Karykatura kawiarniana jako medium nowoczesności: Jama Michalika w Krakowie
CAFÉ CARICATURE AS THE MEDIUM OF MODERNITY: MICHALIK’S DEN IN KRAKÓW
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The significance of caricature for the aesthetics of modernity was declared by Baudelaire in mid-nineteenth century Paris, while the uniqueness of the coffeehouse as a hub of modernist literary movement was discussed at large in the context of the turn of the century Vienna. This article is about the symbiotic interaction between these two: the medium of caricature and the socio-cultural institution of the café and their joint contribution to the process of fostering modern urban identities in fin-de-siècle Krakow, a self-declared suburb as much of Vienna as of Paris. It examines the affinities between café and caricature and it identifies a special type of caricature which, produced in a café, serves as a visualisation of a concept, an argument in a debate or a display of skills, rarely entering collectors’ portfolios or cabinets of drawings. Unrecognised so far in art-historical literature, the café caricature - ephemeral, fugitive, contingent - better than any other medium fits the definition of modernity as described by Baudelaire. There are at least two ways to approach the interconnectedness of café and caricature. One, is to look at this relationship in the context of liberal modernity, identified with experiment, synaesthetic impulse, performativity and subversion. Another way, more political, is to admit that, in spite of the concurrency with rebellion, both café and caricature served also as malleable tools of the disciplining of modernity. Both were parading subversion while hiding at the same time their inimical adherence to rituals and formulas, and both were perfectly suited to essentialise and ostracise the Other through the excuse of reforming urban society under the veil of anti-philistine laughter.
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