Monday, January 12, 2015

Witold Wojtkiewicz

A procession of children (Children surprised the storm)
oil on canvas
92 x 50 cm
National Museum, Warsaw, Poland

Witold Wojtkiewicz (1879-1909) was a Polish neoromantic painter, draughtsman and illustrator, exceptional artist of the "Young Poland" movement, representative of early Expressionism and Symbolism, active in Warsaw and Krakow. Within the Young Poland movement, he was  distinguishable for the originality of his oeuvre. Many also view him as a precursor of the various trends that appeared in Polish art of the 20th century - from grotesque art colored by irony through Expressionism that penetrated the human soul and Surrealism that examined the subconscious using a refined aestheticism.

The early Expressionistic tendencies visible in his drawings were also shaped by his fascination for the art of Francisco Goya. Gradually his works evolved towards a poetic that was both lyrical and grotesque, one unique in Poland and having no equivalent in world art. Another realm that he continued to explore in his art with increasing depth was the world of children. He intensified the fictional dimension of these fairy-tale scenes by inserting out of the ordinary objects into their rural settings.

He started his education at the Warsaw School of Drawing in 1898 and continued at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. He was suffering from a serious heart condition at birth in 1879. He grew up in a large family where his father was a bank employee. He died of a heart attack at the age of thirty. He was located at the crossroads of symbolism and expressionism. He also worked as an illustrator and postcard designer.