Collection of photographs, drawings and correspondence relating to Peter Peri

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The photographs in this collection cover areas of Peri's work between 1920 and 1966. They include images of his early constructivist work, bronze figurines, cement sculptures and pictures of the artist at work. The drawings and sketches are mainly of people in a variety of simple poses, but are all undated. The correspondence refers to possible commissions for the London County Council, 1958 and an exhibition of his work at St. Pancras Public Library, 1963.

Administrative / Biographical History

Peter Peri was born in 1899 in Budapest and was originally named Laszlo Weisz. He left grammar school at 15 but attended evening classes in art. He was a strong supporter of the B ela Kun regime. When the regime fell, he was marked as a dangerous subversive and left to live in Paris in 1920. He was soon expelled from Paris for revolutionary activities, and moved to Berlin, where he became one of a group of Hungarian avant-garde artists. Peri became known as a leading constructivist, and in 1922 had his first exhibition of 'space constructions' with Moholy-Nagy. During the mid 1920s Peri gave up sculpture for architecture, but lack of success made him return to sculpture. At this time, Peri decided that he wanted to make art that reflected the life around him. His work took on a kind of realism within his strong sense of form and structure.

Between 1927 and 1933, he concentrated on small figures made of bronze. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Peri left Germany for England, with his second wife, British music student, Mary McNaughton. The bulk of his work was left behind and destroyed by the concierge of his flat. In London, Peri soon became a leading member of the Artists International Association. As bronze was too expensive, he began to use concrete as his medium. Peri used concrete for the rest of his life, as felt that concrete was not only aesthetic and practical, but reflected the political concerns of his work. Many of his sculptures commented on the human situation.

In 1938, he had an important one man show 'London Life in Concrete'. During the war Peri turned to making original prints, including lino-cuts, etchings, aquatints and engravings. From 1948, Peri continued with his small figurative works and received many commissions for outdoor sculptures. During this time Peri felt a need for a spiritual dimension to his life and became a Quaker. In 1966 he married his third wife, Heather Hall. Peter Peri died in 1967.

Arrangement

The fonds is arranged in the following series:

  • TGA 704/1 Photographs
  • TGA 704/2 Drawings
  • TGA 704/3 Correspondence

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Other Finding Aids

Paper list available

Alternative Form Available

Photographs, printed ephemera and some correspondence are available on microfiche. The fiche are stored under 'Peri', however the reference numbers do not always correspond.

Custodial History

Presented to Tate Archive by John Lloyd, executor of the Peri estate, in 1970.

Related Material

Transcripts of interviews with Cliff Rowe and Mary Peri, 1981 can be found in TGA 961.11-12.