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The sculpture represents a figure of a sitting woman depicted from the waist upwards. The woman is holding binoculars and slightly leaning out of the theatre box, assumedly to take a better look of the details of the artistic event in which she is participating. There is a satisfaction, or even reverie visible on her face. Is it because of the play?

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The sculpture represents a figure of a sitting woman depicted from the waist upwards. The woman is holding binoculars and slightly leaning out of the theatre box, assumedly to take a better look of the details of the artistic event in which she is participating. There is a satisfaction, or even reverie visible on her face. Is it because of the play? The artistic experience? Or maybe this nameless figure from the work by Luna Drexler spotted someone dear to her heart among the audience. We do not know, we can only guess. The sculptor from Lviv — like many other contemporary artists — was influenced by August Rodin, the work of whom she familiarised herself in Paris. She concentrated on the expression of spiritual experiences of the sculpted figure.

Elaborated by the editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums,
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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Luna Amalia Drexler

The sculpture In the Theatre Box invites us to the world created by its author, to her contemporaneous “here and now”; it arouses our curiosity. We want to know what the portrayed woman is involved in, what makes her look so dreamy, who she is looking at, and why she has put down her opera glasses. Who is she? Where is she? In the theatre, in the opera? We shall never know. The sculpture probably dates from 1909, and was created by Luna Amalia Drexler, whose background is not covered by contemporary studies.

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The sculpture In the Theatre Box invites us to the world created by its author, to her contemporaneous “here and now”; it arouses our curiosity. We want to know what the portrayed woman is involved in, what makes her look so dreamy, who she is looking at, and why she has put down her opera glasses. Who is she? Where is she? In the theatre, in the opera? We shall never know. The sculpture probably dates from 1909, and was created by Luna Amalia Drexler, whose background is not covered by contemporary studies.
How did the sculpture of a pre-war Lviv artist turn up in the Chrzanów museum? Bits of information are slowly starting to come together. Luna was born in Lviv in 1882, to an affluent merchant family. At the age of 17, she joined Marcel Harasimowicz’s private art school in Lviv (initially founded in 1888 as a school of painting for women, later transformed into a general school of painting and sculpture). She studied painting with Tadeusz Kaczor-Batowski and sculpture with Antoni Popiel. As early as 1906, she took part in a collective exhibition in Lviv. Then, like many young artists of that time, she continued her education abroad. First in Munich, then in Emil Bourdelle’s studio in Paris, where she stayed — on and off — from 1907 to 1910. There, of course, she came across the work of Auguste Rodin, which had a great influence on many sculptors of that time, including herself, as can be seen in her departure from naturalism and focus on reflecting the inner experiences of the carved figures. Was it then that our dreamy lady was captured in a fleeting moment of sensation known only to Luna Drexler?

The weddding of Irena Drexler and Mieczysław Chwastowski, Lviv 1911 (1914?). On the left of the bride  Luna Amalia Drexler, arch. The Irena and Mieczysław Mazaraki Museum in Chrzanów.

After Paris, she studied briefly in Rome at the Medici Academy, to return to the Munich Academy of Fine Arts in 1910. There, she made the acquaintance of Rudolf Steiner, a philosopher, playwright, architect, and sculptor, who would influence the rest of her life. She became his student and an avid propagator of the anthroposophic movement created by Steiner (philosophical and religious orientation of an esoteric nature, which contributed to the creation of, among others, Waldorf pedagogy). During the World War I, she worked as a sculptress on the construction of the famous Goetheanum (a monumental building, the anthroposophic movement centre) in Dornach, near Basel in Switzerland. Supposedly, Luna’s character in Steiner’s mystery plays was inspired by her person. Having already returned to her country, she worked hard on the development of the anthroposophic movement in Poland, which — in 1925 — after the death of Steiner, whose grand funeral in Dornach she took part in, led to the establishment of the Polish Anthroposophical Society in 1929.
After returning to Poland in 1918, Luna Amalia Drexler became actively involved in the reconstruction of the already independent country. She participated both in the artistic and social life of the Second Polish Republic. She was one of the founders of the Association of Polish Artists, a founding member of the “Rzeźba” [“Sculpture”] Association, a member of the Association of Polish Artists and Designers, and Lviv City Council. At the same time, she participated in numerous exhibitions and competitions, such as the one for the monument of Maria Konopnicka, which she won. Unfortunately, due to her untimely death in 1933, the project was not realised; however, the poet’s bust made by Luna Drexler was placed on Konopnicka’s grave at Łyczakowski cemetery. In that very place, in its separate part, called the Cemetery of the Defenders of Lviv, in the chapel of the Lwów Eaglets, you can see her sculpture titled Madonna and Infant Jesus. Nearby, at number 48, is her own grave, with one of the artist’s bas-reliefs, Flying angel holding a cross with seven roses placed on it. The names of selected religious art works by Drexler were engraved around: Saint George, Archangel Michael, Jair’s daughter, Sermon, Madonna with angels, Holy family in the temple, Christ and Magdalene, Grail Legend.
The works which Luna Amalia Drexler left behind included around 200 sculptures and several dozen paintings, including monuments, busts, numerous portrait studies, religious and mystical art works. A posthumous exhibition of Luna Drexler was organized in Lviv a year after her death. Another, and  probably the only exhibition devoted to the artist’s work thus far, was held in 1978, organized by the Association of Art Historians in Kraków and Museum in Chrzanów, whose collection contains the sculpture In the Theatre Box.
It is no coincidence that the achievements of the somewhat forgotten, yet universally acclaimed pre-war artist were presented in Chrzanów. Luna Amalia Drexler was personally associated with that city. In the picture presented above, we can see the sculptress at the wedding of her sister — Irena Drexler, whose beloved was the engineer Mieczysław Chwastowski from Chrzanów, an uncle and godfather of the founder of the Museum in Chrzanów, M.Sc. Mieczysław Mazaraki. Hence, Luna used to visit Chrzanów for family reasons. After Luna’s death, her brother-in-law started to collect the artist’s works and some of them can still be seen in Chrzanów museum.

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.

Bibliography:
Wiktoria Hadyś-Pęczkowska, Wstęp, [in:] Luna Drexlerówna. Rzeźba. Malarstwo, katalog wystawy, Kraków–Chrzanów 1978;
Wiktoria Hadyś, Moja sentymentalna wycieczka do Lwowa, „Kronika Chrzanowska”, nr 161 (2010), p. 10–11;
Ignacy Trybowski, Luna Amalia Drexler, [in:] Słownik artystów polskich i obcych w Polsce działających, t. II, red. Jolanta Maurin-Białostocka, Wrocław–Warszawa–Kraków–Gdańsk 1975.

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Sculpture “In the Theatre Box” by Luna Amalia Drexler

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