Some Remarks on Marcin Urbanik's Architectural Work
Andrzej Betlej, Instytut Historii Sztuki, Uniwersytet Jagielloński, ul. Grodzka 53, 31-001 Kraków
The paper deals with Marcin Urbanik and his architectural activity. Until now Urbanik has been underestimated in most studies devoted to the history of Lvov architecture. His activity formed a background for the achievements of Jan de Witte and Bernard Meretyn. Between 1745 and as late as 1764 the architect, who came from Zamość, managed the fabrica of the Corpus Christi Church of the Dominicans in Lvov. Furthermore, towards the end of the 1740s he carried out repairs to the burned convent of the Benedectine nuns in that city; he probably also worked for the Lvov Dominican nuns, raising a beli tower by their Church of St. Catherine of Siena, and participated in the reconstruction of the convent of the Armenian Benedictine nuns. Urbanik enjoyed special favours with the Palatine of Vilnius, Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł, nicknamed Rybeńko (Darling), through whose good offices he was granted the position of the king's servitor and the title of royal architect. In 1753, "following our architect's [Urbanik's] advice", the Dominicans decided to complete the construction of the Church of St Mary Magdalene. Despite the suggestions that the work on the edifice was carried out by the architect according to De Witte's design, it is Urbanik who should be recognized as the author of the extension of the church. There is no reason for rejecting source information; besides, what is eąually important, in terms of style the church utterly differs from the other religious structures designed by De Witte. Among Urbanik's "Lvov" accomplishments should also be counted his participation in the refashioning of the Sapieha/Lubomirski palące in Lvov, which started in 1744 and which should be ascribed to Meretyn (as established by Piotr Krasny). After Meretyn's death the work was continued until 1764 by Marcin Urbanik. An iconographic record in the Art Collection of the W. Wernadski Scientific Library in Lvov is probably connected with this period of Urbanik's activity.
The set of drawings which may have belonged to Marcin's son, Wincenty, a land surveyor, includes the design of a triangular pediment with lavish sculptural decoration, featuring the figure of Hercules supporting a shield under a prince's coronet, with the Szreniawa coat of arms. In addition, the tympanum contains a trophy and a rocaille cartouche with the initials "SL" (monogram of Stanisław Lubomirski). This work may be ascribed to Urbanik. To him may also be attributed the Carmelite Church of St Martin in Lvov (consecrated in 1753, though the work on completing the edifice was still going on in the second half of the 1750s), whose stylistic features are identical with those of the Church of St Mary Magdalene and of the beli tower of the Church of St Catherine of Siena. An archival reference of 1761, in which Mikołaj Potocki, the starost of Kaniów, on the basis of the list prepared by "my architect Urbanik" had applied to the Lvov municipal authorities for permission to employ bricklayers, served as a basis for ascribing to the artist the parish church at Buczacz (consecrated in 1764), the parish Uniate church at Horodenka (consecrated in 1766), the Dominican monastery at Bohorodczany (erected between 1742 and 1761), and recently also the extension of the Armenian church at Horodenka. AU these structures differ in their style from the above-mentioned Lvov edifices. They are characterized by extremely rigid, strong dwisions and by heavy, sąuat proportions. It is surprising that Marcin Urbanik has been recognized as an architect carrying out Mikołaj Potocki's foundations, sińce it is well known that Buczacz had a vigorous circle of craftsmen and the military some of whom were surely engineers. It must therefore be emphasized that the archival materiał confirms the artistfs authorship practically only in the case of building operations in Lvov: For stylistic reasons the attributions of the beli tower by the Church of the Holy Ghost and of the facade of the Carmelite Church of St Martin appear to be most likely, as does Urbanik's participation in the construction of the Lubomirski palace the extant design of a pediment for the edifice is in some measure linked with the architecfs name. The letters of the starost of Kaniów may form the basis for the assertion that Urbanik worked on the building of the parish church at Buczacz and the Uniate church at Horodenka. It must, however, be most emphatically stated that they are stylistically dependent on Meretyn's structures and that in all likelihood they were built according to his designs, while Urbanik may merely have carried out the earlier plans. That is why these attributions as well as those of the remaining buildings on the territories south of Lvov should be regarded as doubtful. These works do not exhibit any common stylistic features with the "Lvov" structures associated with the name of Marcin Urbanik on the basis of archival evidence. Therefore there seems to be no reason for ascribing them to that particular artist.więcej o Some Remarks on Marcin Urbanik's Architectural Work
Teofil Lenartowicz's Madonna at Wieliczka
Klementyna Ochniak, Muzeum Zup Krakowskich w Wieliczce, ul. Zamkowa 8, 32-020 Wieliczka
The paper deals with the Madonna (Ave Maria) relief by Teofil Lenartowicz, which is set up on a nave pillar in St Clemenfs Church at Wieliczka. This is a high-relief figure of the Virgin and Child, framed by a bas-relief border with the scenes illustrating the Ave Maria prayer. The work was cast in the galvanoplastic technique.
The present author identified the composition as the Ave Maria relief, executed by Lenartowicz in 1876 in Florence, which the researchers have until now believed to be lost. The artist displayed the sculpture at the exhibition of the Society for Promotion of Fine Arts (Zachęta) in Warsaw (1876), and then at the Cracow exhibition of the Society of Friends of Fine Arts, the latter Society buying it in 1877. In the 1880s, thanks to Helena Małachowska's endowment, the Madonna found its way to St Clement's Church at Wieliczka. The image of Mary, fuli of poetic lyricism, is akin to Nazarene painting, and especially to the works of the Austrian Joseph Fuhrich. It reveals Lenartowicz's mastery in handling the relief sculpture techniąue and, exhibiting a strong connection with his other creations, permits a better acąuaintance with the sculptural work of this remarkable artist.więcej o Teofil Lenartowicz's Madonna at Wieliczka
Józef Mehoffer's Strange Garden. Two Aspects of Visual Structure
Marta Smolińska-Byczuk, Instytut Historii Sztuki, Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza, al. Niepodległości 4, 61-874 Poznań
The Strange Garden (1902-1903), one of Józef Mehoffer's best-known works, has not ceased to puzzle and prompt reflection. The studies on the canvas made thus far accentuate above all the discernible optimistic, "sunny" and cheerful aspects of the composition, related with the artist's family happiness. Agnieszka Morawińska defined the picture as a reflection of the enclosed garden, the hortus deliciarum, to which, according to the medieval notion, time, grief, worries, and forebodings have no access. Anna Zeńczak, following the track of Gilbert Durand's anthropological investigations, considered the structure of the Strange Garden as the proof corroborating the mystical kind of Mehoffer's imagination. In Zeńczaks opinion the painter, in a state of euphoria, transposed onto canvas the feeling of family happiness. Ewa Micke-Broniarek in turn located the painting close to the tradition of reflecting the lost earthly paradise and the Arcadian land in which time has been arrested together with its inexorable progression towards old age and death. Furthermore, the above-mentioned researchers discerned the predatory appearance of the dragonfly, legible in the mode of its depiction, but they disregarded this observation, dismissing it with the artisfs own commentary in which the insect had been described as a symbol of the sun. However, there is a conspicuous discrepancy between one-sided interpretations of the Strange Garden and its pictorial peculiarities, obvious to a persevering viewer, which induces him to suspend the present knowledge of the canvas and attempt to verify the hitherto advanced theses and determinations. The composition represents three figures in an orchard bathed in sunshine. Nevertheless, this is not an ordinary orchard - stretched across the tree trunks are finely woven garlands of flowers, while above the three persons hangs poised a huge dragonfly with golden wings.
The way of hanging up the garlands on the apple trees sets the principal direction in the painting, concurrent with the ascending diagonal of the picture. This slanting direction organizes the structure of the composition, is a reference point for its particular elements, and enhances the impression of the inevitable movement towards the upper right-hand corner of the picture piane. Owing to such an organization two temporal - present and futurę - aspects are outlined in the painting, which are mutually complementary and legible also in the poses of individual figures and in their relations with the background. The woman in a sapphire-blue dress is reaching for an apple at this particular moment, but at the same time her gesture refers to that of the biblical Eve, thereby presaging the future, referring to what is going to happen. Similar ambiguities, appearing in the composition and emphatically exhibited, suggest that the message of the painting can be read only when in the course of its viewing both temporal aspects - transitory and universal - are taken into consideration.
The presence of a more than life-sized dragonfly, which forms the keystone or bridge between the picture's surface and its space, turns our attention to a different order here, elusive, mysterious, and disturbing, in its atmosphere so unlike the idyllic scenę laid in the present. The existence of a sphere connected with the passing, transient naturę of happiness is additionally confirmed by the differentiation of the boughs of the apple trees - in the upper right-hand corner leafless, dramatically twisted and withering. The role of the girl in a folk costume is to make the viewer reflect on the fact that the joy at the present moment is overshadowed by the consciousness of the ephemeral naturę of happiness and the untraversability of the established order of existence. The beholder, granted a privileged position, encompasses the entire picture piane, this enabling him to discern, together with the figurę dressed in a folk costume, the existence of the second aspect of reality, to read the dual structure of the composition, spanning the joy of the moment and the inevitable progression towards the mysterious, disąuieting depth of the garden, fuli of leafless branches. It is impossible to determine which aspect of the pictorial structure dominates in the composition - the one connected with the joyous Now or that which is uncertain, unknown, pertaining to the Future. Each of these aspects leads to different meanings, each tells of a different variant of reality. Individual elements of the composition contain the theme of enjoyment of life as well as the presentiment of its end, both inscribed in a peculiar mode of their depiction. Neither of the above-mentioned aspects gains the upper hand here. They are intertwined with each other to form a kind of undecidability, combining in its essence two messages that ensure the telling of the truth about human existence, without deciding which aspect is dominant.
Thus the artisfs own commentary concerned only one facet of the Strange Garden, while the other was passed over in silence. Nevertheless, the composition of the canvas, the space-surface tensions inscribed in it, and the relations between particular elements as well as their relation to the topography of the picture area do not allow us to ignore the second significative aspect, associated with the uncertainties of one's fate, lying heavy - like one's doom - on even the most joyous moment. The researchers who have thus far written about the Strange Garden are therefore mistaken in their belief that time and its inexorable flow towards decline, old age, and death have no access to Mehoffer's composition. The two aspects of the visual structure, one set in time and the other timeless, one sunny and the other dark, are interwoven in an inextricable whole; they are mutually complementary, telling the story of happiness and of the awareness of transitoriness, which has accompanied man sińce time immemorial.więcej o Józef Mehoffer's Strange Garden. Two Aspects of Visual Structure
The Young Artists and Scientists' Club (1947-1949). Discussions and Polemics Concerning a New Model of Modern Art
Małgorzata Kurzac, Instytut Historii Sztuki, Uniwersytet Jagielloński, ul. Grodzka 53, 31-001 Kraków
The aim of the present paper is a survey of the problems concerning Polish art over a few postwar years, as reflected in the activity of the Young Artists and Scientists' Club, which existed in Warsaw from 1947 to 1949.
The most salient feature of the artistic life of that time was its breakup into numerous currents. The artists decimated and the creative milieus disrupted during the war were in a natural way replaced by the young generation who contributed their own proposals concerning art. Thus three tendencies coexisted in the Polish art of that period, being reflected in the division of the artistic scene into three formations in conflict with one another. Each in its programmatic pronouncements tried to assume an attitude towards the new sociopolitical situation and win support of the state, the sole art patron then. There was a predominance of colouristic painting, which referred to the prewar experience of such groups as "Jednoróg", "Pryzmat", and the Kapiści group (so-called Komitet Paryski). Much less vigorous were the groups representing avant-garde tendencies (so-called Nowocześni) and the traditionalists who referred to nineteenth-century realism.
In view of various options, the controversies over a new model of creative work acquired exceptional importance in the country's intellectual life. The discussers generally emphasized the need for the comprehensibility of art to a new, mass public; the most important ąuestion concerned.the way of reducing a glaring disproportion between the state of the society's artistic consciousness and the art offered by creative circles. Two proposals were advanced - each assuming the possibility of developing a homogeneous and universal culture — that amounted either to educating the public, that is, bringing the masses up to the standard of modern art, or to educating an artist, which would mean his stooping to the most primitive tastes of a mass viewer. Furthermore, in the course of those discussions there emerged the problematic slogan of "realism", an imprecise but very capacious idea.
The Young Artists and Scientists' Club (KMAiN), too, seeing the necessity to determine its standpoint concerning art in the new, postwar reality and to specify the functions that it was to fulfil, joined the discussion. Declaring for the so-called modern art both in the artistic sense and in that of popularizing new creative ideas, the Club played a significant role. Its theoretical activity was an extremely important aspect of its work. It made possible the realization of an idea underlying the Club's functioning - to create a lively art-debating milieu that would permit the attitudes of various creative groups: visual artists, writers, and actors, to be freely brought face to face. In these considerations and discussions the same problems were taken up that gave rise to a heated public debatę in the contemporary press on the models and role of new, postwar art. However, sharp differences of opinion were revealed between the Club's artists and literary men, concerning, among other things, subject matter, freedom of formal expression, and the choice and topicality of the models drawn from cultural tradition. While the artists, rejecting an illusion of representation, stood for entirely new forms of art, which would express the ongoing changes in the surrounding reality, the writers proposed a realistic and expressive model of art. In literaturę this was indeed a new quality, but when transferred to the visual arts it turned out to be anachronistic and impossible to accept by the milieu connected with avant-garde art. In addition, although young artists accepted the statements about the dialectical development of history which imposed various conditions on all human activities (including artistic creation), they did not at all consider it necessary to relinquish their creative independence. Unlike the writers they claimed that art must not succumb to the pressure of the criteria of generał comprehensibility or suspend experimentation in its form or content, as this would mean the end of its free development.
This would endanger its autonomy and threaten to involve it in the mechanisms of propaganda and power. A particular opportunity for a broad exchange of opinions was offered by discussions that accompanied the opening of each exhibition of the Club. They attracted members of all sections, the invited guests, and the generał public. The Club, functioning as an open institution, announced its meetings by notices in newspapers and by posters, so everyone interested could take part in the discussions freely and gratis; the organizers intended thereby to protect them from being unnecessarily exclusive. It was aiready during the first discussion about painting that a number of the most essential problems of the time were brought up. S. Wegner opened it with a paper entitled Fine Art Must Justify Its Existence, which dealt with the relations between experimental ąuests in painting and commercial art and architecture. It was followed by discussions concerning a controversy on art and its social reception (this discussion was preceded by W. Strzemiński reading of some extracts from his Theory of Vision) commercial art issues (W. Jastrzębowskie paper); the ąuestions of pictorial content and form (M. Bogusz's paper); the problem of the ideological commitment of present-day art (introduction by T. Borowski); and the issues of modern architecture (J. Sołtahs paper). The Club discussions on painting attest above all to a deep commitment of this circle to the matters connected with the situation of the modern current in Polish art. They reveal the then felt common need for providing an optimum formuła that would be sufficiently flexible to reconcile a wide rangę of issues to be considered, such as modern form, realism, presence of subject matter, reference to reality, utility of art and its independence, dialectical development of art, and the category of a mass viewer. The example of the Young Artists and Scientists' Club - an independent centrę, assisting avant-garde creators in undertaking common, organized activities - indicates that in the postwar reality only a joint effort could contribute to a gradual normalization of the situation in Polish art and, first and foremost, that it was the only possibility, the only chance of forcing through or at least presenting some new values, new solutions in contemporary art, which were advocated particularly by the youngest generation of budding artists.więcej o The Young Artists and Scientists' Club (1947-1949). Discussions and Polemics Concerning a New Model of Modern Art