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2009 | 8-9 | 255-281

Article title

The Art Of Zygmunt Radnicki (1894-1969)



Title variants

Tworczość Zygmunta Radnickiego (1894-1969)

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Zygmunt Radnicki, born on 29 November 1894 in Czortkow near Tarnopol, began studies (1913) at the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts in the studio of St. Debicki, to continue to study painting in the studios of J. Mehoffer and W. Weiss. He graduated from the Academy in the year 1924, but already during his studies he began working in schools. After WW II he moved to Cracow. He joined the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts and in 1946 he obtained the position of associate professor; in the years 1950-51, he held the post of rector of the Academy and in the year 1951, he was nominated full professor. During that time, he belonged to the Cracow circle of the Polish Artists' Union. He took part in many exhibitions, both in Poland and abroad, obtaining numerous prizes and distinctions. He died on 5 November 1969 At present, Radnicki is a forgotten artist, although his varied art work reflects the changes which were taking place in Polish art up until the sixties of the twentieth century. As a young man, he was associated with the avant-garde trend known as 'Formism'. In his art, one can perceive certain influences of cubism, expressionism and futurism. At this stage of his artistic activity one can perceive in his art the influences of such Polish artists as: J. Hrynkowski or L. Dolzycki. This was particularly noticeable in a similar way he and the formists perceived the form of an object which in the majority of cases was simplified to its geometric shape. Side by side with the formist and colorist interests, in the paintings of Radnicki, one can clearly perceive a fascination with Cézanne which is also reflected in his article entitled 'The Art of Cézanne in the Light of the Modern Times' (1937). In the 'Self-Portrait' of 1926, Radnicki stylizes himself on the characters presented on Cézanne's portraits. After the WW II, in 1949 -1954, the dominant trend in the Polish art was that of Socialist realism. Like many artists, Radnicki was forced to give in to its principles. In spite of it, he tried to find himself in the new artistic reality and to map out his own creative way which would be based on his experiences so far. It is in this period that he painted: 'The Construction of a Motorway (Mapping out a Road)' and 'Homecoming' - both of 1950, 'Haymaking' (circa 1953-55), as well as 'Still Life' with the 'Trybuna Ludu' Paper (1952). The authoress tried to explain what artistic phenomena defined the art of Zygmunt Radnicki. One should state here that formism, which was the first distinctive and avant-garde trend that the artist had come into contact with, exerted an influence on his entire creative life. Since the middle of the twenties, color acquires an extended and ever wider artistic palette in the paintings of Radnicki. These to some extent opposing tendencies (formal and colorist one) seem to co-exist in Radnicki's works. Yet one should state here that his artistic activity developed more under the influence of Cézanne. After the war, the artist tries to fit himself into the mandatory Socialist realist trend in his own specific way. Whereas later on, particularly after 1956, he returns to his experiments with form which although derived from formism - still constituted a symptom of modernity in Poland at that time. In the authoress' view, in the majority of these efforts and experiments, the artist had managed to retain sincerity and originality as well as a high level of artistic expression.






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  • Muzeum Historyczne Miasta Krakowa
  • Magdalena Smaga, Muzeum Historyczne Miasta Krakowa, Palac Krzysztofory, ul. Rynek Glówny 35, 31-011 Kraków, Poland)


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Publication order reference


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