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Gallery of Polish Masters - 3. The way to an ultimate concept. Sketches

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3. The way to an ultimate concept. Sketches

Before a painting or a sculpture is created, it is usually preceded by sketches. This is the way in which the artist tries to examine a subject, searching for the best compositional solutions and measuring proportions. Sketches do not always translate to the value of the finished work. However, they are usually an interesting record of their process of creation. These processes can be traced in this section.
The first sketch placed on the left, opposite the column, was noted for interesting circumstances in which it was produced. It is a drawing with the background painted in the watercolour technique, created by Jacek Malczewski, Master of the Young Poland Modernism, who initiated an original variation of Symbolism in Polish art. The drawing was created as a project of the cover for the first edition of the album Polish Art – Painting, which appeared in Lviv at the beginning of the 20th century. It was a luxurious publication illustrated with colourful reproductions, the first graphically professional presentation of Polish painting. Designing the cover Malczewski proposed an allegorical scene with the Muse-Polonia observing naked children playing against a mountain background. It was a metaphor of the favourable conditions for the development of art in the period of Young Poland. Nevertheless, the publisher chose a project made by Józef Mehoffer, another Master of Polish Modernism. However a reproduction of the full version of Malczewski’s sketch can be admired in the album The Łódź Gallery of Polish Masters, published by the Museum of the City of Łódź.
An intriguing though as yet unexplained story is connected with a drawing by Leon Chwistek. Chwistek was an artist and art theoretician, yet professionally he was concerned with mathematical logics. He combined both passions in Nude of a naked woman in a daring pose – the drawing constructed with a geometrized line, whose reverse side contains a mathematical manuscript, accompanied by comments written in English, still awaiting final clarification. In this record the artist used what at that time was an innovation – a system of notation without brackets. The relationship of the manuscript to the nude has not yet been explained. The manuscript has been reproduced in the album The Łódź Gallery of Polish Masters – we encourage everybody to try and interpret it.
Gustaw Gwozdecki was another artist who made geometrized drawings of nudes. In his case, however, it was more a Cubist stylisation and a search for the „spiritual glow” of a model. Another kind of stylistics can found in sketches by Zygmunt Menkes, Elie Nadelman and Tadeusz Makowski. The examples of sketches that were finally realised are Two Studies of A Man’s Head for „the Corpse”, a painting by Jacek Mierzejewski, in the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw and the study for Crisis by Wojciech Weiss.


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