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Gallery of Polish Masters - 6. Body or passionate study of proportion. Nudes

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6. Body or passionate study of proportion. Nudes

The nude has been a key subject for the history of art, pursued in every epoch by representatives of different styles and trends. Krzysztof Musiał's collection comprises works presenting the way the human body was perceived by Polish sculptors, painters and illustrators at the beginning of the 20th century and in the interwar period.
The section begins with Nude of a Young Man, placed on the first stand on the right, created by Edward Wittig, a sculptor connected with Neo-Classicism. A slender naked man stands in contrapposto which is a body position in which his spine is curved into the shape of a letter S. Contrapposto had been in use since ancient times and this could be the inspiration for Wittig’s sculpture. Moreover, it is the only wooden sculpture in the preserved and known works of this author. Sharply carved geometrized shapes of this nude might be juxtaposed with the expressively modeled sculpture placed on the stand alongside, titled Despair. The creator of this composition, made of plaster of Paris, is Stanisław Popławski, the artist from Cracow, fascinated by the 19th century French sculpture. An anonymous naked man is presented in a squatting position, with his face buried in his hands, the body slightly distorted. The naturalism and dramatis of this representation identifies Popławski’s sculpture as an example of the Young Poland Symbolism, and its title implies that it personifies the whole of mankind in the depths of despair.
However, not all the nudes at the exposition are connected to that kind of extreme emotion. The Gallery of Polish Masters provides the viewer with sensual pleasure and aesthetic satisfaction as well. It provides a link to images of naked women, deep in thought or asleep, painted by Wojciech Weiss. Tymon Niesiołowski, in turn, painted Nude, placed to the left of them, which is an example of the decorative art inspired by the masterpieces of the old masters. It is worthwhile stopping for a while in front of this elegant painting, sophisticated in colour, where the nudity is subtle and mysterious. Nudes were a pretext to undertaking brave formal experiments inclined towards abstraction. A good example of this is two drawings by Joachim Weingart, a representative of the École de Paris, which finish the review of this section. Constructed by means of the expressive distinct line, the representation of naked women point to the inspirations by Cubism and Synthetism, which does not deprive them of their sensuality and finesse.    

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