents opened up her views to every facet of life. From birth, her consciousness absorbed the teaching of her mother: that one must aspire always to celebrate and respect, to ennoble and to develop one’s highest concepts. She received formal education in private schools in several countries of Africa as well as from tutors throughout her childhood.

When unrest became prevalent in Africa, the family moved to France where Eva enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris. After completing her studies summa cum laude, they moved to Rome where she enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts; there she met Americo. When Dr. Holusa, her father, resolved to leave war-scarred Europe for South America, Americo joined the family.  Americo and Eva were marred in Brazil. With their marriage, Eva and Americo Makk became a unified entity; their lives, their growth as artists, their recognition throughout the world, the birth of their son and his maturity as an artist, their exhibitions, their successes, their acclaim, have been, and still are, inextricably woven into a rich tapestry of harmonious accomplishments.

A. B. Makk picked up with ease, the rhythm of this unusual and extraordinary family of artists. The team expanded and became a triumvirate! Born in Sao Paulo at the beginning of his parent’s careers in art, A. B. (short for Americo Bartholomew) took up brush and palette as normally as other children reach for ice cream cones - with enjoyment and pleasure. He absorbed his parent’s techniques, developed a blend of his own and now works in his own unique genre.

A. B. starts with colors where Manet and Renoir left off, he blends color after color in combinations that historically have not been used together to create a sun-drenched warmth on a cool day or, conversely, to insinuate wafts of cool air on a hot day. His manipulation of light to express beauty and dignity; his ability to paint a complex and many-faceted feeling as opposed to a merely beautiful scene; his sense of depth and serenity; these are the qualities that put A. B. in the same class with his illustrious parents.

As had been the case with each of his parents before him, it was obvious right from the start that A. B. had unusual talent. He was exhibiting at the age of four at the insistence of his patron and first collector, Don Jose Tupinamba de Frotas, a Bishop of Ceara. The Brazilian press reviewed these young works and wrote enthusiastically about the Little Picasso.  A. B. was, of course, surrounded by the magical world of his parent’s artistic life but there was much more than that. His childhood contained all sorts of situations that undoubtedly were impressed upon his young mind and evidence themselves today in his extraordinary painting style.

A. B. often spent hours, even whole days, on scaffolds when his parents were painting ceilings and murals. With his parents, he spent a year researching the Indians of the Amazon jungle when he was only seven and there experienced a primitive world filled with peril. He spoke Hungarian and Portuguese equally well as soon as he started speaking and his childhood pet was not the usual dog or cat, but an ocelot. This potpourri of the exotic, the splendid, the primitive and the rare was superimposed on A. B’s legacy and consciousness while in the constant company of loving grandparents and as his parents were rapidly becoming recognized as two of the world’s most brilliant artists. This background demanded a future with limitless horizons and, combined with other factors, contributed to the family’s decision to return to the hemisphere of their heritage.

Within the first year in New York, A. B. was enrolled in formal studies while Eva and Americo were awarded the prestigious American Ecclesiastical Award for the murals they painted in churches in Dayton, Ohio, and Cornwall, New York. In their second year, they exhibited their original oils at the New York World’s Fair in the same showing with Michelangelo’s renowned and glorious Pieta. Succeeding years were filled with activities and honors that came in rapid succession to these two artists who lived entirely for art. They exhibited under the sponsorship of the United Nations and at the Carnegie International Center by special invitation, interviews were granted for local news media, for network television, for radio and feature articles in national and international publications. Gold medals were awarded for excellence to both Americo and Eva from Italy, Monaco and various organizations in the United States to be added to those already earned in South America. Exhibitions of their work were held in Europe, South America and most of the United States.

In December 1967, the Makk Family left New York for Hawaii to find a heavenly climate and clear bright light that prevails throughout the year. Their home and studio in Honolulu are on a ridge overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean. It was from this home that A. B. was graduated from the University of Hawaii, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. Since 1976, he has exhibited regularly with his parents.

Being so far removed from the traditional centers of art has affected the Makk’s creativity in a positive way, adding freshness and luster to their work. Since making the move to Hawaii, they have held exhibitions in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Caracas in South America; in Madrid, Munich, Monte Carlo, Paris, Lisbon, Vienna and Geneva in Europe; in Vancouver and Montreal in Canada and in more than half of the United States.

They presented a Makk Family Retrospective in the Russell Senate Rotunda in Washington, D.C., in 1984 to honor the Silver jubilee of Hawaii’s statehood. For this auspicious occasion, they were awarded the flag that flew over the Capitol on the day their exhibit opened. The same year, they were selected as designers of the state coin to commemorate Hawaiian statehood. They have won over a hundred gold medals, awards of merit, citations and diplomas from academies and institutes in Rome, Paris, Monaco and London as well as the United States and South America.

Four presidential portraits by Americo and Eva Makk hang in the White House and the Makk Family has been honored in the Oval Office in special ceremonies for the presentation of Americo’s portrait of President Reagan. Other portraits they have painted hang in foreign palaces, at the Grand Ol’ Opry, in corporate boardrooms and private homes all over America and Abroad. Their biographies appear in every major volume of Who’s Who and other Dictionaries of Profiles in Rome, London, America and India.

It would seem that the Makk's are at their zenith. But, on the contrary, they are just beginning some of the most thrilling undertakings of their careers. In 1985, for example, Eva, Americo and A. B. undertook and extraordinary task in creating two singular works of art. The three painted together, incorporating their individual talents, to produce two large, luminous canvases. The first, Trilogy, is a sun-drenched, gleaming rendering of New York’s Central Park; it sold within fifteen minutes of its unveiling. "Spirit of Paris," the second one, brings into focus the colors, the very heart and soul of the City of Paris, through a creative force that contained three talents, three inspirations and three different, hearts and souls, all culminating in one masterpiece. The painting flows as one, each artist’s portion blending into the others but, upon close scrutiny, it can definitely be seen as three distinct works of art. Each section is, in reality, a prototype of its creator’s style of painting.

After all their accomplishments and acclaim, the Makks, individually and together,  feel they have just gotten into their stride and their minds and hearts are bursting with enthusiasm and creative plans. They recently finished painting a series of large murals on canvas of the one-thousand-year history of Hungary and an upcoming project is to do the same for the history of America, from the Mayflower to the present. They are also returning with fresh vigor to one of their favorite themes, religious murals of sacred events.  

Being the consummate artists they are, the Makks are creating by hand, original serigraphs in a separate studio / workroom amongst the lush tropical foliage of Windward Oahu Hawaii.  As you would expect, they are receiving award after prestigious award for the excellence of their creations. 

Obviously, the Makk Family has not yet reached its peak; they are still ascending, still striving for growth and perfection. “We paint all the passions, sorrows, elations. Not just what nature reveals to the eye, but what nature encompasses, the whole being of man. As fleeting as the moment and as eternal as the soul. This is the miracle of life and when we succeed, it is the miracle of art.” So says Eva as she speaks with the voice of the Makk Family.

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