Władysław Strzemiński
(1893–1952)

Władysław Strzemiński, Composition (Afterimage), 1948–49, oil on canvas, Grażyna Kulczyk Collection, installation view, EMST—National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Mathias Völzke

Władysław Strzemiński, The Sun—The Heart of the Day, 1948, oil on canvas, Collection Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, Warsaw, installation view, EMST—National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Mathias Völzke

Władysław Strzemiński, six works from the series “Deportations,” 1940, collection Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi, Łódz
, installation view, Neue Galerie, Kassel, documenta 14, photo: Mathias Völzke

Władysław Strzemiński, six works from the series “Cheap as Mud,” 1944, collection Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi, Łódz
, installation view, Neue Galerie, Kassel, documenta 14, photo: Mathias Völzke

“The movement of the eye, the trace of the sliding glances, the muscles that contract and distend link the shapes seen in nature and form a uniform rhythm … The rhythm is mostly the rhythm of autonomous movements that emanate from the nervous-muscular system. A physiological rhythm that connects the content of separate glances. This falling and rising rhythm of pulsating lines, which results from the biological reaction of the muscles, subordinates the visual acquisition of separate glances, transforms them, and creates a constantly changing rhythm of irregular symmetry.”
—Władysław Strzemiński

Władysław Strzemiński (1893–1952) was born in Minsk in present-day Belarus. He was one of the key figures of the avant-garde movement in Poland. Crippled in a freak accident during military service in the First World War, Strzemiński developed an interest in the arts and went on to study and work in Russia with his wife, sculptor Katarzyna Kobro, before moving to Poland in the early 1920s. Strzemiński’s practice fundamentally explored of the underlying principles of human vision.

Strzemiński spent the Second World War in Łódź where from 1940 he witnessed mass deportations of the city’s inhabitants and the atrocities in the Jewish Ghetto established by the Nazi occupants. These events are reflected in the two series of works on paper in which the contours of human figures float and dissolve beyond recognition.

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