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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tadeusz Makowski


Winter (Zima)
c.1918
oil on canvas
80 x 100 cm
National Museum, Warsaw, Poland

Tadeusz Makowski (1882-1932) was a prominent Polish painter, illustrator and graphic artist. He was active in France for most of his life. He started off as a landscape painter but then shifted towards Post-Impressionism and Cubism. However, he is arguably most famous for his rural landscape paintings. He met Pablo Picasso,who was his good friend. He was also an author of texts on art theory.

He was born in a town in the Lesser Poland province of southern Poland. He studied philology in the Philosophy Department of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow from 1902 to 1906. Simultaneously, from 1903, he attended classes at the city's Academy of Fine Arts. At the turn of 1908-09, he travelled through Munich to Paris where he would live for the rest of his life. He became a member of the circle surrounding artist Henry Le Fauconnier, meeting, among others, Fernand Leger, Alexander Archipenko, Piet Mondrian, and Guillaume Apollinaire. He was a member of the Association of Polish Artists in Paris.

Around 1911, he shifted to a compact manner of constructing his paintings and began treating forms geometrically, using light and shadow to create shapes that he then outlined with clear contours. Between 1913 and 1915, he began to find inspiration in the work of the French realists, Camille Corot and Gustave Courbet. Around 1915, he abandoned Cubist formulas in favour of bright, Impressionist-derived landscapes. In 1918, he introduced a motif that would be central to his work thereafter - the figure of a child. He began creating lyrical, naive images of children in refined, pastel hues. The expansive landscapes that he produced in turn around 1920 were inspired by the art of the elder Pieter Bruegel. Throughout the 1920s he showed his work with that of Expressionist-inclined painters. By 1928, a year that was a milestone in his career, he arrived at a highly individual style of rendering his subjects, one unique within the context of European art. In 1930, his paintings became more Expressionist. He used radically simplified shapes - restricting himself to triangles, cylinders, and cones - and made his lines clearer and weightier. He narrowed his range of colours to earth tones, primarily browns tinged with red and gray, and used thicker layers of paint.