Wladyslaw Strzeminski 1893-1952
Strzeminski probably spent many months in the hospital. He could not use artificial limbs because of the phantomic pains. His kinetic rehabilitation was made possible only by crutches, which he was to use till the end of his life. In Moscow he was fascinated by the private art collection of the factory owner Shchukin, which included a wide variety of French paintings from Impressionism to Cubism. Since there are no historical documents, we can only guess that Strzeminski started to study history and theory of art. His artistic education was undoubtably quickened by the eruption of artistic events which came in the wake of the October Revolution.
In the first half of the year Strzeminski was the director of the Section of Art of the Joint Departments of Museums and Fine Arts (Podotdel muzeyev y izobrazitelnykh iskustv) affiliated with GubONO. As a representative of the section he was made the secretary of the Arts Council, whose first meeting took place on 4 April. He represented there the far left-wing orientation. The council decided on the current problems regarding the decoration of theatres, the setting, exhibitions, etc.
In Smolensk at an exhibition opened c.15 March, Strzeminski showed ten works, including sketches for the scenery of Mayakovsky's Buffo Mystery Play. These sketches may be connected with the production of the Prologue to this Mystery Play, performed in February in Vitebsk.
The artist's works after the exhibition were selected for the presentation in the Museums of Artistic Culture (Muzeya Khudozhestvennoy Kultury), known as MCHK.
29 June Strzeminski delivered a lecture on the principles of creativity and the systems of composition in Raphaeal's paintings.
In summer Katarzyna Kobro comes to Smolensk. Together they supervised the IZO Studio GubONO - affiliated with UNOVIS. Malevich living in nearby Vitebskwould often visit Smolensk; together they taught the principles of Cubism and Suprematism . One of Strzeminski's students was at that time Nadia Chodasiewicz, known later as Wanda Chodasiewicz-Grabowska or Nadia Leger. Strzeminski exhi- bited with the UNOVIS group in Moscow.
Wilejka Powiatowa was the next place of their settlement, Strzeminski moved there in search of a permanent job after the closure of the Major Lukasiewicz Courses. In the local Henryk Sienkiewicz State High School for Boys and Girls he taught drawing, maybe till mid 1924.
He produced Synthetic, Post-Suprematist and Post-Cubist compositions - these paintings were all early artistic realizations of the nascent theory of Unism. He started collaborating with Vytautas Kainukstis, whom he probably had met in Moscow. Together they both arranged in Vilnius the first Polish exhibition of Constructivist art - The New Art Exhibition, which was opened 20 May in the Corso Theatre. They designed a catalogue - an early example of functional print. In the exhibition, apart from its initiators, three artists participated who were to become main repesentatives of Constructivist avant-garde: Henryk Staiewski, Mieczyslaw Szczuka, Teresa Zarnower. Strzeminski's review of the exhibition published in ZWROTNICA is still the basic source of information about this artistic event.
In the November-December issue of BLOK, Strzeminski published an
article B=2, which was considered to be the first formulation of the
theory of Unism; there he specified what makes his views different
from Szczuka's utilitarian theory.
The Blok group disintegrated: the artist did not take part in subsequent exhibitions and publications of this group.
He was more attracted to the artists centred around the Cracow-based magazine ZWROTNICA, designed covers for its publications, including poetry books by Julian Przybos, whom he had met earlier in the editorial office of the magazine. This contact marked the beginning of their long co-operation and friendship.
At that time he must have met young architects from Warsaw, future members of the Praesens group - most notably Szymon Syrkus and Bohdan Lachert.
According to his former students from the Szczekociny High School, Strzeminski was writing at that time a history of art - maybe drafting one of his future educational programmes.
Meanwhile in MCHK (The Tretyakov Gallery) in Moscow his painting was exhibited (most probably the one kept now in Ivanovo), together with the works by David Sterenberg, Mikhail Larionov, Alexandre Drevin, Olga Rozanova, and Natan Altman.
In a letter written 9 January to Vytautas Kainukstis Strzeminski was very critical about some of the painters from the Praesens group who supposedly wanted to "smuggle regard for modern art" by means of a compromise and a "kind of a contraband". Later he wrote: "(. ..) but actually the results will be the same as in Russia - temporary recognition and total neglect, because New Art should appear openly, with its face uncovered, it should stand unmasked and demand recognition not for its usefulness, but for its superiority (...)". In early March together with the artists from Praesens he may have entertained Kazimir Malevich, who on 25 March after the opening of his exhibition in the Polish Art Club in Warsaw delivered a lecture in Polish Analiza Wspolczesnych Kierunkow Artystycznych (The Analysis of Contemporary Art Movements).
In the same club in April the first one-man exhibition of Strzeminski's works was organized. During the exhibition he presented in the form of a lecture his artistic programme Unizm i dualizm w sztuce (Unism and Dualism in Art). The text of the lecture was later published in the Summer issue of the magazine DROGA, and in 1928 appeared in book form in the series The Praesens Library. In May at an exhibition Machine Age in New York he showed two works: the lost Cafe and (together with Syrkus) the project for the Fur Shop, possibly the one presented earlier at an exhibition of the Praesens group. He lived and worked in Brzeziny, teaching at the same time in Koluszki. In mid 1927 he was offered an attractive job In Koluszki, and in order to avoid strenuous commuting, he soon moved with his wife to Zakowice. In August/September he settled in Koluszki. He was teaching drawing in two schools: the Co-educational High School in A. Mickiewicz Street, owned by the teachers' association and the Girls' High School of Industry and Commerce, which was scantily subsidised by the Polish School Organization and from tuition fees. In the latter he and his wife taught 12 hours of lessons a week. Soon he formulated and introduced his own educational programme for designers, achieving encouraging results.
In November his painting from the MCHK collection Tools and Pro- ducts of lndustry was shown at an exhibition: Novyje tecenija v isskustve (New Tendencies in Art) in Leningrad. In December with a group of painters from Lodz he exhibited in the City Art Gallery in Lodz.
At the First Exhibition of the Warsaw Section of the Union (ZZPAP), which was opened 13 January in Cracow, he was awarded the 2nd prize of 300 zlotys. He showed 29 works: still-lifes, landscapes, abstract paintings and drawings.
Members of the Praesens group were divided in their opinions on the functions of art: the conflict emerged when they started preparing the joint project of the interior design for the pavillions and exhibitions halls at the National Exhibition (PWK) in Poznan. For Strzeminski this enterprise was his last attempt to come to terms with the group which by now was dominated by Functionalists. At the exhibition opening in May he showed also his individual works: a painting on glass and Architectural Composition 8 b. In June he exhibited in Lodz with the Association Start.
In the first half of the year Strzeminski started designing graphic arrangements for Julian Przybos' poems.
At the same time he worked on the programme of the new magazine EUROPA devoted to social and political matters, and edited by Stanislaw Baczynski, the first issue appeared in two editions: in May and in September. Strzeminski wanted it to be the platform of the avant-garde. Soon he was greatly disappointed, the September issue was in his view a total disgrace. However, he kept using the magazine as a means of popularizing the theory and the art of the avant-garde. l6 June in a letter to Przybos Strzeminski wrote about his plans to leave the Praesens group. Later that month he informed him about the prospects of organizing a new group "based on the broader principle of uniting all modernity - poetry, art, architecture". Strzeminski claimed that the direct reason for leaving Praesens was the fact that Kobro's sculptures sent for the National Exhibition had been lost; he also complained about the behaviour of the members of the group who were responsible for the organization of the exhibi- tion and for its financial settlements.
In early July after a few days spent in Warsaw at Baczynski's, the Strzeminskis left for their holidays in Chalupy.
Their house in Koluszki must have been neither comfortable nor safe, since in September "the ceiling collapsed", the necessary redecora- tions which lasted for some time made all artistic work impossible. Despite numerous problems Strzeminski and Kobro's book, Kompo- zyqa przestrzeni. Obliczenia rytmu czasoprzestrzennego (Space Composition. Time-Space Rhythm and its calculations), was sent to print in autumn. Its publication was delayed because of financial difficulties and because some of the commissioned photographs were not ready (the reproductions were to include the lost works by Kobro).
In connection with this book Strzeminski corresponded with Georges
Vantongerloo. Strzeminski had many contacts by correspondence,
e.g. with Jan Brzekowski, Polish poet living in Paris, he knew well the
situation of the European avant-garde. He strove for the availability
of recent literature on modern art and initiated a widespread exchange
of information .
Strzeminski continued his involvement in different kinds of work, which often intermingled: these were his artistic, didactic, theoretical, journalistic and organizational activities.
In January and February he exhibited again with the Group Start; he showed his water-colours at an exhibition together with St. Luke Brotherhood in Cracow.
He corrected the last proofs of the graphic arrangement of Julian Przybos' poems in his volume Z ponad (From Above), which was published as volume 1 of the "a.r." Library in early April. In this work he employed his own idea of functional print. He drafted the first version, and then the final text of the Bulletin of the "a.r." group, no. 1 , which was published also in April. The publication was financed by Strzeminski himself and his friends. The idea of the Bulletin was that it should be like a pamphlet, something (as he wrote) "between a manifesto and an advertisement", a leaflet added to Przybos' book. One could read there "that (...) "a.r." group, which co-operates with artistic avant-garde movements in Europe, extends the conquests of its ideas and consequently brings about creativity and modernity". A fragment of the Communique was published by the magazine L'ART CONTEMPORAINE - SZTUKA WSPOLCZESNA, edited in Paris by Jan Brzekowski. Together with Henryk Staiewski and Julian Przybos Strzeminski organized distribution of the publications of the group in Poland and Europe. He tried to form a network of "representatives" - which were to become centres for distributing Polish avant-garde publications and places for the exchange of ideas. He conducted extensive correspondence about this matter with Jan Tschichold from Munich, Herwarth Walden from Berlin and Bauhaus.
Making use of Staiewski's visit to Paris and Jan Brzekowski's interest in the activities of the group, Strzeminski strove to gain gifts for the International Collection of Modern Art, by instructing the two artists what to look for. Endless negotiations which Strzeminski conducted with the Municipal Council of Lodz about a place for the collection seemed to be coming to a close. He himself asked for works of art from the representatives of European and Polish avant-garde, with whom he co-operated in various publications and other enterprises. He corresponded with Piet Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg, Georges Vantongerloo, Kazimir Malevich, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Teresa Zarnower, Tadeusz Peiper, Wanda Chodasiewicz-Grabowska and others. First paintings for the collection were brought from Paris by Staiewski in mid-February, others followed in summer this year. In March he tried to establish a contact with Czech Modernists, yet to no avail.
At the end of the month the text of the book on the composition of space was already printed thanks to the subsidy of 1000 zlotys granted by the Ministerial Department of Art.
In April, when the J.and K. Bartoszewicz Museum of History and Art in Lodz was opened, the collection of modern art was not yet available to the public for reasons beyond control. The catalogue of the first section of art prepared for this occasion included Strzeminski's Kompozycje i studia fakturowe (Compositions and factural studies), exhibited in Room VI among works by Lodz artists.
In the first half of the year he wrote reviews of the books published
earlier. Jan Tschichold and Franz Roh, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and
Tschichold on new typography - published in the issues of EUROPA.
He also published there a critical text on the work of TOSSPO.
By selling (through the mediation of Przybos) his own drawings "of
the compromising type", he strove to collect money to complete the
printing of the whole book on the composition of space.
In September, through his mediation, Kazimir Malevich asked the
group to organize his second exhibition in Poland. The political
situation in the Soviet Union, and finally the premature death of the
artist made the project impossible.
In January Strzeminski often visited Lodz on matters connected with the Museum and its collection. The opening of the Modern Art Hall in the building of the J.and K. Bartoszewicz Museum at Wolnosci Square was held on 15 February. On the same day in the name of the "a.r." group Strzeminski signed an agreement about depositing the International Collection of Modern Art, which included at that time 21 works. The Lodz Municipal Council was represented by Przedaw Smolik, thanks to whom the whole scheme could be concluded.
In February the richly illustrated book by Strzeminski and Kobro appeared, titled , Kompozycja przestrzeni Obiiczenia rytmu czasoprzestrzennego (Space Composition . Time-Space Rhythm and its Calculations). The book was published as the second volume in the series "a.r." Library.
In the Cracow magazine LINIA Strzeminski wrote an article on the new architecture which should be "(. ..) the regulating factor in the rhythm of social and individual life".
His article Architektonizm Mody (Architectonism of Fashion), publish- ed in the magazine ARCHITEKTURA I BUDOWNICTWO, presented a project of the Koluszki school, more modern than the ideas of Bauhaus and Soviet schools.
Strzeminski painted a series of Unistic Compositions, different in their factures, the first three were exhibited at Winter Salon in December in Warsaw. In his article included next year in the magazine ABSTRACTION-CREATION, he wrote: "(. . .) having examined the architectonic rhythm in my paintings, I now take up the idea of the unity of a painting."
In the beginnings of the new school year the Strzeminskis moved to
Lodz. They lived for a short time in Piramowicza Street, in a one-room,
primitive apartment; later in 56, Lipowa Street, fl. 10. After a few
weeks they moved also from this flat which was equally small and
uncomfortable, Strzeminski worked at that time on an unidentified
painting, Still Life - about which he wrote to Przybos, that it was
"subjective" and "different from anything before". In autumn they
moved to a much more comfortable flat in 22, 6 Sierpnia Street, flat
10. The view from the window reminded the artist of "mountain
landscapes or canyons".
In September he started working in the girls' State School of Industry and Commerce in 41 , Kopernika Street. Soon he became headmaster of the Public School of Technical Training no. 10 at 7, Andrzeja Street. It was a school which offered additional training for printers and house-painters. Strzeminski taught typography and the principles of functional printing. Among the graduates of the school were his later friends and collaborators: Wladyslaw Gorski, Janusz Tusinski, Boleslaw Utkin.
He continued striving to enlarge the collection. In October it already included 59 works.
On 31 October in the Lodz office of the IPS he delivered a lecture Sztuka nowoczesna a szkoly artystyczne (Modern Art and Art Schools), which was published next year in the magazine DROCA.
Strzeminski and Kobro spent Christmas and perhaps New Year together, in the company of Przybos, in Zakopane. He met Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz. Possibly it was then that he painted his earliest surviving Mountain Landscape (cat. 154).
His letter to Przybos from 11 November is especially interesting.
Strzeminski analyzes there the influence of Communism on modern
art. Communism, he wrote, "(. ..) makes art sterile, it is hostile not
only to the new forms of art, but also to any art in general (.. .)" Then
he continued: "(.. .) Until we do not trace all the social and ideological
consequences of modern art - the logic of form - it will hang in the
void and will not find any social extension (.. .)"
Strzeminski took part in the January exhibition of the Polish Artists' Association (ZAP) in Lodz, where for the first time he showed Mountain Landscape and two City-scapes of Lodz. During the exhibition on 30 January in the office of the IPS he delivered a lecture Punkt wyjscia sztuki nowoczesnej (The Point of Departure of Modern Art). In late February he was delegated by the General Assembly of the Polish Artists' Association (ZAP) in Lodz to take part in the work of the Editorial Committee of GLOS PLASTYKOW - an illustrated magazine on visual arts, published in Cracow. Strzeminski participated in the works of this Committee until 1938. From mid 1933 the magazine was the official organ and the national platform of the Polish Artists' Union ZZPAP.
In March the illustrated catalogue of the International Collection of Modern Art was published. The introduction was written by Przedaw Smolik. Among the 75 works there were three by Strzeminski, including Unistic Composition 9 reproduced in the publication. The catalogue was widely distributed, 50 copies were sold in Paris by Jan Brzekowski .
It did not mean that the collection was completed, on 14 April further works arrived from France, and in the following years till the outbreak of World War II the collection was enlarged to 111 works. Strzeminski wrote about the significance of the collection in e.g. ILUSTROWANA REPUEUKA, 7 March, in an article about the art of painting in Lodz. During the organization of the two exhibitions in the Lodz office of IPS. The Spring Salon and the Exhibition of Modern Print, 30 April, Strzeminski learnt that he had been awarded the City of Lodz Award for Visual Arts for 1932. It was preceded by a heated discussion in the press, especially in KURIER LODZKI and GLOS PORANNY, which asked many artists about their opinions of the award. Strzeminski also took part in it, he postulated that in the selection of artists the widest possible view should be applied. The ceremony of granting the award took place on the 25 May and caused violent protests in the conservative circles led by the traditionalist painter Wadaw Dobrowolski. In his speech, expressing his gratitude for the honour, Strzeminski said: "In as much as my strength and power allow me I will continue to fight for that kind of art, which is best suited for the present epoch". Violent attacks were continued also in the following year. Strzeminski tried to defend not himself but the avant-garde art by organizing a press campaign, which Przybos surprisingly did not join despite many entreaties. The poet's silence explains why the relations between them grew chilly next year, although it did not stop their collaboration. The award and the awarded artist found support in official and public pronouncements made by Przedaw Smolik, Leon Chwistek, the Lvov group Artes and others.
Strzeminski installed a printing press in the Technical School, which had already started working in May. The student's works were highly praised at numerous exhibitions.
Strzeminski accepted the invitation to take part in the Organizational Committee of an exhibition called New Generation, in Lvov in mid July. It was the second show after the Modernist Salon which continued the tradition of presenting a wide spectrum of modern art, while also declaring interest in a different direction of experiments. The Constructivists were dominated here by the Colourists. Strzeminski, who exhibited in Lvov three Unistic Compositions (8, 10, 11) decided to show only his Landscape and two Still Lifes when the exhibitions was moved to Lodz in autumn.
With his wife and the Smolik family Strzeminski spent summer holidays in Chalupy in Hel Peninsula, staying this time in the guest house Kresowianka. He returned to Lodz probably in the beginning of August with a series of new paintings in distemper - his first Seascapes. In his letter to Przybos he wrote: "(...) The sea is better than the mountains. The permanent line of the horizon and the changeability of everything else. Nature is not a matter of chance: a tree or a hill, but a part of an element: light, heat, water, sand, i.e. everything purer and more essential..." Strzeminski painted these paintings very quickly, in one day. He dated them, at first irregularly, with a pencil or with paint on the back side of the cardboard. He used this method also in other compositions produced by this technique: city scapes of Lodz, still-lifes, abstract compositions and other works which come from 1933-1934. He framed them always by the same firm: Leopold Nikiel in Lodz, consulting on the type and colour of the frames. He showed a long series of these paintings at an exhibition of the Polish Artist's Association (ZAP) opened 18 December in Lodz. In the autumn he was involved with the theatre group functioning at the School of Technical Training.
In the end of November after many difficulties, Bulletin of the "a.r." group no. 2 was issued. It was a four-page, condensed leaflet. Strzeminski was the author and co-author of a few short texts, he designed the visual aspect of the publication.
A book of poems by Julian Przybos Wgtab las (Deep into the Forest) was published with typographical design by Strzeminski. The book was published as the third volume of the "a.r." Library. During his stay in Cracow, in November and December, Strzeminski delivered a lecture, which was well attended by the students of the Academy. He wrote that he had made new acquaintances - probably among the members of the Cracow Group. with which he was to become more closely involved in the following years.
He also became member of the international group Abstraction-Creation, together with Katarzyna Kobro and Henryk Staiewski. He published two texts in the magazine of this group bearing the same title as the group.
Further factural Unistic Compositions were produced.
He spent the Christmas holidays in the mountains this time in Wisla, in the company of his wife and Julian Przybos.
The Strzeminskis rented a modern three-room flat in 75, Srebrzynska Street nr 45, in the newly built Montwill Mirecki Housing Estate. On 23 February Strzeminski delivered a lecture in the Warsaw section of IPS called Zasady formy (The Principles of Form).
In the beginning of the year after a misjudged alliance with the Capists, Strzeminski and the "a.r." group established closer contacts with the artists of the Cracow Group and the Paris artists from L'ART CONTEMPORAIN hoping to activate the weakening avant-garde movement. They organized an exhibition together, only once as the Grupa Plastykow Nowoczesnych (Group of Moden Artists), which was opened in IPS in Warsaw on 10 March and in autumn in Lodz. It was the most important presentation of Strzeminski's works: he showed 11 Architectural Compositions, and nine Unistic Compositions from the early and mature periods. In his opinion the main aim of the group was now "to overcome the influence of Neoplasticism and Cubism". During the exhibition he participated in the course for headmasters of Schools of Further Technical Training organized 13 to 25 May by the Ministry of Religious Denominations and Public Education. At the same time he worked on the graphic design of the poetry book by Jan Brzekowski W drugiejosobie. with drawings by Hans Arp. The book was published in the "a.r." Library as volume 4. The next book was Poezja integralna by the same author. Maybe at that time, while Brzekowski strove after the drawings by Arp, Strzeminski sent the artists two of his paintings (cat.1.43 and 1.55 ).
In May the first issue of the quarterly FORMA appeared, which was published irregularly until 1939. It was officially the organ of the Lodz section of the Polish Artists' Association (ZAP), and later the Polish Artists' Union (ZZPAP), but in practice it was the platform for the "a.r." group. Its editor was Karol Hiller, the board included apart from Strzeminski, Aniela Menkesowa, Stefan Wegner, Jerzy Krause, and in 1936 Katarzyna Kobro. It was the only magazine in Poland which dealt so extensively with the problems of modern art. Strzeminski published a number of articles, commentaries to the works reproduced, and editorial notes which reflected his views. For FORMA he obtained articles by Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, and others. His text Druk funkcjonalny (Functional Print), in which Strzeminski developed the previously outlined theoretical foundations of the new art of printing, was published in the magazine GRAFIKA, and later in 1935 as volume 6 of the "a.r." Library. As usual he spent his summer holidays in Chalupy. He painted there a sequence of Seascapes, the first one of which is dated 23 June and the last 15 August.
In August/September he was nominated to the Verifying Committee, which was formed as a result of the split within ZPAP provoked by continuous controversies about the last year's award and the polarization of views. He became member of the newly formed Lodz section of the Polish Artists' Union (ZZPAP) which was in opposition to the Polish Trade Union of Lodz Artists, formed at the same time. In September and October in Poznan in the Institute for the Promotion of Art his one-man exhibition was held, Strzeminski showed Sea scapes, painted probably this year, and other paintings in distemper. He delivered a lecture on recent painting.
His article Sztuka miast i maszyn (The Art of Cities and Machines)- the effect of his interest in the relations between art and post-industrial society, was published in one of the October issues of GLOS PORANNY. He was representative of the Lodz section of the of Polish Artists' Union ZZPAP during the Convention of Delegates, held in Warsaw 20 and 21 October.
He delivered his second lecture in the Warsaw office of IPS on 16 November on Czy kryzys sztuki jest kryzysem strukuralnym czy koniunkturalnym? (Is the crisis in art structural or transitory?). In autumn he started fighting for a new board of the Museum which would include also a few artists - he was worried by the new tendencies in the City Council as regards the collection in the Lodz Museum. In December/January at an exhibition organized by the Union he showed only one Unistic Composition among other works.
He continued to take part in the regular IPS Salons, this time in the
He initiated a series of one-day exhibitions and discussion meetings
for the members of the Union and invited guests. On 21 April he
probably conducted a discussion on the following themes: "Painting,
its forms and modern architecture; external (literary) theme and the
development of the painting's contents by means of form; elements
of form and their meaning for the structure of the painting". On 2 June
the following topics were discussed: "composition of a painting by
means of colour; painting as one of the organizing factors in modern
architecture; the role of consciousness in surrealism".
In February in the Artists House in Cracow an exhibition was opened presenting the works by the Cracow Group and its two guests: Katarzyna Kobro and Stanislaw Strzeminski. Strzeminski accepted the invitation and took part in the opening of the exhibition on 17 April; as M. Sobieraj remarked, Strzeminski probably felt responsible for the art of the Cracow artists which was anti-academic, though far from innovatory. He represented a decidedly opposite view on the basic issue of the relations between art and society. He opposed the dominating tendencies of "new realism", the national movement, which dominated the scene after the great economic crisis. Instead Strzeminski presented his utopian vision of the "industrialization of art". In those times, the work of art should be "a visual painterly experiment", "an invention which fertilizes utilitarian and productive potentials", and its aim must be "to multiply general social activity and energy" - he wrote in his article Hasto przeciw stabilizatorom sztuki (A Signal Against the Stabilizers of Art) , published in a leaflet commemorating the Cracow exhibition, and in the magazine TYGODNIK ARTYSTOW. He suggested that the works of the Cracow Group be shown at an exhibition in Lodz. In many cases he showed his magnanimity towards others: shortly before the exhibition, he helped a young artist from Lodz, Henryk Wicinski, to get a City Council grant. In the spring due to financial difficulties, the Strzeminskis had to move from their flat: they would live in their new two-room flat in 75, Srebrzynska Street, ft 44, until the beginning of the war. Strzeminski designed another book by Jan Brzekowski Zacisnigte dookota ust (Tight around the lips), which was published with the drawings by Max Enst in the following year.
The May issue of FORMA published a discussion in a series of letters begun in December of the previous year with Leon Chwistek - it was a dispute between the representative of Unism and the founder of Strefism (the Theory of Zones). Chwistek's suggestion that the idea "anti-unism" might become the common platform for the two theories, was not accepted and the controversy remained unsolved.
Strzeminski was convinced that "museums play the most important role in artistic education", in the same issue of FORMA he pointed to the need of a proper selection of exhibits from 19th century Polish painting for the Lodz museum. How wide his interests were could be seen again in his lecture on modern art which he delivered at Jankel Adler's exhibition in Lodz on 11 May, followed next day by a debate on the main thesis.
On 11 November he took part together with Stefan Wegner, in the Congress of Delegates of the Polish Artists' Union ZZPAP in Warsaw. The organization of a national salon was discussed during the Con- gress. The Salon was planned to be a presentation of so called good art by the artists, who were members of the Union. Strzeminski was elected to the Qualifying Committee and to the jury of the exhibition, which was opened in January of the next year.
30 November he gave a talk on 0 istocie drukow funkcjonalnych (The Nature of Functional Typography), in the building of the City Public Library in Lodz during another exhibition of prints by students and graduates of the School of Technical Training.
He worked on the Organizing Committee of the Modern Artists'
Exhibition, formed by the end of the previous year, trying to organize
a joint show of the "a.r." and the Cracow Group. On behalf of the
Committee he signed with Sasza Blonder and Henryk Staiewski on
6 January a letter to the Institute IPS suggesting that such a show be
organized in all the exhibition rooms of the Institute. But the leaders
of the Institute IPS were no longer interested in any contacts with the
representatives of the avant-garde, which encountered a period of
serious crisis at that time; after a long deliberation it was decided not
to offer the facilities for organizing these exhibitions.
Strzeminski edited an album dedicated to Kazimir Malevich, and included there his own Suprematist lithography - as an hommage to the artist.
Strzeminski was not Invited to the National Salon of Painting, organized by IPS.
Two paintings from Hans Arp's collection were exhibited in January and February during the exhibition of Constructivist art in Basel. The Strzeminskis strove hard to keep their permanently ill child alive, which to a large degree made it impossible for the father to continue his artistic work.
The March issue of the war journal LITZMANNSTADTER ZEITUNC published an article by Adolf Kargel on the International Collection of Modern Art and its initiator. His works, like the whole collection, were declared to be examples of Entartete undjudische Kunst. Strzeminski produced another cycle of drawings, directly linked with the theme of war, the Occupation and the earlier series Deportations; the title was probably War Against Homes, and not Civil War, as it was usually written in the inventories of the Museum.
Strzeminski earned his very modest living by painting postcards and portraits and decorating rag bags produced by his wife. Probably he also worked with Boleslaw Hochlinger in the pottery factory in Zdunska Wola in the department of artistic ceramics.
That year or the following one he suffered from a serious illness of his eye - for some time he was in hospital.
He spent Christmas with his wife and daughter in Poznan, where Katarzyna Kobro's sister settled, and later her father.
In early summer Strzeminski met with Julian Przybos who came to
Lodz for a short visit. He participated in the first post-war exhibition
of the Lodz section of the Union (ZZPAP), opened in August and
September in the former office of the Institute (IPS) in H. Sienkiewicz
Park. When the academic year began Strzeminski was employed in
the newly founded school WSSP as a contracted deputy professor.
He lectured on: history of art, the principles of form, typography and
functional graphics. He worked on his own educational programmes,
which put special emphasis on composition and the principles of form.
His individual and unconventional lectures, synthesizing knowledge
and inviting listeners to participate in the analysis of the form of a work
of art, were extremely popular among the students.
In November the inventory of the City Museum of Lodz listed 78 works
by Strzeminski, including 44 drawings from 7 cycles, as a gift of the
artist. The first 69 works had been donated the month before. The
further nine works were added to the collection of the Museum via his
friends, with whom Strzeminski used to deposit some of his works.
For example, three paintings were donated on the request of the artist
to the Museum by his former student Janusz Tusinski. The donation
included: Unistic Compositions, (early and mature), Architectural
Compositions, Sea- Land-, and City-scapes, Cubist still-lifes and
Cubist landscapes. Among the drawings there was a new cycle,
produced that year, with an explanatory title Hands Which Are Not With
In February together with Teresa Tyszkiewicz and Jerzy Krawczyk Strzeminski exhibited in the office of the Working Cooperative of the Polish Artists' Union (ZPAP) in Lodz.
His one-man show of his works on the theme of the Holocaust was open in the Salon in 102, Piotrkowska Street.
15 February the Lodz school was granted the statute and became the state school with the name Higher School of Arts (PWSSP).
in May he became member of the painters' section of the Club of young Artists and Scholars - integrating some of the circles of "modern" artists - its office and gallery of modern art were in the Polish Army House in Warsaw.
Shortly before the holidays he left his family and moved to a rented room - which also served as his studio, in 8, Kollataj Street. The room soon became a meeting place where long discussions on art were held. Strzeminski, together with his friends and students, discussed each chapter of his theoretical work on the subject of seeing. He welcomed his guests usually with his favourite strong coffee and cranberry jam, always smoking very strong cigarettes. Basing on his lectures on the history of art, Strzeminski wrote articles, later published in PRZEGLAD ARTYSTYCZNY and ODRODZENIE, which analysed the seeing of the Greeks, Gothic artists, and the Impressionists. The co-author of one of them was Stefan Krygier, Strzeminski's student at that time. In the magazine MYSL WSPOLCZESNA Strzeminski published a fragment of a larger work (as he himself phrased it) , on which he had worked before the war, but which was destroyed during the Occupation; its title was Lodz sfunkcjonalizowana (Functionalized Lodz). In this work he developed his theory of the city formed in a healthy and rational way. Much later the pre-war manuscript of this work was donated to the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz by Samuel Szczekacz (Zur).
About 20 July he went to the second open-air student workshop which was held again in Nowa Ruda. Strzeminski produced further Mountain Landscapes, Clouds, Mountains and Clouds, and other works with similar titles. In the new academic year in the Department of Spatial Arts, of which he was the head, Strzeminski introduced first courses on the problems of architecture (design, drawing, the theory of materials, tectonics) . He was the initiator of this extended educational project. Roman Modzelewski believes that in doing so Strzeminski wanted to continue the ideas formulated in the programme of the "a.r."group. Treating art as a means of introducing social changes he tried to develop general artistic education and specialist training. His project which was introduced in the Department of Spatial Arts had a decisive influence on the syllabuses of other faculties, and in consequence determined the future character of the school. Strzeminski lectured on the history of art in the Department of Film, Photography and State Design, which was the origin of the future Film School in Lodz. He lectured also on the history of art and the principles of form to the students of the Textile Department.
He designed furniture and print patterns for textiles. Together with Modzelewski he negotiated the possibilities of co-operation between the school and light industry - however, to no avail . He collaborated with Jerzy Oplustil on the project of designing the Polish pavillion for the Fair in Zagreb.
In early autumn he met writer Zofia Nalkowska. In her journal under the date 19 September she wrote about the meeting: "(. . .) Evening with the most unusual Strzeminski (...) things about art are extraordinary and interesting. I remember how much Przybos valued his wisdom." On 1 November she wrote: (.. .) "Painter S. who tries also to write is a different matter(...). He is grey haired, sprightly, witty, he says everything with a smile(. . .) . I have not read his story which he wrote in manuscript. And this is one of my more persistent pangs of conscience. He commands respect with his lively intelligence, his innovatory spirit, his consistent pertinacity. "Nalkowska means here possibly the unfinished novel by Strzeminski, which survived in manuscript.
His personal problems were probably the reasons why Strzeminski asked for one-month's leave. We do not why the authorities in the Ministry rejected his request.
24 October the High Council of School of Art PWSSP proposed a resolution addressed to the Ministry of Culture and Art that Strzeminski be granted the Professorship in recognition of his artistic, theoretical and educational work - there was no reply. Strzeminski participated in The Exhibition of Young Artists, opened 30 November in the Club of Young Artists and Scholars, where he showed only one drawing: Mountains and Clouds.
For the First Exhibition of Modern Art in Cracow, opened in December,
Strzeminski for unspecified reasons was not accepted, and his painting
Window, sent to this exhibition, got lost in unknown circumstances. It
was one more painful experience, especially so that the exhibition was
thought of as a platform of confrontation for the "modern artists". It
turned into an independent manifestation in the name of creative
freedom and an attempt to establish contacts with the public.
On 19 January Minister of Culture Wlodzimien Sokorski signed a decision to dismiss urgently and immediately Prof. Wladyslaw Strzeminski from his educational work in the State Higher School of Art PWSSP "for the good of the service". The Party Organization of the school proposed an appropriate resolution . Strzeminski was dismissed also from the Union ZPAP.
From January he started working in the Common Consumers' Co-operative PSS, designing posters.
In the summer he went for a few days to Kazimierz Dolny. There he produced a series of paintings and drawings which reflected his own idea of his role in the building of the new society - Harvesters, Spikes of Corn, Petty Farmers.
He continued writing his theoretical work on the theory of vision in a historical perspective. Roman Modzelewski , quoting Strzeminski, said that the book written in great hurry was meant to be the artist's argument against the absurdity of the slogans of socialist realism. It was addressed first of all to Minister Wlodzimierz Sokorski and other architects of the cultural policy of those times.
From September he taught several hours a week at the Evening Technical College of Printing in 73, Sporna Street.
On 1 October the exhibition in the Museum was closed down, and the Neoplastic Room was repainted. It was only in 1960 that Boleslaw Utkin reconstructed this interior; he also designed the small adjacent room in the neoplastical style". In that room Strzeminski's Architec- tural and Unistic Compositions were exhibited in 1948.
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