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The present self-portrait, made of patinated bronze, shows the bust of the artist. Although the form of the sculpture is synthesized, the image is strikingly realistic: the sculptor managed to capture not only his appearance, but also the characteristic look in his eyes and tension of the facial muscles. The texture of the portrait is diverse.

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The present self-portrait, made of patinated bronze, shows the bust of the artist. Although the form of the sculpture is synthesized, the image is strikingly realistic: the sculptor managed to capture not only his appearance, but also the characteristic look in his eyes and tension of the facial muscles. The texture of the portrait is diverse. The arms and torso are coarse and only roughly copied, while the artist’s face is more detailed, precisely carved and has a shiny texture. Laszczka also applied an interesting colour effect: the clothes are covered with a greenish patina, while the head is kept in the natural, red-brown hue of the alloy. In this way, the sculptor was able to achieve an extraordinary effect: even though both parts are made of the same material, they give the impression of a realistic differentiation between the dimness of the sculptor’s apron and the smoothness of human skin.
A wooden self-portrait of Laszczka, that belongs to the Kraków Society of Friends of Fine Arts, dates back to the same year.
Laszczka’s style is mainly inspired by the sculpture of Auguste Rodin: his work combines the features of Impressionism and Art Nouveau. The sculptor also sought inspiration in Polish folklore. His works are mostly portrait studies; he has also made dozens of monument designs, created medals, plaques and reliefs. Laszczka’s sculptures were made of wood, clay and bronze. The artist also dealt with ceramics. In 1920, he founded his own ceramic workshop in Kraków, where he produced various kinds of decorative items.

Elaborated by Adam Spodaryk (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums),
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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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?

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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.

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

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Self-portraits and “selfie” fashion ... The puzzle of the self-portrait

Currently, there is a fashion for self-portraits, popularly called selfies. Anyone can take them — using not even a camera — just a telephone. There is a narcissistic craving in us to show and see our own images. Once, creating a self-portrait was a process. Self-portraiture created the possibility of immortalising one’s image, while fulfilling the function of a tool of self-knowledge and self-reflection.

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Currently, there is a fashion for self-portraits, popularly called selfies. Anyone can take them — using not even a camera — just a telephone. There is a narcissistic craving in us to show and see our own images. Once, creating a self-portrait was a process. Self-portraiture created the possibility of immortalising one’s image, while fulfilling the function of a tool of self-knowledge and self-reflection. This served to explore one’s “I”, to encode information about oneself or play some kind of game with convention … to hide behind an image (Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz). This took various forms. An example of a multiple self-portrait is the painting by Pola Dwurnik: Mercy!. Out of the crowd outlined in the background, twenty-four images of the artist emerge; she is in a different mood and mental state in each.
The earliest known self-portrait was probably created in Egypt, around 2650 BC (Ni-ankh-Ptah). Self-portraiture was a rare phenomenon in antiquity (the self-portrait of Phidias, on the shield of Athena Parthenos, in the Parthenon in Athens). The Middle Ages saw the creation of idealized self-portraits; the author often painted himself as an individual assisting in a religious scene. An independent self-portrait appeared in the Renaissance as a result of raising the artist’s prestige and increasing the role of human individuality. According to the humanism of the Renaissance, the artist had become someone special, which is why artists often painted themselves turned towards the viewer (e.g. Albrecht Dürer).
Many artists painted self-portraits almost all their lives, thus creating cycles of their likenesses, including, among others, Olga Boznańska and Stanisław Wyspiański. In the case of Olga Boznańska, self-portraits are not only a reflection of the passage of time, but also the changing personality of the artist. The self-portrait of Józef Mehoffer is a faithful record of mood and moment; it reflects the intimate nature of the situation. One can even have the impression that it has the form of a sketch. Julian Fałat chose an unusual form of self-portrait; by blending his effigy into the Kraków panorama, Jan Matejko painted his self-portrait on a painting base in the shape of a circle.
Artists reveal themselves in a variety of different ways. It is typical to be presented at work, in a studio, or with family or friends (Stanisław Wyspiański with his wife). It also happens that they present themselves as historical, biblical, or mythological figures (Maurycy Gottlieb). The true master of this manner of self-presentation was Jacek Malczewski, author of the greatest number of self-portraits in the history of Polish art. Looking at them, it is hard not to suspect him of narcissism, but maybe this is just a sophisticated game with the viewer, a kind of planned show?
More self-portraits by Jacek Malczewski can be found in the following photo gallery: http://mnk.pl/fotogalerie/autoportrety-jacka-malczewskiego.

 

Elaborated by Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

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

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“For myself” by Konstanty Laszczka

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