ARTISTIC METALWORK IN CRACOW AT THE TURN OF THE 20TH C.
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The recent process of refurbishing and modernizing many Cracow houses built at the turn of the 20th c. often leads to destroying many of their original architectural fittings. This situation has stimulated art historians' and conservators' interests in woodwork and metalwork from that period, which were previously considered devoid of any artistic or aesthetic value. Fortunately, the number of such artifacts available for study is sill quite substantial. They were produced at the time of the city's rapid expansion caused by an industrial boom.The preserved pieces of metalwork and woodwork: doors, gratings, balustrades, door-handles, windows, etc, usually represent very high quality and considerable artistic value. Craftsmen and manufacturers of the time took care to ensure that their products, even if mass-produced, met the requirements and expectations of the customers, especially that the competition on the market was severe. Furthermore, many artisans were increasingly ambitious in their work; they often cooperated with renowned architects and designers, and some even designed their products themselves, which became quite common around the year 1900. The artistic refinement of metalwork and woodwork was undoubtedly enhanced by craftsmen taking professional courses in Vienna, Paris and Cracow. As a result, the early 20th c. in Cracow saw a clear tendency to turn common fittings into little works of art, which is evident from the preserved examples, as well as from written sources: advertisements, descriptions in daily newspapers and professional periodicals, industrial exhibition catalogues, producers' pricelists and catalogues. (17 pictures)
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