Małgorzata Sears - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Małgorzata Sears

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Małgorzata Sears

PhD student; Associate Lecturer

Thesis: The Warsaw Group Rytm (1922-32) and Modernist Classicism

Supervised by Gavin Parkinson

Funded by Courtauld Scholarship (The Edward Said scholarship)

Rytm was an artistic group which was active in Warsaw, Poland, between 1922 and 1932. It comprised of twenty seven artists of similar age, although not all of them joined the group at the same time. The classicising character of the artwork produced by the members of Rytm provides material for considering Polish art of the interwar period in the context of the classicising tendencies in Western European art of the time, in art-historical literature sometimes referred to as the New Classicism. The nature of the relationship between the classicising tendencies of Rytm and the Return to Order in Western Europe is one of the leading questions behind my research.

The variety of the approaches to New Classicism evident in the past exhibitions devoted to the subject shows that artists’ decisions to embrace the classical motif evade a common description, shifting between conservative and progressive attitudes, along with being motivated by commercial, ideological or simply practical reasons. This seems to render the term ‘New Classicism’ blurred; rather than describing a particular ‘school’, it seems to refer to an artistic tendency affecting various ‘schools’, avant-garde as well as more traditional ones.

Where does Rytm position itself in this pattern? In an environment somewhat delayed in the reception of the Western avant-gardes, such as interwar Warsaw, the policy of reaching for approachable subjects is likely to have resulted from slightly different preoccupations than those of the artists firmly rooted in Western Europe, where the avant-garde was well established. I trace the sources of the classicising tendency in the artwork produced by Rytm to its members’ sojourns in Paris before the Great War, and examine the ways in which their classicising style became subsequently embraced and promoted by the newly reinstated Polish state. The juxtaposition of the Parisian artistic context with the local Polish one allows examining how the various functions of ‘classicism’ shifted in translation.


  • PhD (candidate) Art History, The Courtauld Institute of Art
    • ‘The Warsaw Group Rytm 1922-32 and The New Classicism’, supervised by Dr Gavin Parkinson
  • MA Art History, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2010
    • ‘Between Reason and History: Wladyslaw Strzeminski’s Series of Collages To My Friends the Jews’ (distinction), supervised by Dr Shulamith Behr
  • Graduate Diploma in History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2008
  • BA Fine Art, University College Falmouth, Cornwall, 2007


  • 2015, Courtauld Institute of Art
    • BA2 Writing French Modernism
  • 2014, September – November, Courtauld Institute of Art
    • MA Methodologies Course, Discussion classes
  • 2014, 24 April – 12 May, Courtauld Institute of Art
    • BA yr. 1 Foundations Course, Teaching Assistant, Block 9 – The Global Contemporary (Dr Wenny Teo)
  • 2014, 3 March – 24 April, Courtauld Institute of Art
    • BA yr. 1 Foundations Course, Teaching Assistant, Block 8 – Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Art (Dr Gavin Parkinson)
  • 2013, September – November, Courtauld Institute of Art
    • MA Methodologies Course, Discussion classes

Research interests

  • ‘New Classicism’ and the framing of 20th-century artistic revisionism in art historical discourse
  • Early 20th-century approaches to the dichotomy craft/fine art
  • Early 20th-century theories of artistic modernism

Conference papers and lectures

  • 2014, 6 March, Courtauld Institute of Art, Annual Postgraduate Symposium. Decorative Folklore of Zofia Stryjeńska.
  • 2013, 22 April, Courtauld Institute of Art, Research Forum Event. Eastern Classicisms: The Warsaw Group ‘Rytm’ and the New Classicism, 1922-32.

Other academic activities

  • 2012  Młoda Polska (The Young Poland), the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage programme
  • 2007  The Ferdynand Zweig Memorial Scholarship

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