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Andre Kalman

tennis player

Nickname: Bondy
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Bio He did coach tennis in Manchester in the late forties to fifties.

Excerpt from Gábor Ébli's book entitled "National museums and civic patrons":

"András Kálmán was born into a middle-class family in Mátészalka, a town in Eastern Hungary, in 1919. His father was a pharmacist, who initially thought of making András his successor in the business. Yet as many as three of András’ cousins went to study and work abroad (Vienna, Paris, London), and their example was deemed proper to be followed by András, too. His two brothers were to stay in Hungary, and to take over the pharmacy. Having completed high school, András first went to Budapest. His mother played tennis well, and András had from his early childhood on assisted at the local tennis court next to Szunyogh Hotel. He soon learned the game, perfected his play, and came to win the national championship at high school. Thus, the electric bulbs producer giant Egyesült Izzó offered him a job in Budapest upon leaving school. He had to represent the company in various matters, and, primarily, continue playing tennis. Alas, this happy stage of his life lasted only a few months, as his mother mistrusted this all-too-free metropolitan lifestyle.
Also, anti-Semitic legislation – introduced in Hungary stepwise from 1938 – prompted the family not to wait longer, and send András indeed abroad. In autumn 1939, he relocated to Leeds, and began studying chemistry. As it later turned out, this saved his life. All his family perished in the deportations in 1944. András returned to Hungary in 1948 for a few months, yet built up his life in England.

From 1943, he worked in the laboratory of a leather factory in Manchester. The job was secure, but he did not like it. He was longing for something more creative, intellectually challenging. When Midday Studios, the only modern art gallery of the city closed down in 1949, he found that his time had arrived. At 35 South King Street, he rented a former air raid shelter for two pounds a week, and opened his gallery there. By contacting acknowledged British artists – such as Augustus John, Matthew Smith and Ivon Hitchens, all of whom responded readily – he was in a position to show good works as soon as at the first vernissage. Only, not a single visitor came to the opening. Next was a Henry Moore show, again with no success. Finally, Kálmán sold his first piece, for eighteen pounds, of which a third was his commission. For the first two or three years, Kálmán lived in fact on tennis lessons, and on the few artworks sold to his tennis partners. Then, although he himself still sold very few works from his shows, some of his exhibitions were taken over by bigger galleries in London, such as Gimpel Fils (1952). In London, many of the works sold quickly. This made Kálmán realise that he had to relocate to the capital if he wanted his business to pick up momentum.

While living in Manchester, he had regularly visited the capital – mainly to play tennis. For seven years, he played at Wimbledon, and stayed at emigré Czech friends in Kensington. Also, he bought picture frames here for his shop in Manchester. In summer 1956, he decided to rent what was to become his gallery until today, on Brompton Road. For a while, he carried on operating his location in Manchester, too, but soon moved business and family entirely to London."
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