Monday, November 2, 2009

Publication and Video: Laszlo Regos Photographed Dohany Synagogue in Budapest

Budapest, Hungary. Dohany Street Synagogue, ceiling detail. Photo: Courtesy of Laszlo Regos.

Publication and Video: Laszlo Regos Photographed Dohany Synagogue in Budapest
by Samuel D. Gruber

(ISJM) Anniversaries are the occasion for celebration, commemoration and publications. The 150th anniversary of the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest is no exception, and following last months celebrations, there is a new publication of ravishing photographs of the building by Hungarian-born American photographer Laszlo Regos.

The book, published by the Hungarian publisher Alexandra, was just presented in Hungary and I have not yet seen a copy, but Laszlo has posted a beautiful video presentation of many of the images, accompanied by a sound track of Kol Nidre sung by the late Sandor Kovacs, the chief cantor of the Dohany Street Synagogue. Regos is an accomplished commercial and architectural photographer based in Detroit, Michigan. His previous book The Opera House (Pecs: Alexandra, 2006) documented the Budapest Opera House, designed by Miklos Ybl, and opened in 1884. Regos also contributed many superb photographs of American synagogues to Synagogue Architecture in America by Henry Stolzman (Images Publishing, 2006)

Laslzo has been working on the Dohany book for as long as I have known him. He told me about his commitment to photographing the building, "I gave my soul. It took me eight years to do it." Because of his emotional attachment to the building he did not approach it "just as an architectural photographer," though his skill is evident in the photographs.

For more about Regos and his work you can see my review of his 2004 New York exhibition.

This is the second recent book about the Dohany Synagogue. Rudolph Klein published a book last year. For those interested in a deeper history of the Jewish and Budapest context in which the synagogue project was conceived and realized, and the vicissitudes of the building over its 150 years, I also recommend the essential work Jewish Budapest: Monuments, Rites, History, edited by Geza Komorockzy (Budapest: Central European University, 1999)

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