An intimate exhibition presented on the centenary of Wojciech Fangor’s birth charts the multifaceted nature of this remarkable Polish artist’s oeuvre.
The show opens with Fangor’s 1942 portrait of prof. Szczęsny Kowarski, with whom the artist took private painting classes during the war. As it later transpired, this education provided the artist with a solid foundation in traditional painting techniques and wall painting. Thanks to these skills, Fangor quickly found his footing in socialist realism, known for its preference for academic painting. In the exhibition, this is represented by Fangor’s early canvas, January 1945 from 1949. Moving away from traditional forms and, simultaneously, socialist realism in the 1950s is evident in Fangor’s posters presented at the exhibition, which today belong to the canon of the Polish poster school.
An extremely important, perhaps even groundbreaking, stage in Fangor’s work involves the artist’s collaboration with the Artistic and Research Departments of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, directed, from 1954, by Jerzy Sołtan. It resulted, among other things, in the designs for SKS Warszawianka and the Polish Pavilion at Expo’58 in Brussels, created by Wojciech Fangor together with Jerzy Sołtan, Zbigniew Ihnatowicz and Lech Tomaszewski. We also present a selection of these projects in the exhibition.
Collaborations with architects and engineers led Fangor to the now most recognized, abstract stage of his work. Dynamic, colourful canvases featuring circular and rippling forms were shown, among others, at the famous exhibition The Responsive Eye held in 1965 at New York’s MoMA and the solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. This period is represented by the 1971 canvas, MA3A, currently held in the Collection of the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art.
Photographs by another eminent émigré artist, Czesław Czapliński, depicting Fangor not only as a painter, but also as a lover of astronomy, as well as video recordings from the process of preparing a site-specific exhibition in 2003, preserved in the archives of Mediateka at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, complement the exhibition.
- Special thanks to Tomasz Zieleniewski for the loan of Wojciech Fangor’s self-portrait.