Known/Unknown Konstanty Laszczka

Konstanty Laszczka (1865–1956) seems to have been less famous than his contemporary Young Poland artists, with many of whom he befriended and portrayed in his works. Was his style not original enough? Experts mention the strong influence of August Rodin on the sculptures by Laszczka, who – during his studies in Paris – became fascinated by the work of this artist. Similar to Rodin, in the Young Poland period, he used the specific technique of non finito, leaving the sculpture as if it was “unfinished”. This technique adds dynamism and introduces anxiety, so typical of the art at the turn of the 20th century. We can search for other meanings and see how this artistic technique affects us by taking a close look at the bust of Feliks Jasieński created in 1902, presented on our website.
The titles of the works by Konstanty Laszczka created in that period already provide us with a picture of the creative atmosphere at the time: Opuszczony [Abandoned] (1896), W nieskończoność [In the Infinite] (1896/1897), Niewolnica [Slave Woman] (ca. 1900), Żal [Pity] (1901), Zrozpaczona [In Despair] (1902, compared and deceptively similar to Danaid by A. Rodin from 1884), Nostalgia [Nostalgy] (1903). Both the themes and the form are dominated by sorrow, the sense of isolation and alienation, the atmosphere of decadence. Laszczka often sculpted hunched, desperate figures symbolically imprisoned in a confining block.

Konstanty Laszczka in the workshop at the Academy
of Fine Arts in Kraków. December 1933.
National Digital Archives
signature No. 1-N-3152-11.

The artist also left over 100 busts, created in a less dramatic manner. One example is the sculpture representing Maria Sobańska, with a gentle and Secessionist line of modelling, presented on our website. In this manner, Laszczka also depicted numerous representatives of the world of art at the time: Leon Wyczółkowski (the amusing caricature portrait which can be seen in the National Museum in Kraków); the already-mentioned Feliks Jasieński, presented on our website; Julian Fałat, Zenon Przesmycki-Miriam, Ferdynand Ruszczyc and Stanisław Wyspiański, with whom he befriended and shared similar views on art. He was often portrayed by them. Laszczka was also engaged in paintings, ceramics and monumental sculptures; in most cases, the latter did not survive the war. The preserved sculpture, Avenging Angel, from 1910, created to commemorate the Kraków revolution of 1846, can be seen at the Rakowicki Cemetery in Kraków. Nonetheless, he was primarily an educator and an activist supporting the development of artistic life in Poland, a teacher of such artists like Xawery Dunikowski, Bolesław Biegas and Henryk Hochman, presented on our website. For more than 30 years (1900–1935) he was the head of the Department of Sculpture at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts. He was also one of the founders of the Towarzystwo Artystów Polskich “Sztuka” [“Art” Society of Polish Artists] and member of many art associations.

It is worth visiting the Gallery of 20th Century Polish Art in the Main Building of the National Museum in Kraków to spend a moment with the works by an artist who is not well-known, yet one of the most interesting sculptors of the Young Poland period.

Elaborated by Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

Sculpture “Feliks Jasieński’s bust” by Konstanty Laszczka
Sculpture Maria Sobańska’s bust by Konstanty Laszczka
Sculpture ”Portrait Study” by Henryk Hochman