photo © László Mandur

photo © László Mandur (2013)

DEMETER BALLA was born in 1931, in the rural countryside of the Great Hungarian Plain, in the environs of Szentes, a small town in South-Eastern Hungary. He attended school in Szentes and Kunszentmárton. On finishing his vocational studies in Budapest by graduating as an electricity technician he took up a job in a factory in Budapest. In 1951 he began to take photographs. Developing his photographers` skills initially by self-education, his deep devotion to photography soon led him to visiting art and photo exhibitions – then to attending lectures and courses on the history, theory and practice of photography.

In 1954 Demeter Balla decided to become a professional photographer and obtained the diploma of a degree course in photography in 1957, and in the same year entered the services of the Capital’s Photo Company. His photographs brought him success, wide recognition, awards and prizes, which furthered his career. His work became a regular feature of newspapers, journals, magazines and later other products of prestigious publishers of fine art books and other albums. From 1969 onwards he was employed by the Newspaper Publishing Company, the largest organisation of its kind in Hungary and retired from his last formal employment at Adam magazine in 1988 – devoting his life entirely to creative photography since then.

His ouvre is characterised by rich artistic diversity including portraits, photojournalist work, still life, nudes, urban scenery, landscapes, etc. Demeter Balla is also recognised for his writings. His thoughts and poems were and are published in well known Hungarian newspapers (Népszabadság, Kurír) and magazines (Új Tükör, Élet és Irodalom, etc.) aimed at sophisticated intellectuals, while his drawings were regularly published by C·E·T (Central European Time) magazine. His ouvre is frequently commented upon and recognised in numerous writings and interviews published in major languages almost all over the world.

He is Member of many professional organizations. He founded the Demeter Award on the 18th March 1999. It is for those who altruistically do for the Hungarian art photography. The award was first given out to photomuseologist Károly Kincses, then director of the Hungarian Museum of Photography, on 4th May 2001. Further  Demeter Awards were given to Gyula Zaránd Gyula (2002), László Haris (2003).

 In 2012 he founded Látszótér Foundation to support the self-developing efforts of the community of amateur photographers.


1960 Young Photographers’ Exhibition. Budapest, Hungary
1961 Young Photographers’ Exhibition. Pécs, Hungary
1962 Young Photographers’ Exhibition. Berlin, Leipzig, GDR
1964 Individual Exhibitions. Warsaw and other Polish towns
1966 Individual Exhibitions. Teheran, Iran and Beyrouth, Lebanon
1968 Miskolc Scenery. Miskolc, Hungary
1970 Siberia. Irkutsk, The Soviet Union
1971 Portraits and Homes. Petőfi Museum of Literature, Budapest, Hungary
1972 Portraits and Homes. Balassagyarmat, Hungary
1973 Portraits and Homes. Balmazújváros, Hungary
1973 Portraits and Homes. Debrecen, Hungary
1973 Portraits and Homes. Hajdúszoboszló, Hungary
1973 Portraits and Homes. Biharkeresztes, Hungary
1974 Portraits and Homes. Miskolc, Hungary
1975 Miskolc Today. Chamber exhibition, Miskolc, Hungary
1976 Public Property. Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
1976 Photos of Small Sculptures by Jenő Kerényi. Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
1977 The Art of Eszter Mattioni. Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
1978 In the Soviet Union. Association of Hungarian Journalists, Budapest, Hungary
1978 On the Road. Szentes and Székesfehérvár, Hungary
1979 On the Road. Miskolc, Hungary
1981 Our town: Székesfehérvár. Székesfehérvár, Hungary
1981 The Anatomy of the Movement. Vigadó Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
1982 The Anatomy of the Movement. Collegium Hungaricum, Vienna, Austria
1982 The Anatomy of the Movement. Nyíregyháza and Nagyatád, Hungary
1982 The National Assembly. Exhibition in the Parliament, Budapest, Hungary
1983 The Anatomy of the Movement. Szekszárd, Visonta and Dunaföldvár, Hungary
1983 The Anatomy of the Movement. Qvedlinburg and Halle, GDR
1984 The National Assembly. Debrecen, Hungary
1984 The Anatomy of the Movement. Bicske, Siófok and Celldömölk, Hungary
1985 The Anatomy of the Movement. Sopron, Hungary
1986 The Anatomy of the Movement. Nádudvar and Debrecen, Hungary
1988 Thy Will Be Done. The Gallery of Photographic Art, Budapest, Hungary
1991 Thy Will Be Done. Eger, Hungary
1991 Collected works. Kunszentmárton, Hungary
1997 Bagatelles. The French Cultural Institute, Budapest, Hungary
1998 Bagatelles. KÖRLÁNC Conference, Esztergom, Hungary
1998 Nudes. Collective exhibition with 9 artists. Vigadó Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
1999 Bagatelles. Kunszentmárton, Hungary
1999 Bagatelles. (Festival de l’image) Le Mans, France
2000 János Pilinszky. London, UK
2001 The Old One. Budapest Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
2003 The Old One. Olomouc, Czeh Republic
2003 The Old One. Prague, Czeh Republic
2003 The Old One. MATÁV Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
2004 Pictures of the Titanic. Canterbury Royal Museum, Canterbury, UK
2006 Pictures of the Titanic. Szentes, Hungary
2006 Pictures of the Titanic. Várnegyed Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
2007 Pictures of the Titanic. House of Ancestors, Taliándörögd, Hungary
2008 77 Pálya Street.  Hungarian House of Photography, Budapest, Hungary
2009 Portaits of Artists. House of Ancestors, Taliándörögd, Hungary
2011 Balla 80. Répcelak, Hungary
2011 Balla 80. Petőfi Museum of Literature, Budapest, Hungary
2011 Balla 80. Kunszentmárton, Hungary
2011 Balla 80. Szeged, Hungary
2013 Faces and Homes. Betonút Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
2013 Pictures of the Titanic. Pintér Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
2013 Analogue – 21 Hungarian Photographers from the 20th Century, KOGART, Budapest, Hungary
2013 Twoparts – László Mandur and Demeter Balla joint exhibition. Békásmegyer Evangelical Church, Budapest, Hungary
2014 Parts – László Mandur and Demeter Balla joint exhibition. Próféta Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
2014 The Photo Reporter – Pictures by Demeter Balla. Cultiris Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
2014 Analogue – 21 Hungarian Photographers from the 20th Century, Museum of Fine Arts, Timisoara, Romania
2014 Newer Bagatelles (1962-2014). Artphoto Gallery, Hungary
2016 Pictures and Pixels. Kunsthalle, Budapest, Hungary
2017 Fragments. Balassi Institute, Budapest, Hungary


Szép versek. Magvető Publishing House, Budapest, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975
The Buda Castle. Corvina Publishing House, Budapest, 1970
Balla Demeter: Fiatal Magyarország. Corvina Publishing House, Budapest, 1970
Jean Cassou – Kovács Péter: Vilt Tibor, a szobrász. Corvina Publishing House, Budapest, 1972
Beke László: Schaár Erzsébet. Corvina Publishing House, Budapest, 1972
Balla Demeter: Balaton. Corvina Publishing House, Budapest, 1974
Schaár Erzsébet – Pilinszky János: Tér és kapcsolat. Magvetô Publishing House, Budapest, 1975
Balla Demeter: Miskolc. Corvina Publishing House, Budapest, 1977, 1978
Sík Csaba: Vilt Tibor. Corvina Publishing House, Budapest, 1979
Balla Demeter: Gorka Lívia. Corvina Publishing House, Budapest, 1979
Balla Demeter: Székesfehérvár. Corvina Publishing House, Budapest, 1982
Balla Demeter: Thy Will Be Done. Pelikán Publishing House, Budapest, 1994
Balla Demeter: Pictures of the Titanic. Ab Ovo Publishing House, Budapest, 2004
Colin Ford, Kincses Károly: Analogue – 21 Hungarian Photographers from the 20th Century, Körmendi Publishing House, Budapest, 2013


1957 Sovyetskoye Foto (USSR)
1964 The British Journal of Photography (UK)
1964 Stern (Germany)
1966 Camera (Switzerland)
1969 Evergreen (USA)
1969 Cinéma (France)
1969 Sovyetskoye Foto (USSR)
1972 Pravda (USSR)
1972 Fotoreportyer (USSR)
1972 Sovyetskoye Foto (USSR)
1990 Czechoslovak Photography (Czechoslovakia)


1957 Award of the World Youth Meeting
1964 EFIAP Award
1973 Pravda Award
1977 Béla Balázs Award
1987 Merited Artist
2001 Association of Hungarian Artist-Photographers Lifetime Achievement Award
2001 Honorary Citizenship of Kunszentmárton
2003 Award for the Hungarian Art
2004 Kossuth Prize
2013 Golden Pen Lifetime Achievement Award
2014 Artist of the Nation Award