DEMETER BALLA (4th May, 1931 – 5th November, 2017) was born in the environs of Szentes in the rural countryside of the Great Hungarian Plain. He attended school in Szentes and Kunszentmárton, two small towns in South-Eastern Hungary. On finishing his vocational studies in Budapest by graduating as an electricity technician he took up a job in the Ikarus bus factory in Budapest.
He began to take photographs in 1951. 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. Later in his life he devoted all his energy entirely to creative photography.
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 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 has frequently been commented upon and recognised in numerous writings and interviews published in major languages almost all over the world.
He was Member of many professional organizations. He founded the Demeter Award on 18th March, 1999 to reward 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 (2002) and László Haris (2003).
In 2012 he founded Látszótér Foundation to support the self-developing efforts of the community of amateur photographers.
MAJOR INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE EXHIBITIONS
Young Photographers’ Exhibition. Budapest, Hungary, 1960. Pécs, Hungary, 1961. Berlin, Leipzig, GDR, 1962.
Individual Exhibitions. Warsaw and other Polish towns, 1964. Teheran, Iran and Beyrouth, Lebanon, 1966.
Miskolc Scenery. Miskolc, Hungary, 1968.
Siberia. Irkutsk, The Soviet Union, 1970.
Portraits and Homes. Petőfi Museum of Literature, Budapest, Hungary, 1971. Balassagyarmat, Hungary, 1972. Balmazújváros, Debrecen, Hajdúszoboszló, Biharkeresztes, Hungary, 1973. Miskolc, Hungary, 1974.
Miskolc Today. Chamber exhibition, Miskolc, Hungary, 1975.
Public Property. Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 1976.
Photos of Small Sculptures by Jenő Kerényi. Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 1976
The Art of Eszter Mattioni. Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 1977.
In the Soviet Union. Association of Hungarian Journalists, Budapest, Hungary, 1978.
1978 On the Road. Szentes, Székesfehérvár, Hungary, 1978. Miskolc, Hungary, 1979.
Our town: Székesfehérvár. Székesfehérvár, Hungary, 1981.
The Anatomy of the Movement. Vigadó Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 1981. Collegium Hungaricum, Vienna, Austria, Nyíregyháza, Nagyatád, Hungary, 1982. Szekszárd, Visonta, Dunaföldvár, Hungary, Qvedlinburg and Halle, GDR, 1983. Bicske, Siófok and Celldömölk, Hungary, 1984. Sopron, Hungary, 1985. Nádudvar and Debrecen, Hungary, 1986.
The National Assembly. Exhibition in the Parliament, Budapest, Hungary, 1982. Debrecen, Hungary, 1984.
Thy Will Be Done. The Gallery of Photographic Art, Budapest, Hungary, 1988. Eger, Hungary, 1991.
Collected works. Kunszentmárton, Hungary, 1991.
Bagatelles. The French Cultural Institute, Budapest, Hungary, 1997. KÖRLÁNC Conference, Esztergom, Hungary, 1998. Kunszentmárton, Hungary, (Festival de l’image) Le Mans, France, 1999.
Nudes. Collective exhibition with 9 artists. Vigadó Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 1998.
János Pilinszky. London, UK, 2000.
2001 The Old One. Budapest Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 2001. Olomouc, Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic, MATÁV Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 2003.
Pictures of the Titanic. Canterbury Royal Museum, Canterbury, UK, 2004. Szentes, Várnegyed Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 2006. House of Ancestors, Taliándörögd, Hungary, 2007. Pintér Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 2013.
77 Pálya Street. Hungarian House of Photography, Budapest, Hungary, 2008.
Portaits of Artists. House of Ancestors, Taliándörögd, Hungary, 2009.
Balla 80. Répcelak, Petőfi Museum of Literature, Budapest, Kunszentmárton, Szeged, Hungary, 2011.
Faces and Homes. Betonút Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 2013.
Analogue – 21 Hungarian Photographers from the 20th Century, KOGART, Budapest, Hungary, 2013. Museum of Fine Arts, Timisoara, Romania, 2014.
Twoparts – László Mandur and Demeter Balla joint exhibition. Békásmegyer Evangelical Church, Budapest, Hungary, 2013.
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.
Newer Bagatelles (1962-2014). Artphoto Gallery, Hungary, 2014.
Pictures and Pixels. Kunsthalle, Budapest, Hungary, 2016.
Fragments. Balassi Institute, Budapest, Hungary, 2017. Chișinău, Moldova, 2017.
In stillness – Contemporary Hungarian Still Life. Kiscelli Museum, Budapest, 2018.
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
Just Photos: Demeter Balla. Városháza Publishing House, Budapest, 2018
INTERVIEWS IN THE WORLD PRESS
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)
VARIOUS PRIZES AND INTERNATIONAL AWARDS
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