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Jędrzej Wowro (Andrzej Wawro) was the most famous folk artist of the interwar period. He was born in 1864 in Gorzeń Dolny near Wadowice. He came from a poor family and was used to working hard from an early age. He carved his first figurines while neglecting his shepherding duties.


The Little Birds is a wooden sculpture, made of linden wood, polychromed, with a height of 17 cm, consisting of six connected elements. It presents figures of birds, symmetrically placed on the sides of a wooden stand and attached with wires, with the heads directed towards each other. At the centre point of the stand, two branches with the leaves turned upwards intersect each other. These branches are connected by a small nail, curved down in the back. The sculpture possesses real-life proportions, though designed to be viewed from the front, because it had previously been hung on the wall. The birds are characterised by great attention to proportion, but the scale between the birds' figures and the size of branches is disturbed. The composition of the sculpture is based on the principle of symmetry; it is static. This static character has been achieved by, among other techniques, balancing vertical and horizontal directions. A characteristic feature of the sculpture is the deep relief, especially visible on the birds' backs and in the wooden base.
Only the back part of the stand and the handle lacks polychrome. The dominant colours—dark green with elements of brown and golden—are subdued. The colour of the sculpture is applied carelessly and imprecisely (the paint spilt during its application, creating streaks). An unpainted base and areas with an excess of paint are visible. This demonstrates the artist's expressive style.
The sculpture has traces of dirt and small losses of paint coat. It comes from the interwar period; there is no information about its exact dating. It has not undergone any conservation procedures. It was donated to the museum as the gift of a private individual.
This exhibit is the only sculpture by Wowro in the collection of the Town Museum in Wadowice. It shows his characteristic, individual style. Thanks to this, at the exhibition, “Wadowice of Karol Wojtyła”, the figure of Wowro is mentioned, and also indirectly Emil Zegadłowicz, a writer of the interwar period and founder of the literary group “Czartak”, to whom Wowro owes his fame as the sculptor of saints—the vagabond of the Beskid mountains".
The sculpture can also be a starting point in the considerations of the pre-war fascination with the countryside and nature. Many examples referring to primitivism and folk can be found in the art of the interwar period. Wowro has been a creative inspiration for many artists, even after his death.

Jędrzej Wowro (Andrzej Wawro) was the most famous folk artist of the interwar period. He was born in 1864 in Gorzeń Dolny near Wadowice. He came from a poor family and was used to working hard from an early age. He carved his first figurines while neglecting his shepherding duties. Because his parents did not send him to school, he remained illiterate. He himself said that the pastures and the church were his school. He drew inspiration from Sunday sermons, the lives of saints read to him by his wife, and pilgrimages. Despite his hard life and search for work, Wowro continued his passion for sculpture. Often, his figurines of saints were placed on trees in roadside shrines. Because of poverty, he was also forced to sell his work. His natural talent was discovered and supported by Emil Zegadłowicz. Wowro's depictions of saints and woodcuts are today valuable monuments of folk art. His works are dominated by depictions of Christ; however, he often carved the Mother of God and saints as well. He surrounded his figurines with flowers and birds; he created a large collection of shrines and candlesticks; he carved birds in nests, on trees, branches, and on plinths. The artist died after a serious disease in 1937.
Wowro “Laughed [...] to his saints and birds”, finding great joy and sense of life in them. Wowro himself explained that the flowers began to grow and bloom when the Blessed Virgin was born, and later, after the death of Christ on the cross, "the whole world was covered with grass, flowers and birds singing".
A shrine with the inscription, “Jędrzej Wowro, a classic sculptor of saints”, which is modelled on his wooden sculptures, stands on the grave of Wowro. There is a figurine of the Pensive Christ and two angels, which are similar to those of Wowro’s candlesticks. The author of the tombstone is Franciszek Suknarowski.
Jędrzej Wowro was not only a creator of sculptures, but also of woodcuts, which he made at the prompting of Emil Zegadłowicz. As Anna Woźny from the Ethnographic Museum in Krakow writes: “The poet was delighted with his creation, it was also liked in his social circles; Wawro became popular and very appreciated. With a degree of exaggeration, during the interwar period, he was described as the best sculptor that Poland had ever had, alongside Veit Stoss and Dunikowski”.

Elaborated by City Museum in Wadowice, © all rights reserved


Sculpture “Birds” by Jędrzej Wowro


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