Peter Laszlo Peri

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Peter Laszlo Peri (13 June 1899 – 19 January 1967) was an artist and sculptor.[1]

Name changes[edit]

László Weisz was born on 13 June 1899 in Budapest, Hungary. His family Magyarized their family name to "Péri". When he moved to Germany, he was known as Laszlo Péri. After he moved to England, he adopted the name "Peter Peri". His grandson, an artist born in 1971, also has the name Peter Peri.


Born in 1899, in Budapest into a large, proletarian Jewish family Peri became politicised at an early age. In 1919, he finished an apprenticeship as a bricklayer, and became a student at the workshops for proletariat fine arts in 1919. He was in contact with Lajos Kassák and the Activists. In 1917, he began his career as an actor at the MA Theater School, studying with János Mácsza. As part of a theatre company he went to Prague where he heard about the fall of the Republic of Councils. He studied architecture in 1919–20 in Budapest and Berlin. He lived for a short time in Paris in 1920, in the house of a socialist baker, before being forced to leave the country due to his political activities.

Peri moved to Vienna, then on to Berlin in 1921, where he created his first abstract geometric reliefs. In February 1922, he had the first of two joint exhibitions with Moholy-Nagy at Der Sturm Gallery, Berlin. In 1923, his portfolio containing twelve linocuts was published by Der Sturm Verlag. His contributions to constructivism at the time were to challenge the surface of the wall by producing irregularly shaped wall reliefs and to open up new planes, anticipating the shaped canvas created after 1945[2] ; the discovery of concrete as a potential sculptural medium, colouring it if necessary, and the appreciation of the hard contour as a visual device, as seen in his collages and linoprints. These could be used to create a visual medium hovering between the relief and architecture; whereas Moholy-Nagy's Glasarchitektur achieved this using paint and canvas, Péri used less conventional media.

At the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung in May 1923, between the contributions of Van Doesburg and El Lissitzky’s ‘Proun Room’ he showed his three-piece 7 m (23 ft)x17 m (56 ft) composition which, while it may also have been executed in paint on wood, had pretensions to be executed in concrete. Peri, joined the German Communist Party (KPD) in 1923. His 1924, constructivist design for a Lenin tribute for the German art exhibition in Moscow, marked the end of his investigations into the non-objective.

That same year Peri began to work for the Berlin municipal architectural office and was there from 1924 to 1928. Probably motivated by a vision to put his productivist values into action, but frustrated he quit the job in 1928. In 1928, he signed the manifesto and statutes of the Association of Revolutionary Visual Artists of Germany (Assoziation Revolutionärer Bildener Künstler Deutschlands) (ARBKD) (ASSO) which, like other new and militant Communist art organisations, called for a reinvigoration of the idea of "proletarian culture" and suitably positive images of working-class life and culture. He was also a member of Die Abstrakten (The Abstracts) and Rote Gruppe (Red Group). In 1929, he returned to representational painting and sculpture.

Peri immigrated to England in 1933, after his wife Mary Macnaghten granddaughter of social reformer Charles Booth was arrested in possession of Communist propaganda. In 1934, Peri contributed "several forceful works in coloured concrete" to the AIA (Artists’ International Association) exhibition The Social Scene. He made contact with John Heartfield. In England, he lived first in Ladbroke Grove, then in Hampstead; in 1938, he moved to a studio in Camden Town where he worked until 1966. While in Hampstead, Peri joined the recently founded English section of the Artists International (later to be known as Artists International Association), an association composed largely of commercial artists and designers whose declared intention was to mobilise "the international unity of artists against Imperialist War on the Soviet Union, Fascism and Colonial oppression".[citation needed] In July 1938, he had a solo exhibition London Life in Concrete in an empty building at 36 Soho Square. In 1939, he became a British citizen and took the name "Peter Peri". In November 1948, he held a solo show Peri's People at the AIA Gallery. Late in the 1940s he did a series of commissions for the London County Council. In 1951, Peri produced a sculptural group The Sunbathers for the Festival of Britain.[3] Commissions from Stuart Mason, Director of Education for Leicestershire included Two Children Calling A Dog, Scraptoft, c. 1956; Atom Boy, and Birstall, 1960.

When the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum opened in 1960, Peri was commissioned to "represent the life and activities [of Coventry] in modern terms and materials"; the work is known simply as The Coventry Sculpture[4]

Peri joined the Quaker faith and produced a small bronze sculpture of a Quaker Meeting, much loved by the students of Woodbrooke Study Centre,[5] Birmingham, where it is now located.[6]

Peter Peri died on 19 January 1967.

Major works after 1945[edit]

Works in permanent collections[edit]

MOMA, New York

Centre Pompidou, Paris

Berardo Collection, Lisbon

Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg

Kunstmuseum Bochum, Bochum

Holocaust Museum, Tel Aviv

Museum fur angewandte kunst, Cologne

Museum de Grenoble, Grenoble


  • 1922 Moholy-Nagy / Peri Der Sturm, Berlin
  • 1923 Moholy-Nagy / Peri Der Sturm, Berlin
  • 1924 Peri / Hilbersheimer / Nell Walden Der Sturm, Berlin
  • 1931 Ernst Múzeum Budapest (with N. Ferenczy, L. Herman, K. Istokovics, M. Lehel).[13]
  • 1933 Bloomsbury Galleries London
  • 1936 From Constructivism to Realism Foyle Art Gallery
  • 1937 Gordon Fraser's Gallery Cambridge
  • 1938 London Life in Concrete Soho Square, London
  • 1948 People by Peri A.I.A. Gallery, London
  • 1952 Sculpture in Relation to Architecture A.A. Bedford Square, London
  • 1953 Exhibition arranged by the Football Association sponsored by the Arts Council
  • 1958 Pilgrim's Progress St George's Gallery, London
  • 1960 Sculpture and Etchings Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry
  • 1961 Trades Union's Festival Exhibition, Bethnal Green
  • 1963 St Pancras Arts Festival
  • 1966 It's the People who Matter Lloyd's Gallery, Wimbledon
  • 1967 Avant-garde Osteuropa 1910–1930 Academy of Arts, Berlin
  • 1968 Peter Peri 1899–1967 Central Library Swiss Cottage, London
  • 1970 Peri's People The Minories, Colchester
  • 1973 Laszlo Peri. Werke 1920–1924 und das Problem des Shaped Canvas, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne
  • 1982 Laszlo Peri 1899–1967. Arbeiten in Beton, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin
  • 1987 László Moholy-Nagy / Laszlo Peri, Graphisches Kabinett, Bremen
  • 2008 Peter Peri Exhibition, Sam Scorer Gallery, Lincoln.

External links[edit]

  • Permanent online exhibition at Sam Scorer Gallery
  • Grove Art article Laszlo [Peter] Peri
  • Chris Miller's "I Love Sculpture" website containing an illustration of Peri's sculpture "Sunbathing", with male and female figures horizontal to a wall, with an audience enjoying it. (Accessed 24 February 2008).
  • Designing Britain article on the Festival of Britain
    • Illustration – "Sunbathing": maquette in Leeds Museums & Galleries (Accessed 24 February 2008).
  • Art for Social Spaces article on Schools
    • Illustration : "Two children calling a dog", c. 1956, sculpture by Peter Peri, was commissioned for Scraptoft Willowbrook Infants School in Leicestershire. Current Repository: Public Monuments & Sculpture Association]. (Accessed 24 February 2008).
    • Illustration 'Bank Holiday' (c. 1937) is one of a series of large coloured concrete wall reliefs made by Peter Peri in the 1930s. Current Repository Leeds Museums & Galleries] (Accessed 24 February 2008).
    • Illustration: One of Peter Peri's three relief concrete panels of 'Children Playing', c. 1955, for Langmoor County Primary School in Oadby, Leicestershire. c1956 Current Repository Public Monuments & Sculpture Association.](Accessed 24 February 2008).
    • Illustration: Peter Peri's 'horizontal-relief'in concrete – 'Man's Mastery of the Atom' – projects from the wall of Longslade Community College, Leicestershire, completed 1960. Current Repository Public Monuments & Sculpture Association]. (Accessed 24 February 2008).
    • Illustration: Peter Peri's concrete 'horizontal-relief' – 'The Spirit of Technology' – juts out from the exterior wall of a building at Loughborough University. Current Repository Public Monuments & Sculpture Association]. (Accessed 24 February 2008).
    • Illustration: Description In 1956, Peter Peri made 'Folk Dancing'- a yellow concrete relief – for the exterior wall of Scraptoft Valley Primary and Infants School, Nether Hall, Leicestershire. Another exterior relief – 'Jack and Jill' – and a relief for the interior of the school – 'Oranges and lemons' – were also commissioned in the early stages of the building project. Current Repository Public Monuments & Sculpture Association]. (Accessed 24 February 2008).
  • VADS: Visual Arts Data Service <SEARCH> "Peri" –
    • "Figure of Evangelist" Date Completion 1961 Description Angular elongated figure in a short robe or dress, standing out from the church wall, to which it is attached by the feet. Its arms and legs are bent and the left hand holds a book aloft. Location Forest Gate, Greater London Measurements Dimensions Figure (410 cm high approx x 230 cm wide approx) Material Concrete
    • "Figure" 1964 Description Figure of a man with right arm held high above his head. The man is leaning forward away from the supporting wall. Location East Ham, Greater London Measurements Dimensions Figure (330 cm high approx x 200 cm wide approx x 100 cm deep approx) Material Moulded concrete?
    • "Relief of playing children – a memorial to the children who died in the blitz" on Darley House on a housing estate in Lambeth.Collection Courtauld Institute of Art
    • "The Spirit of Technology" 1957 Description A male figure, naked but for a suggestion of drapery across his genitals, standing on the vertical surface of an exterior wall. His hands, raised above his head, hold a loop or coil suspended between them. Location Loughborough, Leicestershire Measurements Dimensions sculpture(h. 304 cm (est)) Material concrete
    • "St Michael and Dancing Figures" c. 1956 Collection Public Sculpture of Leicestershire Description A large exterior wall relief by Peter Peri, 'St Michael and Dancing Figures, executed for a school in Coventry.


  1. ^ ODNB article by Gillian Whiteley, "Peri, Peter Laszlo (1899–1967)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [1], (accessed 11 Feb 2008)
  2. ^
  3. ^ The sculpture was rediscovered in 2017: Guardian Friday 21 April 2017 "Naked ambition: £15,000 appeal to revive nude sunbather statues" by Mark Brown "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-05-29. Retrieved 2017-05-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Coventry Gallery's Help for Local Artists, The Times, 9 March 1960
  5. ^ Woodbrooke Quaker Centre website
  6. ^ Quaker Meeting sculpture on Flickr (accessed 23 February 2008).
  7. ^ a b Exhibition catalogue of a memorial exhibition: sculptures and graphic work at Swiss Cottage Library, London 8–21 May 1968, with an introductory essay by John Berger. Biographical notes, List of major works carried out [1946–1965] and of exhibitions and catalogue by P.H. Hulton and extracts from his writings and others' writings about him. 15 pages.
  8. ^ Longslade Community College uses Peter Peri's sculpture as its logo (accessed 23 February 2008).
  9. ^ Illustration of Peter Peri's sculpture at University of Exeter: "Man of the World". (Accessed 24 February 2008)
  10. ^ The Tate currently lists:"Mr Collins from the A.R.P." 1940 Pigmented concrete object: 675 x 680 x 400 mm relief. Purchased 1988 (on display at the Tate Modern) and two other works at Tale Catalogue but not the bronze horse listed in the 1967 exhibition catalogue.
  11. ^ Peri's "Coventry Sculpture" is referred to as a masterpiece on the Museum's website.[permanent dead link] (accessed 24 February 2008).
  12. ^ Hungarian National Gallery website. (accessed 24 February 2008)
  13. ^ Ernst Museum Budapest website (accessed 24 February 2008).