Klara Farkas

Klara Farkas (1910---2014) was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her early life was filled with music and studies at the piano at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest.  In 1933, she was married to George Farkas (1905---1961), who was an interior designer and architect.  In a search for a profession related to her husband’s profession, she discovered photography. When George died, Klara supported herself and two children with her photography.

Moving to London in 1937 in the years just prior to World War II, they did not stay long. New York City too was a short stay. It was in Florida that they found their home when George was offered a building commission in Miami Beach in 1940. 

Klara’s love of photography continued, and George continued to design. A home constructed in 1924, by Dwight James Baum in Coconut Grove was purchased by them in 1946, is where they and she lived for almost 70 years. 

The couple’s contribution to the vibrant mid-20th century heyday of arts in Miami and Coconut Grove is notable and remembered. An exhibit in 2008 at the Harn Museum of Art titled “Promises of Paradise, Mid-Century Miami” featured George Farkas, along with others [1]

Klara’s exhibit of 10 Coconut Grove women is in the permanent collection of the Miami-Dade Public Library. Known for her landscapes and for portraits, she took photographs of many important dignitaries in civics, commerce, and the environmental movement, such as Larue “Sunny” Storm, Ijourie Fisher, David Fairchild, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Roddy Burdine, Judith Arango Henderson, Roxcy Bolton, and Elizabeth Virrick [2].

Helen Kohen, a former Miami Herald art critic said, “She was a pioneering Miami artist. Much beloved and much admired.” [3] This passion for arts and culture led Klara to be involved in many endeavors. She was involved in the formation of the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Lowe’s Beaux Arts, president of the University of Miami Women’s Guild, a board member of the Women’s Caucus for Art, a member of the League of Women Voters, a member of the Miami Art Museum, The Wolfsonian Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, season ticket holder in the front row to the New World Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra Miami. Klara was a fellow of The Kampong, a contributor to the University of Miami Brain Bank, supporter of The Institute of EthnoMedicine, and an early founding member of the Margaret Lefranc Foundation. Klara and Margaret, kindred spirits, were close friends in Coconut Grove.

 

Klara’s photographic archives were catalogued, in part, by Sandra McKenzie, President, Director and CEO of the Margaret Lefranc Foundation [4].

Widely traveled and published, she advocated and supported women in the arts.  “She used to say it was like magic, watching those photographs appear in the chemical solution,” her daughter said [5]. A wonderful teacher, she inspired students at the Grove House, the Center of Fine Arts and the Miami Art Museum [6]. In spite of her advancing years and macular degeneration, she actively pursued her lifelong interest in seeing and living until the end.

[1] https://gainesville.com on October 10, 2008 by Nathaly Longas/Special to the Sun on Harn exhibit showcases Miami architecture.

[2] Brain Endowment Bank, Spring 2015.  Donor Profile:  Remembering Legendary Photographer Klara Farkas.  Other  dignitaries Klara photographed are courtesy of Sandra McKenzie.

[3] http://miamiherald.com/news/local/obituariies/article3352471.html, page 3.

[4] Katz, Lois. A Lifetime of Imaging: The Art of Margaret Lefranc. Miami: Nouveau Ventures Unlimited, Inc., in association with the Margaret Lefranc Art Foundation, 2007. p. 22. Sandra McKenzie was only able to work on cataloguing when she and Margaret were in Coconut Grove, not Santa Fe.

[5] http://miamiherald.com/news/local/obituariies/article3352471.html, page 3

[6] Brain Endowment Bank, Spring 2015. Donor Profile: Remembering Legendary Photographer Klara Farkas.