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2009 | 54 | 3-4 | 123-164

Article title

OUTLOOKS OF HELENA AND SZYMON SYRKUS UPON ARCHITECTURE IN THE YEARS 1925-1956 (Poglady Heleny i Szymona Syrkusów na architekture w latach 1925-1956)

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Helena (1900-1982) and Szymon (1893-1964) Syrkus were the originators of functionalism in Polish architecture. At their suggestion, and particularly at Szymon Syrkus' suggestion, was set up a group 'Praesens', which gathered architects, painters and sculptors, and propagated functionalism, standarization and prefabrication in architecture. An inspiration was a practice of Le Corbusier, Jacobus Johannes Oud, Kazimierz Malewicz (suprematism) and building solutions, among others in Germany and in the United States of America. The gathered in 'Praesens' architects designed and realized ahistorical and extremely modern architecture - for instance, a planned and built in 1929 by Szymon Syrkus Pavillion of Fertilizers, which was exhibited during Public National Exhibition in Poznan, and consisted of exhibition hall and 30 metres long tower of steel construction. Helena and Szymon Syrkus worked actively on behalf of International Congresses of Modern Architecture (Les Congrés Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM)), delivering speeches and co-authorizing the programme - among others, the Athenian Charter (1933). After 1945 they changed their outlooks radically and declared then for Soviet architectural solutions that in Warsaw are symbolized by the Palace of Culture and Science, which was enthusiastically welcome by the Syrkus. At the same time, they presented an extensive self-criticism and distanced themselves not only from their inter-war outlooks, but also from Le Corbusier and Kazimierz Malewicz. Their opinions about architecture in the years 1945-1956 are illustrated by the enclosed archival materials. The Syrkus, and especially Helena Syrkus, did not make any attempt at explaining their radical change of views and resumption of the programme of the inter-war period in 1956. The fact of relinquishing vanguard outlooks in 1945 was probably caused by a tissue of several circumstances: radicalization of political views (they were active members of the Polish Workers' Party and the United Polish Workers' Party); experiences of World War II - Szymon Syrkus was kept imprisoned in Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and other concentration camps on the territories of Germany (1942 - 1945), and Helena Syrkus was kept in labour camps in the vicinity of Wroclaw (1945); misgivings about their lots in the period of struggle against cosmopolitism and Zionism in the USSR and other contemporary socialistic countries in the years 1948 -1953; and inclination to make a career - they probably looked forward to key positions in the Academy of Architecture, which had to be patterned upon the Sovietic models according to their conception.









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  • Jozef Pilatowicz, Akademia Podlaska, Instytut Historii, ul. Konarskiego 2, 08-110 Siedlce, Poland


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Publication order reference


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