Csaba Markus Tells His Artist Origin Story on the Behind the Artist Podcast
“Larger than life.” That’s how “Behind the Artist” host Morris Shapiro describes Csaba Markus.
Collectors always smile when Markus enters a room. With his trademark top hat and Dali-esque mustache, Markus definitely makes an impression on an audience—an impression that becomes even more unforgettable once they see his remarkable art.
A true student of the classics, Markus has spent decades teaching himself the ancient techniques of the Renaissance Masters, particularly Leonardo da Vinci. As a result, his artwork is a wonderful fusion of classical and modern influences. Today, he uses hi-tech methods to create his stirring portraits of mysterious women that would feel right at home hanging next to the “Mona Lisa” in the Louvre.
Recently, Markus joined Park West’s Morris Shapiro for an in-depth interview about his life and career for the “Behind the Artist” podcast. The resulting conversation covered so much detail—from Markus’ youth in Hungary to his growing reputation as an internationally acclaimed artist—that we’ve split their interview across two podcast episodes. You can find both episodes now on the Park West Podcast page or download the episodes on iTunes or Stitcher.
As a preview of their entertaining interview, enjoy these excerpts from their conversation:
Csaba Markus on his mission statement as an artist:
You should not be making good paintings. You should not be making great paintings. You should be making magic.
Csaba Markus on growing up in Hungary before the fall of the Soviet Union:
When I was in the Communist system, you were nobody. The individual is nothing. … I am the opposite. I like individualistic philosophy and thinking.
Csaba Markus on studying art as a child:
My teacher was really incredible. Every day, he read us fantastic classic art books. He had a big nose and I started drawing and made a cartoon about him… he caught two of my drawings… I was scared of what would happen. He said, “Give me your notification book.”
He started writing a note to my mom, and he was very, very concerned. Long, long writing. He said, “Take this message to your mom.” And I read it under the desk. It said, “Dear Mom, your son has an incredible talent for art. Please educate him.”
Csaba Markus on his connection to Renaissance artists:
The first time I went to Florence, I had a very weird feeling, because I’d read so many books about [Da Vinci], I felt at home. That was so strange.
Csaba Markus on his early days as a struggling artist in the United States:
I was painting for economic survival, so I painted whatever people wanted. That is the difference between commercial art and fine art. When you are making commercial art, you paint for other people’s needs. When you are painting fine art, you are painting for your needs—your spirit, your philosophy, your message.
Csaba Markus on his admiration for Leonardo da Vinci:
I did lots of research on how [Da Vinci] painted. And I cracked the secret. I know how he painted and what paint he used. Then I did more research and I proved to myself that I was right. So I think I am the only artist who paints with absolutely the same materials and the same technique as Leonardo da Vinci.
Csaba Markus on the importance of originality:
People respect you when you create. Not paint. Everybody can paint. Very few artists can really create. Don’t copy other people’s art. Don’t follow the leaders. It doesn’t take you anywhere.
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