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Only in Budapest: Special Hidden Mini-Statues Are The Coolest Street Art Creations

I will now introduce a unique program in Budapest: discover with me the hidden mini-statues of the city.

Budapest is full of tiny bronze or stone statues. These mini-hidden sculptures appear in unexpected places and times. For example, wandering in Budapest close to Elizabeth Square, you can spot Mr. Bean's teddy bear, adorning the wall of the building once used as the British Embassy. Or if you look carefully at the details of the fence of Liberty Square (Szabadság tér), you might find a small bronze sculpture of Kermit the Frog from the Muppet Show.

Today, these mini-statues are among the sights of Budapest. Their creator, Mihaly Kolodko Ukrainian-Hungarian sculptor, has placed more than twenty tiny guerilla sculptures in various public places in the city in a few years. His mini statues keep popping up throughout Budapest, so I’m on the lookout for the next exciting installations. Let's see a few of them!

What are they? Why were they created? I have written briefly about the history of the sculptures.

Kermit, The Frog From Muppet Show

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Liberty Square (Szabadság tér), Budapest

Street Art

The artworks of sculptor Mihály Kolodko can be classified as street art, a typically big city genre with countless forms of expression and appearance, from wall drawings to stickers and posters. Although the majority of the street artworks are murals, not only those can be considered street artworks, but also quotes or slogans painted on sidewalks, installations crocheted on the trunks of trees, and guerilla sculptures of all sizes.

Street art pieces are often made only for the moment, just like graffiti, but some pieces can be seen for a long time.

Mihaly Kolodko

The artist behind the imaginative statues comes from Ukraine. He was born in 1978 in Uzhgorod and he graduated from Lviv Academy of Arts in 2002 as a sculptor.

During his studies, he worked in group and ‘plein air’ (out-of-doors) projects in Ukraine and abroad. The essence of plein air is natural light, natural lighting, and outdoor work.

In addition to the genre and monumental sculpture, Kolodko began displaying miniature figures in public spaces, first in his hometown, Uzhgorod, in 2010. In the Transcarpathian city you can see, among others, the mini-sculpture of Franz Liszt, Andy Warhol, Jon Lord, Santa Claus and tsar Peter the Great of Russia and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, furthermore a miniature Eiffel Tower and a plus-size Statue of Liberty of the USA.

The artist felt that the form allowed him to depict ideas quickly and conveniently and it also makes it much easier to clandestinely install them.

In 2017 Kolodko moved to Budapest and continued manufacturing the tiny statues in Hungary. His artistry is called guerrilla art as the sculptures were placed in public spaces without official permission first. However, since then, some of the statues have already been created as commissioned art.

You can stumble upon the works of Mihály Kolodko elsewhere, in Hungary, among others, in Vác, Veszprém. And you can find some of his mini statues abroad, for example, a tiny Albert Einstein sitting on a bench at the Princeton University Campus, Alfred Nobel’s mini sculpture in Stockholm, a small Casanova statue in Venice, and a drunk Roman legionnaire in Pula.

It took time to accept the mini-sculptures in both Ungvár and Budapest, but now these two cities would be unimaginable without them. The small hidden figures on the streets of Budapest have become so popular that a few of them were even stolen.

Some sculptures are simply to entertain those that find them, others recall historical moments or tribute to famous personalities. Once you find a statue, you can hunt down the story behind it.

Mihály Kolodko creates his little creatures funnily and playfully but there is always more to them than meets the eye. When people look at them, it is usually obvious what they see, but each little mini-statue has its backstory. If you want to reveal the real meaning behind the sculptures and understand what they symbolize, you need to be familiar with news, actualities, history, art, entertainment, or the cultural history of Hungary.

As for their whereabouts they can appear anywhere and anytime so I’d better be on the watch-out if I don’t want to miss the newest one.

Some Interesting Mini-Sculptures

I will show you the most interesting Kolodko mini-statues in Budapest.

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Lunar Rover

Being a nation of inventors, it’s never a surprise that a Hungarian turns out to be behind an innovative new piece of technology. Ferenc Pavlics immigrated to the States after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and started working for NASA.

It was he who came up with the lightweight but resilient wheels needed to traverse the Moon on the Lunar Rover on the 1971 Apollo 15 mission. Ferenc Pavlics was given a NASA award for his achievement. The Lunar Rover (Moon Buggy) mini-statue can be found on Hold utca (Moon Street in English) on its moon-shaped bollard.

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Dead Squirrel

Taking a walk down Falk Miksa Street you wouldn’t expect to come across a tiny dead squirrel. His bronze body is outlined by chalk and his hand clutching a gun and he is lying behind the Columbo statue. The mini-sculpture is an homage to another provocative artwork from 1996. Its title is 'Ars longa vita brevis', ‘Art is eternal, but life is short’ in English, and it means that the piece of art remains, but the artist is forgotten after his death. With this squirrel, the sculptor was referring to Bidibidobidiboo, an installation of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.

Brexit

With the UK finally exiting the European Union, Mihaly Kolodko has decided that we all need a bit of comfort with his piece named Brexit.

Mounted on the wall of the former British Embassy at Harmincad Street, near Elizabeth Square, this bear will be instantly recognizable to most as Mr. Bean’s beloved toy.

Libido

Do you know where the famous Danube Promenade of Budapest is? Do you know its story? On the opposite bank of the river, between Chain Bridge (Lánchíd) and Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd) in the second half of the 19th century they built a row of hotels with a promenade called Korzó in front.

The walk had terraced cafés and restaurants overlooking the Danube river and it was a popular place to have a café, a walk or a chat. Today's Duna Korzó or Danube Promenade is lined with hotels, terraced bars and statues too.

Since 1900 it has been possible to travel along by tram. According to National Geographic, this is the 7th spectacular tram line in the world, offering the best view of the cityscape along the Danube, a World Heritage Site.

Placed between the iron fence posts near Chain Bridge lies another mini-sculpture. Libido, a balloon dog, is an homage to the scandalous artist Jeff Koons who is also known for his balloon animals and inflatable sculptures. This little guy, surrounded by expensive hotels and fancy, not-so-cheap cafés, represents the eternal obsession for carnal pleasures and desire for luxury.

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Emperor Franz Joseph on Liberty Bridge

The choice of location was significant, as the bridge used to bear the Austrian Emperor and Hungarian King’s name, and he hammered the last rivet to complete the construction of Franz Joseph Bridge (now Liberty Bridge). But his hammock refers to the folks who took over the bridge while it was closed to road traffic in summer evenings a few years back.

Theodore Herzl

He was a Jewish Austrian-Hungarian journalist, writer, and political activist who became known as the father of modern Zionism. The tiny sculpture of Herzl with his bike is (most likely inspired by a photo taken of Herzl with his bike in Austria) appropriately placed near the iconic Dohány Street Synagogue, not too far from his birthplace.

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Rezső Seress, The Composer of The Famous Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy Sunday, known as the Hungarian Suicide Song due to the supposed influence it had on suicide rates in the ‘30s, was the work of Rezső Seress. The composer and musician lived and worked in the Kispipa bar in District VII. A survivor of WWII labor camps and a former trapeze artist, Seress focused on songwriting after an injury.

He could have collected a fortune in royalties for the song in the US, but instead stayed in the bohemian bar, writing, playing the piano, and singing for the guests. Years of depression followed and, Seress committed suicide. His mini-statue on the wall of the former Kispipa restaurant is a tribute to his talents.

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Ray Charles Sings Gloomy Sunday

Noah's Ark

It’s worth finding the precise time of day to see this tiny bronze ark, waiting until the sun hits just the right spot. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with the rainbow that symbolized the end of the flood, recreated in its small multicoloured windows.

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Russian Warship

In a scenario globally shaken by the war in Ukraine, Hungarian-Ukrainian artist Mihály Kolodko could not just stand still. His mini-statue represents Putin on a Russian warship. Do you spot that the miniature lays on a giant middle finger of stone?

Rubik's Cube

Did you know that this popular puzzle toy is a Hungarian invention? So it should come as no surprise that Kolodko wanted to commemorate the Rubik’s Cube by making it into a miniature statue. While you won’t be able to solve this puzzle you can enjoy its clever craftsmanship by heading to the Buda riverbank near Batthyány Square where you’ll find it opposite Parliament.

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Tiny, Sad Tank

This tank on the riverbank near Batthyany Square symbolizes Hungary’s 1956 revolution, as indicated by the bold white letting “Ruszkik Haza!” (“Russians go home!”) etched on the side of the tank. While the tank is facing the Hungarian House of Parliament, its gun is facing downward to signify the end of the revolution.

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In Vino Veritas

A tiny roman legionary is placed in the ruins of the ancient Roman military amphitheater of Aquincum, the Roman city founded on the banks of the Danube river.

A jar of wine hangs from the hand of the statue, titled “In vino veritas” (“In wine, there is truth”). From the position of the soldier, he looks like he had one glass too many, and ran out of wine. The artist had placed a similar fugure in Pula, Croatia.

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© 2022 Mr Foster

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