This thesis focuses on how artists constitute their idea of artistic autonomy in illiberal democracies. Looking at the case of Hungary, I set out to understand how the last decade of governance by the conservative right-wing Fidesz party, with the charismatic prime minister Viktor Orbán at the forefront, has affected conditions in the cultural and art fields in the country. I find that the illiberal democratic context brings about a culture of uncertainty in the art field. Previous sociological research on artists has tended towards looking at Western democratic contexts. Less focus has been given to artists who operate within East European areas that move in autocratic political directions. Hungary can be seen to represent a prototype of how matters can unfold in liberal democracies that become more authoritarian. Simultaneously, Hungary can be seen as a unique case in that it previously has been described as one of the most successful post-communist countries in terms of establishing liberal democratic ideals, and now has suddenly taken an apparent U-turn politically (Kornai, 2015). Political power has been severely centralized. Media independence is heavily compromised, and in recent years the Orbán regime has adopted a particular focus on the politicization of the cultural- and artistic field. This thesis is based on fieldwork in Hungary, and in-depth interviews with artists and curators cut across artistic genres. Thus, this thesis looks at the effects of macro-political shifts on the art field from the artists’ perspective. The analysis implements a descriptive approach, staying close to the empirical findings, and aims to shed light on artists’ conditions during what can be understood as a historically significant moment in Hungarian society. The theoretical framework is eclectic, and different sociological concepts and perspectives are used to highlight and discuss my findings. I draw on the sociology of art tradition and focus on theoretical perspectives on the autonomy of art. Additionally, I use the theoretical framework of exit, voice, and loyalty (Hirschman, 1970) to describe the choices available to the artists. The analysis is split into four parts, based on how the artists constitute their ideas of autonomy. These are 1) The dimension of social background, 2) The macro-political dimension, 3) The international dimension, and 4) The artistic dimension. The artists describe artistic freedom as generally compromised, and give examples of subtle forms of macro-political pressure that lead to a culture of uncertainty. But surprisingly, the artists constantly place the issue of unfreedom on other actors in the field. Based on this discrepancy, the aim of the analysis is to describe how the artists experience the general conditions in the field as well as how the artists give meaning to their own ability to maintain independence. My thesis shows that in order to understand the relationship between politics and art, one needs to consider all the four mentioned dimensions as affecting artists’ ability to maintain independence. My findings show that artists’ ability to uphold relative autonomy in repressive contexts depends upon a privileged social background, an international network, pre-established independence from institutions, and a commitment to artistic ideals of autonomy. An unexpected discovery is how international encounters bring about experiences of negative identity contingencies. While the artists first and foremost stress their autonomous positions, I find that, together, the macro-political and the international level represent a double pressure: 1) the pressure in the Hungarian context, exerted by intermediaries, to withhold criticism of the government, and 2) pressure in the international context, exerted by intermediaries, to engage in political work, specifically with a critical eye towards the Hungarian government.