Desiderius Orban, OBE (née Orbán Dezso; 26 November 1884 – 4 October 1986) was a renowned Hungarian painter, printmaker and teacher, who, after emigrating to Australia in 1939 when in his mid-50s, also made an illustrious career in that country.
One of The Eight in Budapest, early 20th-century painters who were influential in introducing cubism, expressionism and Fauvism to Hungary, Orbán had been influenced by the paintings of Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cézanne, seen when he lived in Paris. After building a substantial career, in 1939 after the rise of Nazi Germany and the invasion of Poland, he left Hungary and emigrated to Sydney. He painted and taught for nearly another fifty years, influencing generations of students.
Born Orbán Dezso to Jewish-Hungarian parents in Gyor, Hungary, in 1884, he moved as a child with his family to Budapest in 1888. There he later studied art with János Pentelei Molnár. He studied philosophy, physics and mathematics at the University of Budapest. In 1905, he performed the compulsory military service with the Austro-Hungarian army.
In 1906, Orbán moved to Paris, where he studied briefly at the Académie Julian, but gave up academic training to study alone. Numerous artists from Hungary were flocking to Paris at the time.
After his return to Budapest, in 1909 Orbán joined with several other young artists known as "neos", or Keresok (The Seekers). They were taking a different direction from the older artists of the Nagybánya school, whose painters had worked at what is now Baia Mare, Romania and first brought impressionist and post-impressionist techniques to Hungary.
At their second exhibit in 1911, the group took the name The Eight (Nyolcak); they brought contemporary painting techniques and expression from western Europe to Hungary. Other members of the group were Károly Kernstok, Béla Czóbel, Róbert Berény, Dezso Czigány, Ödön Márffy, Bertalan Pór, and Lajos Tihanyi.
In these early years, Orban came into contact with Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and Georges Braque.
In 1912-13 he was called up again for military service in the Balkan Wars.