Zdzisław Kępiński (1911-1978)
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This article introduces Zdzislaw Kepiński and his work, as seen from a methodological perspective. He was an art historian associated with the University of Poznan (now A. Mickiewicz University) and the National Museum of Poznan. Kepinski specialized in medievalism and the art history of the 19th and 20th centuries. He was also a literary historian and painter, who taught painting at the local academy of fine arts. Although unwilling to make theoretical and methodological statements, he is presented here as the most outstanding iconologist in Polish art history (confirmed by his study on the Romanesque bronze doors in Gniezno). This does not mean that he was the best at understanding and implementing the principles of this method, only that he greatly enriched it. His attitude can best be described as a combination of a specific kind of dilettantism and a relative independence from institutional constraints (though he was a Marxist), with the freedom of movement between disciplines and research methods formulated in response to the challenges posed by works of art. Dealing with such artists as Veit Stoss, Jan van Eyck, Stanislaw Wyspiański or the Impressionists, the scholar tried on the one hand to reconstruct their imaginative world, and on the other the epoch in which they worked. Kępiński also wrote about contemporary artists, with whom he maintained long-lasting friendships, worked with or mentored. Kepinski contributed many texts in this field, brief but important, especially the catalogues of exhibitions. As a result, he significantly contributed to the establishment of the canon of Polish art of the third quarter of the 20th century.
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