Artist Among the Ruins. Art in Poland of the 1940s and Surrealist Subtexts

Dorota Jarecka

Dorota Jarecka is an art historian specialising in modern and contemporary art in Poland, as well as a critic and director of Galeria Studio in Warsaw. She is the author of Erna Rosenstein. Mogę powtarzać tylko nieświadomie / I Can Repeat Only Unconsciously (with Barbara Piwowarska, 2014), Anda Rottenberg. Już trudno. Rozmawia Dorota Jarecka (2013), and co-editor of Ewa Zarzycka. Lata świetności / Ewa Zarzycka. Heyday (2015), Natalia LL. Doing Gender (2013), and Krystiana Robb-Narbutt. Rysunki, przedmioty, pracownia / Krystiana Robb-Narbutt: Drawings, Objects, Studio (2012). Between 1995 and 2012 she published regularly as an art critic in the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. The text that follows is a revised version of an essay first published as ‘Artysta na ruinach: Sztuka polska lat 40 i surrealistyczne konotacje’ in Miejsce: studia nad sztuką i architekturą polską XX I XXI wieku, issue 2 (2016). The essay offers a new framework for understanding art in Poland in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, focussing on developments in Kraków and Warsaw, which both showed a bias towards Surrealist forms and ideas. Surrealism appeared to provide a third way between aestheticism and the Socialist Realism that the newly-established Socialist state was soon to impose. Cultural ties with other countries in Europe had not yet been severed completely in the years 1945 to 1948, and the choice of Surrealism undoubtedly had political dimensions. Surrealists in France, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia were considered traitors by the Communist Party as early as the 1930s and stigmatised as ideological enemies. In aligning themselves with Surrealism, therefore, left-wing intellectuals were aware of its dissident position. The essay examines a series of photographs entitled The Magellan Heart (Serce Magellana) by Zbigniew Dłubak, from 1948, showing close-ups of plants, transformed by framing or solarisation, and titled after excerpts from the epic poem by Pablo Neruda ‘Canto General’. Jarecka reads these in relation to the writings of Kazimierz Wyka, at that time a young literary critic, who was the first to analyse the existential and economic situation of war-time Poland in colonial terms. She argues that Dłubak’s distant American world, falling prey to the conquistadors, is a metaphor for his own ‘here and now’. His photographs, she concludes, represent ‘life among the ruins’: the uncanny feeling of separation and fear after witnessing mass death and the extreme violence of war. (KKW)

Artist Among the Ruins. Art in Poland of the 1940s and Surrealist Subtexts

Dorota Jarecka


This essay is an attempt to view art in Poland of the 1940s of the immediate post-war period through the lens of Surrealism and the methodology that it inspired. There will be two levels of analysis weaving their way through the text. The first is the question of why and how the worldview of Surrealism as well as forms and techniques of Surrealist art were attractive in Poland in around 1948. The other relates to the contemporary language of art history, which owes a good deal to Surrealism. The history of art in question is one that goes beyond the terms of a discipline focussed on the style and form of representation, and is inspired by structuralism, anthropology, semiotics, psychoanalysis, and neo-Marxism. It was born, to cite Andrzej Turowski, ‘in an age of madness’, at the intersection of the ideas set in motion by Aby Warburg, on the one hand, and by the Surrealists (André Breton as well as Georges Bataille), on the other.[1]

A certain working hypothesis may be advanced: for artists in Poland, around 1948, the most attractive aspect of Surrealism was its approach to the picture. This approach made it possible to construct an idea of modernity as a third way, aside from the blind alleys of Socialist Realism and ‘Capism’ (Kapizm, a name derived from the ‘Parisian Committee’ founded by a group of Polish painters in 1923, a version of Post-Impressionism that developed into the 1930s and 1940s), which offered no further possibilities for development. Surrealism was translated into Polish as surrealizm or nadrealizm, the latter being comparable to the German Überrealismus.[2] Surrealism was understood in capacious terms at the time: not as a style, but as a worldview, a certain philosophy of life, and a specific view of painting, liberated from the duty to imitate nature, and geared towards the observation of an ‘inner model’. Its relationship to political orientation was interesting. Here we come to the most difficult question, for there is no way to extract the essence of pure politicality from a worldview that also includes views on painting. The position which interests me can be defined as left-wing, and may, though it does not have to, mean belonging to the Communist Party. Mieczysław Berman does not form part of my study because, despite being left-wing, his artistic position in the new political situation after 1945, did not go beyond reconstructing a pre-war model of engaged art. On the other hand, Zbigniew Dłubak, who was associated with the Polish Workers’ Party (PPR), sought to construct a new model of representation by way of his art, one based on the tradition of Surrealist art.

Such are the various dimensions interwoven throughout my text, anachronistic, perhaps, but consciously so. As Georges Didi-Huberman has shown, there is always a dose of anachronism in our interpretations, and our own projections are unavoidable: the only way to resolve this problem is to be aware of it oneself.[3] As I examine the artistic and textual formulations of the second half of the 1940s in Poland, I also take into consideration what could not be said, what was potentially there but was impossible to express due to censorship or self-censorship. I try to see what one could not say, but could ‘paint’, declaring artistic independence from the advance of Socialist Realism. I read the specific recourse to Surrealism as being more than a purely formal gesture: as a specific political gesture. The essay that follows is in part an outline of this issue, and in part an attempt to interpret particular works. It is also a first formulation of a project in progress, which elaborates on the art of the late 1940s in Poland in relation to Surrealism, Realism, and Marxism. Towards the end of the text I will propose a reading of a particular group of works produced in the circle of the Kraków and Warsaw ‘modernists’. My perspective derives from the creative development of ideas contained within Surrealism itself.


Attraction and Repulsion

More than forty years ago, the art historian Juliusz Starzyński ironically claimed that ‘Surrealism was never able to find an outlet in Poland’.[4] This does not just mean that there was none or that there was too little of it, but that it met with resistance. It is worth looking more closely at its reception, the interest in it, and the rejection it occasioned. In the Socialist-Realist period, for instance, Surrealism came to represent something along the lines of a part maudite. It became a reference point for artistic positions, a variety of ‘degenerate art’, an enemy which was indispensible for Socialist Realism to construct a positive image of art. According to Jan Kott, writing in 1950, Surrealism, as an ‘ideological weapon of imperialism’ was one of the most serious threats to collective Socialist culture at that time.[5] The author of the aforementioned claim, Starzyński, who was an active participant of the artistic field in the 1950s and sided with official cultural policy at that time, himself did a good deal to oppose Surrealism.[6]

It is worth excavating the individual stages of the acceptance or non-acceptance of Surrealism in post-war Poland. What determined these responses? How was it, for example, that a book published in 1969 could go so far as to mention the reasons for Breton’s departure from the French Communist Party? I refer here to the ground-breaking survey of the tendency in Poland, The Surrealist Worldview (Światopogląd surrealizmu) by Krystyna Janicka.[7] And why, later on, in the 1970s, was this no longer really possible, as shown in the two most important publications of that decade: Adam Ważyk’s edited anthology of Surrealist writings and Piotr Łukaszewicz’s monograph on the Artes group?[8]

The reception of Surrealism in Poland was undoubtedly connected by way of delicate, though strong, threads to actual events in political history, against the backdrop of the complex relationship of the Socialist state to the Western Left. There are two diachronic axes that the researcher has to take on board, and many points of intersection: the axis of the development of Surrealism, which embraced the conceptual and political evolution of the groups that gathered around André Breton, and the axis of political evolution in Poland after 1945, during different phases of which the components of the Surrealists’ worldview were viewed differently. The situation was immensely complex. The Surrealists themselves modified the reception of Surrealism. Louis Aragon erased his Surrealist ‘origins’ to assent to the Stalinist version of Communism in 1932. Later, Paul Éluard broke with the Surrealist group on the same grounds, and, after 1945, endorsed Stalinist policy in the Eastern bloc, where he was reintroduced as a representative of the engaged poetry of the Spanish Civil War and Resistance. After 1989, Poland was faced with a new scenario: the problem of addressing the legacy of Communism, Western Communism included. In these new circumstances, Aragon and Éluard all but disappeared from the literary horizon. There has been only one reprint of a single book by Aragon, Paris Peasant (Le paysan de Paris, first published in 1926), since, and only one new title, Irene’s Cunt (Le Con d’Irène), despite his having previously been one of the most popular French authors in Poland.[9] Likewise, only one volume of Éluard was published after 1989.[10] We are confronted with a whole set of about-turns, stiflings, and repressions. The contemporary scholar has to take this chaos on board and test which parts of it form the background of the Socialist era, which parts derive from the pre-war period, and which belong to today.

Is the fact that both popular and academic perceptions of Surrealism tend to foreground form a result of censorship and the cultural policy of the People’s Republic of Poland? This might mark a hangover of sorts from the Socialist era: one that goes unrecognised as it appears irrelevant and harmless, but also, perhaps, one that goes unnoticed because we are not sure how to address it.

The issue of the autonomy of the work of art in the Socialist period has been analysed on multiple occasions. In his 1999 book The Meanings of Modernism (Znaczenia modernizmu), Piotr Piotrowski proposed a binary model of perceiving the relationship between art and power, according to which the avant-garde and modernism play the part of polar opposites.[11] In this model, the avant-garde is characterised by engagement, and modernism by autonomy, by the attempt to rip the meaning of art apart from its immediate political context, and, perhaps somewhat complicating this schema, by the conscious exploitation of autonomy with the aim of achieving artistic freedom.[12] Surrealism played a double role in Piotrowski’s discourse: historical Surrealism was located on the side of the political avant-garde, but when the author referred to later usages of Surrealist language—such as, for instance, to the work of Erna Rosenstein—he placed it on the side of the modernism, despite the fact that Rosenstein’s art bore a truly political message, especially when seen in terms of the reworking of the memory of the Shoah as a form of engagement. Yet, two years after publishing The Meanings of ModernismPiotrowski published the essay ‘The Surrealist Interregnum’ (2001), devoted to the political dimension of Surrealist artistic manifestations after the Second World War in Central Europe. There, he identified Surrealism as being, in the first instance, a worldview, and only in the second instance a painterly phenomenon, confirming the thesis proposed by Krystyna Janicka’s ground-breaking publication that Surrealism was above all a worldview.[13] Piotrowski treated Surrealism as a means to understand the avant-garde in the region rather than as an essential historical notion. Andrzej Turowski’s book on Jerzy Kujawski, published in 2005, in turn, shed light on the connections of this important Polish painter with Breton’s group and with its new, post-war, anti-totalitarian variant.[14] Such publications have been the exception rather than the rule, however: art-historical literature in Poland has produced, whether inadvertently or deliberately, a situation in which, generally-speaking, ‘Surrealism is Formalism’.

The history of our unsuccessful relations with Surrealism can and should be linked to the history of Polish art history’s fraught relations with Marxism. In the Western hemisphere the reclamation of Surrealism (by authors such as Rosalind E. Krauss, Hal Foster, T. J. Demos and Michael Löwy) from among twentieth-century art ‘movements’, and the accentuation of its traumatic, erotic, and political aspects, was in part inspired by Marxism and neo-Marxism, spurred by a series of returns to the dissident spirit. In view of the complex relationship to Marxism in the Socialist period, an open interpretation of Surrealist positions was impossible in Poland before 1989, and the attitude to Surrealism was suffused with a particular ambivalence. Paradoxically, it was its Marxist heritage which appeared the most controversial. In stressing class struggle and relations between base and superstructure, official Marxism tended to overlook the issue of emancipation. ‘Trotskyism’ was considered a serious threat long after Lev Trotsky’s death, and every form of ‘revisionism’ was condemned. In ‘The Surrealist Interregnum’, Piotrowski reconstructed the apparently illogical position adopted by Mieczysław Porębski in 1948, when he declared in his introductory talk at the opening of the Exhibition of Modern Art (Wystawa Sztuki Nowoczesnej) in Kraków in December 1948, that the younger generation of artists ‘should reject Surrealism in the name of Socialist reality, while also advocating for modern art, which was, to a great extent, based on the tradition of Surrealism’.[15] Nevertheless, Porębski, a key figure in the Polish critical reception of Surrealism, was also to be one of the critics who expressed a profound understanding of the Surrealist approach to painting. He was faithful to Breton’s metaphor of the painting as a decalcomania for at least forty years, from his draft for the unpublished catalogue of the Exhibition of Modern Art in Kraków in 1948, to his 1980s publication Sztuka a informacja (Art and Information).[16]

Porębski was initiated into the essence of Surrealist revolt, and intuitively understood that Surrealism originated in the same impulse that had been a source for the emergence of Constructivism in Russia, that these were not radical opposites, but, on the contrary, that these positions were close to one another, connected by a ‘conviction as to the need for the self-annihilation of art’.[17] There is also a biographical basis for this propinquity: Surrealism, as event, had made an impression on Porębski’s life, a particular shock to the consciousness, a turning point.

In the late 1980s, he made a confession concerning the early encounter of the young artists in Kraków with Surrealism, during the war. He recalled in a conversation with Krystyna Czerni: ‘In this period [1943] an issue of La Révolution Surréaliste which we had discovered at the home of one of the Kraków artists made a great impression on me’.[18] He remembered that it had had a pink cover, and that the issue in question was from 1926; he also recalled a photograph with the subtitle ‘Our collaborator Benjamin Péret insulting a priest.’ He was referring to issue 8 of La Révolution Surréaliste of December 1926, dedicated to blasphemy and its representations. Two other images reproduced in this issue strike the contemporary reader: Max Ernst’s painting The Blessed Virgin Chastises the Infant Jesus Before Three Witnesses A.B, P.E., and the Painter, and a reproduction of a fragment of the painting The Profanation of the Host, by Paolo Uccello, which depicts a Jewish family having thrown the Host into the fire, and is accompanied by Antonin Artaud’s text ‘Uccello, the Hair’.[19] The picture from which the fragment reproduced in La Révolution Surréaliste had been clipped shows a blood legend: a Jewish family are struck by panic after the blasphemous act of burning the Host. Blood pours from the Host, lying in a pan. On the right side of this picture we see a regiment of the army bearing sickles and lances banging on the door. In one of the six paintings devoted to this event (originally predellas of a church altarpiece, now in a museum in Urbino) the blasphemers, together with small children, are burned at the stake. In the context of the year 1943, in occupied Poland, with the annihilation of Polish Jewry and the ambivalent position of the Church towards the Nazi persecution of Jews, images that connoted violence and blasphemy would have been read as highly provocative. The same issue also carried texts mocking religion and the church as well as texts devoted to the work of the Marquis de Sade (Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes’s ‘La Saison des bains de ciel’, and Paul Éluard’s ‘D. A. F. Sade, écrivain fantastique et révolutionaire’).

The relationship of these paintings and texts to the post-war work of Jerzy Nowosielski, whose drawings and paintings of the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s featured tortured women, remains an open question. In 1987, in a conversation with Krystyna Czerni, Nowosielski explained that he had first encountered Surrealism before the war, by way of a Ukrainian-language artistic almanac published in Lwów, admitting that ‘to this day I retain a great spiritual connection with all that Surrealism delivered’.[20] Nowosielski was a painter of Ukrainian origin who belonged to the circle of Porębski and Tadeusz Kantor in war-time Kraków. When the war broke out, in early September 1939, he moved to Lwów with his parents, but due to the Soviet invasion of Poland (17 September 1939) they escaped back to Kraków. There, he became a student of the German Arts and Crafts School (Kunstgewerbeschule), where he befriended Porębski. Between October 1942 and summer 1943 he was back in Lwów, where he was a novice monk at the Ukrainian Greek Catholic seminary and trained as a painter. As his biographer Krystyna Czerni remarked, he was a witness to the annihilation of the Lwów Ghetto. Czerni interprets the painting Cry (Krzyk), from 1943, in this context.[21] I suggest also reading the numerous images of tortured women that he produced at the turn of 1940s and 1950s in light of this.

oil painting of a woman hanging
Fig. 24.1 Jerzy Nowosielski, Execution (Egzekucja, 1949). Oil on canvas, 65 x 80 cm. National Museum, Kraków.
painting of men in suits some are upside down
Fig. 24.2 Andrzej Wróblewski, Surrealist Execution (Execution VIII) (Rozstrzelanie surrealistyczne (Rozstrzelanie VIII)), 1949. Oil on canvas, 130 x 199 cm. National Museum, Warsaw. Courtesy Andrzej Wróblewski Foundation.

The earliest dated scene of this kind is an untitled work on paper (1947, Grażyna Kulczyk Collection, Fig. 24.1), another is Execution (Egzekucja, 1949, National Museum in Kraków), followed by Beatrix Cenci (1950, Collection of Maria Potocka in Kraków). The theatricality of Nowosielski’s scenes is curious, the potential to call the viewer into being as a witness. One might pose the question of their relationship to Nowosielski’s wartime experiences, and not solely to the ‘politics of the body’ in the Socialist-Realist period, as Paweł Leszkowicz has done.[22] Having seen the photographs taken by German soldiers at the time of the July 1941 pogrom in Lwów, it is hard not to draw parallels. The photographer captured the delight of the lynching crowd: women are photographed in the most humiliating moments, undressed, beaten.

Andrzej Wróblewski’s Executions (Rozstrzelania) can also be viewed in light of Nowosielski’s Executions, especially his Surrealist Execution (Execution VIII) (Rozstrzelanie surrealistyczne (Rozstrzelanie VIII), 1949, National Museum in Warsaw, Fig. 24.2). Using the word ‘Surrealist’ in the title was a specific challenge to Polish cultural policy, a provocative signalling of difference: Surrealism against Socialist Realism. However, it might also have been an indication that the scene of death is played out at the intersection of the gazes of perpetrator, victim, and witness. The ironic undertone in the title of this painting (does the author suggest that death itself could be a ‘Surrealist’ experience?) should be understood as a refutation of heroic and nationalist readings of history rather than an expression of cynicism. Inverting values, art returns to Surrealist cruelty at a crisis point in culture. The artist is the one who inflicts violence in Hans Bellmer’s tangled female bodies, in Nowosielski’s drawings and in Wróblewski’s paintings.

It is not my intention to talk Surrealism’s way into Polish art. Evidence for the existence of Surrealism in Poland is weak, if only by comparison with how vibrant Surrealism was in the 1930s in Prague, where The Surrealist Group of Czechoslovakia was active. Toyen (Marie Čermínová) and Jindřich Heisler took part in the exhibition Le surréalisme en 1947 at Galerie Maeght in Paris, as did Jerzy Kujawski, and Poland is represented, alongside Czechoslovakia, among the countries listed in the exhibition catalogue. All the same, a modified version of the exhibition travelled to Prague in 1947, but not to Kraków.[23] Breton was in direct contact with Yugoslav Surrealists such as Marko Ristić, whom he met in Belgrade in 1926.[24] Surrealism was most intensely present in Romania in the years 1940 to 1947, when the Romanian Surrealist Group was active. It is worth citing Maria Hussakowska-Szyszko’s view that, in the pre-war period, ‘in truth, the achievements of Surrealism filtered into our culture in an anonymous manner’.[25] The pre-war group Artes (active in Lwów from 1929 to 1935) could not lay claim to belonging to this global network, and, as Piotr Słodkowski wrote, interest in Surrealism was already waning during the first phase of the group’s activities.[26] An analysis of the reception of Surrealism in the 1930s would necessitate a separate study, and so, without entering into the complexities of the period, let us try to look more closely at the artistic production of the second half of the 1940s with a view to potential associations.

Słodkowski has proved that it makes no sense to connect the spatial installation of the 1948 Exhibition of Modern Art in Kraków with Surrealist exhibitions, as there is no evidence that Kantor (one of the Kraków exhibition curators) saw the Surrealist exhibition at Galerie Maeght in Paris in 1947.[27] Two myths are refuted in one fell swoop: the first, that the important Kraków exhibition was influenced by Surrealism; the second, that the development of Polish art of the second half of the 1940s was directly dependent on Paris. Despite this refutation of myths, there remain further questions. One key question is the issue of what Hussakowska-Szyszko meant by ‘achievements’. If we try to forget about the somewhat traditional concepts of style, form, and artistic movement, the question of Surrealism begins to look rather different.

One fundamental question, often raised in the history of art, is unavoidable here: how exactly to approach Surrealism. In his article ‘On Ethnographic Surrealism’ (1981), James Clifford noted that, for Breton: ‘Surrealism was not a body of doctrines, or a definable idea, but an activity’.[28] In ‘The Photographic Conditions of Surrealism’ (1981), Rosalind Krauss proposed the category of linguistics for studying Surrealist photographs, and arrived at the conclusion that ‘what unites all surrealist production is … not a morphological coherence, but a semiological one’.[29] In Armor Fou (1991), and then in Compulsive Beauty (1993), Hal Foster presented Surrealism according to Freudian categories, as a traumatic reaction to the shock of the First World War.[30] In The Morning Star. Surrealism, Marxism, Anarchism, Situationism, Utopia, Michael Löwy (2009) foregrounded the ‘Marxist Romanticism’ of Surrealism, referring to political position-taking rather than to particular artistic formulations.[31]

Without deciding, for the time being, which of the contemporary recuperations of Surrealism provides the best angle for the study of art in Poland, one can only surmise that there are at least five: ethnographic, Marxist, Psychoanalytic, semiological and post-colonial. In the first, Surrealism is treated as the component of an ethnographic paradigm shift; in the second as a component of a Marxist utopia; the third powerful, recuperation of Surrealism takes place on psychoanalytic ground; the fourth treats Surrealism as a language, and asserts that the mechanism that it set in motion led in the longer term to changes in the language of art, which bore fruit in phenomena such as Conceptualism; the fifth, makes use of the aforementioned post-colonial reversal of perspectives. One has to admit that this is quite some legacy. Without choosing which of these is most useful, I will leave this toolbox open for the time being and turn to artistic production in Poland in the second half of the 1940s.



The exhibition Just After the War (Zaraz po wojnie) at Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, curated by Joanna Kordjak and Agnieszka Szewczyk in the autumn and winter of 2015, provided an interesting testing ground for these issues.[32] One of the rooms they curated was what I would like to call Surrealist. It housed works such as: Jerzy Skarżyński’s painting Portrait of an Inquisitor (Portret inkwizatora, 1947, National Museum in Kraków), Tadeusz Kantor’s drawing Figure and Construction (Postać i konstrukcja, 1949, National Museum in Poznań), works on paper by Jerzy Kujawski (1947, National Museum in Kraków), Marian Bogusz’s paintings Mr Brown Salutes Struggling Palestine (Mister Brown pozdrawia walczącą Palestynę, 1948, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź) and Five to Twelve in Nanking (Za pięć minut dwunasta w Nankinie, 1948, private collection). It also included photograms by Zbigniew Dłubak: I Suddenly Awake in the Night Thinking of the Far South (Budzę się nagle, myśląc o dalekim Południu), from the series The Magellan Heart (1948, National Museum in Warsaw), Daydreaming I (Zamyślenie I, 1948, National Museum in Warsaw) as well as an untitled work of 1947–1950 (Foundation of the Archaeology of Photography, Warsaw). An attempt to view these works in the context of Surrealism immediately takes us to the very heart of the most difficult question associated with this tendency: the problem of definition.

I will remain for a moment in the realm of free association ‘of the eye’, maybe illicit, but nonetheless present: Bogusz’s painting Five to Twelve in Nanking is strikingly similar to Joan Miró’s The Harlequin’s Carnival (1924–1925, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo), even in terms of colour, the distribution of forms across the picture space, their breaking up and the mimicry of a childlike painterly imagination; Kujawski’s decalcomanias refer to the technique discovered by Oscar Domínguez, and employed by Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy and others; Kantor’s compositions, Woman with Parasol (Kobieta z parasolką, 1948, National Museum in Warsaw) and Composition with Standing Figure (Kompozycja ze stojącą postacią, 1949, National Museum in Kraków) are similar to Roberto Matta’s work of the time. One might make yet more analogies between French Surrealism and other Polish works of the period, not included in the exhibition: Teresa Tyszkiewicz’s red ink drawing in the collections of Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź (1950) seems to have been inspired by Surrealist automatic writing; Janina Kraupe-Świderska’s autolithography Fear (Strach, 1949, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź) is reminiscent of the collages and drawings of Max Ernst; the photographs of Andrzej Strumiłło from the series Sails (Żagle, 1947, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź) refer to the photographic experiments of Man Ray, in which the use of smudging and blurring leads to a dissolution of the boundary between the biological and technical, the human and non-human. The inquiries into the nature of the image and the experiments in photography and book graphics conducted in the circle of the Club of Young Artists and Scientists (Klub Młodych Artystów i Naukowców) in Warsaw, are also worth considering in relation to Surrealism.[33] The book Romantic Gesture (Gest romantyczny, 1949) by Stanisław Marczak-Oborski, with photographs by Zbigniew Dłubak, may seem like a modest implementation of the Surrealist model, but it is one that remains clear, nevertheless.[34] The photographs interact with the text by way of surprise juxtapositions and in a similar manner to Jacques-André Boiffard’s photographs in André Breton’s novel Nadja (1928) or of those by Brassaï, Dora Maar, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Henri Cartier-Bresson in L’Amour fou, 1937.

Yet, besides the formal similarities to Surrealism there were also deeper connections. The draft for the unpublished catalogue of the ‘Exhibition of Modern Art’ in Pałac Sztuki in Kraków from 1948, preserved in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, took André Breton and his call to reject control over the painterly gesture as its main point of reference. Co-curator of the exhibition and co-editor (with Tadeusz Kantor) of the unpublished catalogue, Mieczysław Porębski, cited his writings:

Apply black gouache to a sheet of white, high sheen, paper with a thick brush, thinly in some parts, more thickly in others, and then immediately cover with another sheet and press down gently with the palm of your hand, slowly lift it off beginning with the upper edge of the top sheet as though making a print and repeat the applying and removing until the pages are nearly completely dry … to be sure that you have expressed yourself in the most personal and appropriate manner it suffices to give the image produced a title in accordance with whatever it is you see in it, after waiting a while.[35]

Porębski, the author of the texts for the catalogue, clearly considered these words of Breton’s to be key. He subsequently repeated them for many years. That which could not be published in 1948 remained a point of reference in his texts from the 1960s to the 1980s.[36] The idea that painting imitates a certain inner model rather than external or historical reality, emerging without the conscious participation of the artist, was at first a means of neutralising the ‘epistemological Realism’ imposed by the authorities from above. The Bretonian tendency, contextualised in different ways, returned in Mieczysław Porębski’s thinking on art later on, proving too constant, too enlivening for the construction of anti-mimetic thinking about the picture, to be ignored.

To sum up, then, even if we have to agree that the Exhibition of Modern Art had little in common in visual terms with the exhibitions organised by Breton and by Marcel Duchamp, or their spatial organisation by Frederic Kiesler, there existed some deeper affinity between the ideas of the Polish artists and the Surrealists. The lack of ‘influences’ convincingly demonstrated by Słodkowski, does not preclude the possibility of communication and the flow of ideas. The moment of political ‘heresy’ is extremely important. Where, if not in Surrealism, were young artists to embed their scenarios for the future of art in Poland? Post-Impressionist and Realist art seemed equally exhausted and uninteresting to them; they were looking for new means to express the specific historical moment in which they found themselves, the time after the horrendous shock of war, the extreme experiences of the Shoah. For the circles of young modern artists in Kraków and Warsaw, Surrealism—as a worldview and an attitude—provided a possible means to imagine a pathway to modern art in the years 1947 and 1948.

Besides Porębski, the other person involved in rethinking the Surrealist heritage was Zbigniew Dłubak. Dłubak (born in 1921) was a young painter and photographer from Warsaw, where he was active in the second half of the 1940s in the Club of Young Artists and Scientists. During the war, he was in the Communist underground army, in 1944 he was captured and send to Mauthausen concentration camp. Porębski’s trajectory had been similar: he was also born in 1921 and participated in the anti-Nazi conspiracy, for which he was imprisoned in Gross-Rosen and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. In a 1948 text published in the journal Świat Fotografii (The World of Photography), Dłubak also announced a third way. He wrote that the passage to modern art could only take place by way of bringing together the strands of the whole avant-garde: Constructivist, as well as Surrealist.[37] It seems that this may have also been a political decision at the time.

It is worth asking what sort of Surrealism Porębski and Dłubak encountered in 1948. It is crucial that Surrealism found itself at a particular historical point in its development at that time. The coup d’état of February 1948 in Prague had already occurred. Toyen and Jindřich Heisler had emigrated to France in 1947 and an attempt to resurrect the Surrealist movement in Czechoslovakia had already been quashed. There had also been a Communist coup in Bucharest, marking an end to avant-garde movements there. Was the tempestuous history of the relations between the Surrealist movement and the French Communist Party and the Comintern known to Polish intellectuals? We can assume that it was. Jerzy Kujawski was among the signatories of the Breton group’s anti-Stalinist manifesto ‘Inaugural Rupture’, published in June 1947 in Paris as a leaflet for the international movement Cause. Given the frequent contacts between the Kraków and Warsaw circles and artists living in Paris, we can assume that there was a flow of ideas. At this time––at the turn of 1947 and 1948––Erna Rosenstein was living in Paris, and visitors included Maria Jarema, Tadeusz Kantor, and Ewa Jurkiewicz. The Breton group’s manifesto was directed against the politicisation of art in the form proposed by the ideologues of the French Communist Party.[38] An intense debate around Surrealism was on-going in France, in which it was criticised, among others, by Jean-Paul Sartre, for the supposedly bourgeois nature of its rebellion. This was met with responses from Tristan Tzara and Breton, but a rift between former allies Tzara and Breton was also already afoot. Tzara was ready to reconcile Surrealism with Socialist Realism, but Breton defended the autonomy of artistic gestures as regards ideology. Another Polish connection was Bogusław Szwacz, who was in Paris on a Polish government scholarship from the end of 1947 to mid-1948 and was close to the Revolutionary Surrealist movement. The group, formed, among others, by Noël Arnaud and Christian Dotremont, was founded in February 1947 in Brussels and based on the connection of Surrealism with Communist ideology, declaring itself in opposition to Breton. Szwacz was therefore in the opposite camp of the Surrealists to Kujawski for a certain time.[39] To conclude: if the Communist Party had an enemy in the form of an artistic movement in the West, it was Breton’s Surrealism, against which the accusation of ‘Trotskyism’ was levelled with particular facility.[40] Referencing Breton in Poland was thus a political declaration, and this is probably the reason why the proposed version of the Kraków exhibition catalogue, with the citation from Breton, did not appear.

Breton’s branch of French Surrealism had been under fire from heavy-calibre departments of the Comintern since the 1930s. The first phases of this campaign took place in 1933, when Breton, Paul Éluard, René Crevel and others were removed from the French Communist Party and a pamphlet defaming them by Ilya Ehrenburg was published in Paris. In 1935, Breton was not permitted to speak at the Paris International Writers’ Congress for the Defence of Culture (Congrès international des écrivains pour la défense de la culture). He cemented a de facto alliance with Trotsky in 1938, while in Mexico, co-writing the manifesto ‘For a Free, Revolutionary Art’ (although it was Diego Rivera’s name that appeared beneath the text). That same year, in Prague, Vítězslav Nezval, a member of The Surrealist Group of Czechoslovakia, announced a lampoon on the Czech Surrealists and the dissolution of the Group, probably executing an order he had received from Moscow. The campaign call was undertaken by the Communist as well as the Fascist press of Prague: the Communist press accused the Surrealists of being ‘Fascist agents’, and the Fascist press accused them of propagating ‘degenerate art’.[41] The accusation of Trotskyism was bandied about without restraint and, after the war, was often levelled at modern art as a whole.

It is not surprising that references to Surrealism in 1940s Poland had to be accompanied by countless qualifications. Mieczysław Porębski was no exception in this respect. In 1946, he cautioned that in connecting various tendencies, modern art would have to make allowances for the ‘ravings of Surrealism’.[42] As Piotr Piotrowski noted, though, the discourse surrounding Surrealism was rather different to artistic practice itself, which was not subordinated to the same litany of restrictions, reservations and prohibitions.


Far-off Lands

Finally, I will consider Zbigniew Dłubak’s 1947–1948 photographs from the point of view of Surrealism understood as a third way and a creative method. His titled works from that period, such as the illustrations for ‘The Magellan Heart’ by Pablo Neruda, Children Dream of Birds (Dzieci śnią o ptakach), Torture of Starvation Haunts Us At Night (Nocami straszy męka głodu), and numerous untitled prints, negatives, and contact prints from the collection of the Foundation of the Archaeology of Photography, represent close-ups of un-identified fragments of plants, stones, sand, or bodies. Within them, proximity destroys the object, while rendering it extremely tactile and sensory. They are reminiscent of the opening lines of Breton’s ‘Surrealism and Painting’, according to which ‘the eye exists in its savage state’ and the ‘wild eye’ tears itself away from the body and is able to raise itself a hundred feet above the earth or see ‘the marvels of the sea a hundred feet deep’.[43] However, what matters in Surrealist photography, as Rosalind Krauss argued, is the process of seeing, and not only the vision of the Bretonian ‘marvellous’: a particular representational game. She wrote:

Surreality is, we could say, nature convulsed into a kind of writing. The special access that photography has to this experience is its privileged connection to the real … The photographs are not interpretations of reality, decoding it, as in Heartfield’s photomontages. They are presentations of that very reality as configured, or coded, or written. The experience of nature as sign, or nature as representation, comes “naturally” then to photography.[44]

abstract picture
Fig. 24.3 Zbigniew Dłubak, I Recall the Loneliness of the Strait (Przypominam samotność cieśniny, 1948). Black and white photograph. 30.2 x 40.2 cm. Illustration for Pablo Neruda’s poem The Magellan Heart. © Armelle Dłubak / Archaeology of Photography foundation, Warsaw.

The The Magellan Heart series occupies a special place among Dłubak’s photograms as a whole. Shown at the Exhibition of Modern Art in Kraków, in 1948, they broke away from the current model of photography in Poland, manifesting a shift from representing objects to an interest in representation itself. They are loosely connected to the Neruda poem. The interventions by the author into the images captured on camera were rather minimal: inversion, solarisation, and last but not least, titling. The meaning is produced through the interplay of text and image, which is especially interesting in The Magellan Heart series, when poetic titles bring us far from the here and now: I Suddenly Awake in the Night Thinking of the Far SouthI Recall the Solitude of the Strait (Przypominam samotność cieśniny, Fig. 24.3), The Discoverers Appear and of them Nothing Remains (Odkrywcy zjawiają się i nic z nich nie zosaje).[45] There is also a particular function to the reference to Neruda’s poem, since it was dedicated to the failed project of colonisation. Its title, The Magellan Heart, referred to the unhappy end of a Portuguese conquistador: killed on the Mactan Island in the Philippines and his body dissected. Translated into Polish and printed in the literary weekly Odrodzenie in 1948, Neruda’s verses and the romantic topic of an oversees voyage, meshed with the colonial oppression and cruelty that it inflicts, could have had double meaning. Neruda’s oneiric verses, narrating Magellan’s conquest, acquired new meaning in the context of early post-war Poland, which had recently experienced one of the most brutal of wars, in which military, economic, and cultural oppression went hand in hand with racial segregation. European culture had been questioned by the most outstanding authors in Poland at that time, among others, in the writings of Tadeusz Borowski, a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, in the years 1945 to 1947. In his pessimistic diagnosis, European ideas of humanism and progress had been stripped bare by the Nazi system of slave labour and the extermination of whole nations.[46] Culture as a whole had been called into question.

As James Clifford noted, the Surrealists proposed to take their own culture as an object of ethnographic study, particularly in the journal Documents.[47] What is important is the nature of this undoubtedly utopian calling; whether they succeeded in doing so or not is another matter. Thus, when an African or a Mexican mask appeared on the pages of La Revolution Surréaliste, and a reportage from a Paris slaughterhouse appeared in Documents, the point was to undermine a Eurocentric point of view: to show the strangeness at the very heart of one’s own culture. If a mask is both a bearer of beauty and of cultural violence, what are European artefacts? A shifting of meanings occurs with the revelation of familiarity as otherness, one’s own culture as an alien culture, the self as oppressor. Surrealism transformed ethnography, Clifford revealed, and without the participation of ethnographers it would itself have been incomplete.

I want to refer here to Polish literary scholar Kazimierz Wyka’s expression of a strong sense of the alien nature of his own, European culture, in his text Faust on the Ruins (Faust na ruinach), written the year after the war. Wyka debuted as a literary critic in the 1930s, and lived through the war in the small city of Krzeszowice near Kraków. After the liberation, he became the editor-in-chief of the literary monthly Twórczość, where, in 1945, he published the essay ‘Isolated economy’, which was to be crucial for what was much later called post-colonial discourse. There, he captured the way in which the post-war everyday ethics of Poles had been devastated by six years of Nazi economic and racial-segregation policies.[48] The essay on Faust focussed on the cultural aspects of colonisation.

The scene is Kraków, 1946: night, rain, autumn. Wyka’s narrative has a somewhat Surrealist mood: a lost car’s lights are reflected in the windows. The narrator is holding a worn copy of Faust marked ‘Der Stadthauptmann in Warschau. Deutsche Bücherei’. According to the reading-room label, it had last been borrowed on 17 June 1944. The author found it in the spring of 1945, amidst the ruins of Warsaw. We go straight to the heart of the ambivalence of culture. This is great German literature, but also a book belonging to an occupier, which ‘cannot simply be read as a copy of Faust’.[49] The essay is dreamlike, the narrator is unable to sleep, and he has nightmares, tormented by a vision that develops into a fantasy, followed by sounds, smells, and colours. The sound of a passing carriage splashing through the rain evokes an image of the atoll from an undetermined movie, and soon afterwards the image of a Tahitian young women from Gauguin’s painting Noa Noa. As Wyka explains, this means ‘very fragrant’.[50] One can say that the painting by Gauguin flows through the Kraków rain metaphorically like the haunting memory of slavery and subjugation. The next image that comes to his mind, from the darkness of the night, is Gauguin’s The Judgement of Paris, which, we read:

betrays in an embarrassing way, how Gauguin understood his position on the idyllic Tahitian islands. The goddesses subjected to this judgement are three naked Tahitian girls. An angel with wings judges them: not a Tahitian angel but an angel in the form of a young white male. Gauguin was not a cynical colonialist conqueror, and yet the hubris of the white man in relation to coloured peoples has rarely been expressed so eloquently in art.[51]

For Wyka the picture serves to construct an analogy between Gauguin’s excesses and the twentieth-century ethnographic expeditions, and goes on to develop into an argument condemning the atomic testing in the Marshall Islands in June 1946. Faust looms large here, too: the risky playing fast and loose with technological progress, which leads to disaster. But even this is ambivalent. Progress can also lead to salvation. And so, in parallel with the aporia conveyed by the figure of Gauguin, escapee and coloniser in one, Wyka referenced contemporary events such as the victory over Japan, at the expense of the ‘experiments’ on the Japanese.[52] Finally, there is another ambivalence that is addressed in this text by Wyka, namely the shift in geographical awareness brought about by the war.

In a small town in former Galicia and Lodomeria, fingers traced their way between the Don, and the Volga and Caucasus on an old atlas (produced by mapmakers Justus Perthes in Leipzig). Later they opened the map of Polynesia and Melanesia. The islands of Ysabel, Choiseul, Bougainville, Guadalcanal, always lie, for me, along the rivers Kubań, Terek, Manycz, and Kama.[53]

Wyka was writing about his virtual war-time travels, visiting the map as a means to trace the movements of armies. War is ambivalent: it sows destruction, but opens up the world, it is a pretext to travel, albeit a perverse one.

In light of Faust on the Ruins, let us now turn to Dłubak’s photograms with captions from Pablo Neruda’s ‘The Magellan Heart’, exhibited in 1948 at the Exhibition of Modern Art in Kraków. Dłubak’s choice of these verses entailed transferring the Warsaw of 1948 to the Strait of Magellan. The poem ‘The Magellan Heart’ now forms part of Neruda’s epic poem ‘Canto General’, written in the years 1939 to 1949.

As a member of the Communist Party persecuted in Chile after the coup d’état of 1947, Neruda was already of hero of the world behind the Iron Curtain by this point. In May 1948, Odrodzenie published several of his poems, translated by Czesław Miłosz, among them ‘The Magellan Heart’.[54] ‘Canto General’ was not yet finished at that point, and was only published in 1950, in Mexico. ‘The Magellan Heart’ became a fragment of Part Three, entitled ‘Conquistadors’. ‘Canto General’ is made up of fifteen parts. The beginning is the ‘genesis’ of South America, from the creation of mountains, rivers, animals, plants (‘I light the Earth’), then the history of the continent is developed, with the appearance of man (‘The Heights of Machu Picchu’) and of the European ‘Conquistadors’. The poem is full of cruelty: American land takes the form of a violated woman, flowing with blood. After Magellan, Neruda describes Cortez, Valdivia, Balboa and other conquistadores, obsessed with the vision of loot of American gold. European culture has very little to recommend it. This is the context for dreamlike or even erotic-sounding verses such as ‘I Suddenly Awake in the Night Thinking of the Far South’ or ‘I Recall the Solitude of the Strait’. These are episodes in a sea voyage over unknown waters. The poem is dark; it shows a path leading nowhere, seemingly to the discovery of the world, but also to death, iniquity, and violence. It is also the path of progress, curiosity, and knowledge: the path of Faust. Progress is ransomed by blood: these cannot be separated.

Three photographs, with added citations from Neruda, were shown at the Exhibition of Modern Art in Kraków in 1948: I Suddenly Awake in the Night Thinking of the Far South (Pablo Neruda, ‘The Magellan Heart’), I Recall the Solitude of the Strait (Pablo Neruda, ‘The Magellan Heart’) and The Discoverers Appear and of Them Nothing Remains (Pablo Neruda, ‘The Magellan Heart’). There is also a fourth work with a citation from Neruda—He Reaches the Pacific—but it was probably produced after the show, since it was not mentioned in the exhibition catalogue. The oneiric world, the micro-cosmos revealed in the photographs, is transformed when juxtaposed with the text, and becomes a sign of the depths of the unconscious, conceived of as being like leaving one’s own shores and that which is familiar, and entering into the depths of a foreign culture. There may also be associations with a journey into the depths of the body: the penetration of the organism by the eye, which sets off into the distance with the aim of knowing, and returns with material that it can neither represent nor comprehend. It comes back as a ‘barbarous’ eye, cast out of civilisation and unable to return to it.

There are interesting parallels between these extraordinary photograms and compositions by Marian Bogusz, such as Five to Twelve in NankingThe Paths of Whites Force their Way onto Black Shores (Drogi białych wdzierają się w Czarny Ląd, 1948, Muzeum Pomorza Środkowego, Słupsk), Mister Brown Salutes Struggling Palestine and Jerzy Nowosielski’s The Battle for Addis Ababa (Bitwa o Addis Abebę, 1947). The ambivalent, personal experience of witnessing the violence of the war lurks within the pictures, but also the sense of dislocation. In order to be able to speak of it, those who survived the war had to transplant images into another place, literally and geographically. And so, Dłubak organised a Surrealist expedition along the coast of the Tierra del Fuego, Bogusz visited Nanking and besieged Palestine. Krystyna Czerni has written that the almost abstract and seemingly-idyllic painting by Nowosielski, The Battle for Addis Ababa, a Coptic city destroyed at the time of the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, served as a metaphor for the destruction of Ukrainian villages during the so-called Operation Vistula (Wisła action) undertaken in 1947 by Polish authorities. Nowosielski’s protest against anti-Ukrainian policy was encrypted in his painting.[55] The war had not ended, but it had been transferred into the present, and into a past that revealed itself afresh in light of it. The same could be said of the painting Five to Twelve in Nanking by Bogusz. The massacre of Nanking was on-going, and the real subject of the painting only emerged in the work of interpretation. The massacre of the civilian population and prisoners of war by the Japanese army in Nanking in 1937 was one of the most atrocious crimes against a civilian population in the twentieth century, seen as prefiguring the German pogroms and mass killing of the Jewish population in East-Central Europe in 1941 to 1943. So, for Bogusz, Nanking could also have been Warsaw. The image itself appears calm, like a mask for the traumatic events.

Polish modern art of the late 1940s may not have shown war directly, but it touched on the problem of the violence of war by way of geographical transfer. If, as Michael Rothberg observes, Aimé Césaire equated colonialism with Nazi violence in his ‘Discourse on Colonialism’ of 1950, the work of Polish artists presented Nazi violence as colonial.[56] These codes seem decipherable in light of Surrealism. The question begging to be answered here, which should at least be signalled, is the problem of the representation of war and the Shoah in Polish art. By adopting an ethnographic perspective, one hears the echo of war in places where it may not, at first, have seemed to be represented. Surrealist techniques and positions, for their part, enable us to come closer to the most difficult of experiences. As Breton wrote in his ‘First Manifesto’: ‘Surrealism will usher you into death, which is a secret society. It will glove your hand, burying therein the profound M with which the word Memory begins’.[57]


Translated by Klara Kemp-Welch


[1] Andrzej Turowski, ‘Historia sztuki w dobie szaleństwa’, Konteksty. Polska Sztuka Ludowa, 2/3 (293/294) (2011): pp. 11–14.

[2] On the German adaptation of the word, see: Jan Bürger ‘“Paris brennt”. Iwan Golls “Überrealismus” im Kontext der zwanziger Jahre’, in F. Reents (ed.), Surrealismus in der deutschsprachigen Literatur (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2009), p. 89

[3] Georges Didi-Huberman, ‘Before the Image, Before Time: The Sovereignty of Anachronism’, in Claire Farago and Robert Zwijnenberg (eds.), Compelling Visuality. The Work of Art in and out of History (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), pp. 31–44.

[4] An anecdote recounted to me by Professor Maria Poprzęcka, to whom I express my thanks.

[5] Jan Kott, ‘Wstęp’, in Paul Éluard, Wybór wierszy, trans. and ed. Adam Ważyk (Warsaw: Czytelnik, 1950), p. 7.

[6] I discuss the issue of the relations of Socialist-Realist criticism to Surrealism in the chapter ‘Surrealism and Politics’, in Dorota Jarecka and Barbara Piwowarska, Erna Rosenstein. Mogę powtarzać tylko nieświadomie / I can Repeat Only Unconsciously (Warsaw: Fundacja Galerii Foksal, 2014), pp. 271-283.

[7] Krystyna Janicka, Światopogląd surrealizmu. Jego założenia i konsekwencja dla teorii twórczości i teorii sztuki (Warszawa: PWN, 1969).

[8] Adam Ważyk (ed. and trans.), Surrealizm. Teoria i praktyka literacka. Antologia (Warsaw: Czytelnik, 1973); Piotr Łukaszewicz, Zrzeszenie Artystów Plastyków Artes” 1929–1935 (Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy imienia Ossolińskich, Wydawnictwo PAN, 1975).

[9] Louis Aragon, Wieśniak paryski, trans. Artur Międzyrzecki (Warsaw: PIW, 2015). Louis Aragon, Cipa Ireny, trans. J. Waczków (Warsaw: Czytelnik, 1994).

[10] Paul Éluard, Ogrody moich oczu, trans. A. Gronczewski (Warsaw: Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza Anagram, 1996).

[11] Piotr Piotrowski, Znaczenia modernizmu. W stronę historii sztuki polskiej po 1945 roku (Poznań: Rebis, 1999), pp. 80–81.

[12] Piotrowski, Znaczenia modernizmu, pp. 79–85.

[13] Janicka, Światopogląd surrealizmu. See also: Piotr Piotrowski, ‘Surrealistyczne interregnum’, in Tomasz Gryglewicz and Maria Hussakowska-Szyszko (eds.), Mistrzowi Mieczysławowi Porębskiemu uczniowie (Kraków: Instytut Historii Sztuki Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, 2001), pp. 297–326.

[14] Andrzej Turowski, Jerzy KujawskiMaranatha (Poznań: Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu, 2005).

[15] Piotr Piotrowski, ‘Surrealistyczne interregnum’, p. 310. Piotrowski rephrased here the passage from: Mieczysław Porębski, ‘O sztuce nowoczesnej’, in J. Chrobak and M. Świca (eds.), I Wystawa Sztuki Nowoczesnej. 50 lat później (Kraków: Fundacja Nowosielskich, Starmach Gallery, 1998), p. 106.

[16] Mieczysław Porębski, Sztuka a informacja (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1986), p. 84.

[17] Mieczysław Porębski, ‘Sztuka a informacja’, in Porębski, Pożegnanie z krytyką (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1966), p. 184.

[18] See: Krystyna Czerni, Nie tylko o sztuce. Rozmowy z profesorem Mieczysławem Porębskim (Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, 1991), p. 30.

[19] See: Antonin Artaud, ‘Ucello, włosek’, in Ważyk (ed.), Surrealizm, pp. 266–268.

[20] Krystyna Czerni and Jerzy Nowosielski, ‘Sztuka nie boi się propagandy. Z Jerzym Nowosielskim rozmawia Krystyna Czerni’, Res Publica 9 (1988).

[21] Krystyna Czerni, Nietoperz w świątyni. Biografia Jerzego Nowosielskiego (Kraków: Znak, 2011), pp. 86–87.

[22] Paweł Leszkowicz, ‘Seks i subwersja w sztuce PRL-u’, Ikonotheka 20 (2007): pp. 51–57.

[23] Breton wrote an introduction to the catalogue, entitled ‘Druhá archa’. See: Mezinárodní surrealismus, exhibition catalogue, Topičův salon (Prague, 1947).

[24] Jakub Kornhauser and Kinga Siewior (eds.), Głuchy brudnopis. Antologia manifestów awangard Europy Środkowej (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, 2014).

[25] Maria Hussakowska-Szyszko, ‘Stosunek do nadrealizmu w polskim dwudziestoleciu międzywojennym’, Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego. Prace z Historii Sztuki, Folder 11 (1975): p. 83.

[26] Piotr Słodkowski, ‘Polskie surrealizmy i ideoza historii sztuki’, Miejsce. Studia
nad Sztuką i Architekturą Polską XX i XXI Wieku 1 (2015): p. 113.

[27] Piotr Słodkowski, ‘Partykularne znaczenia nowoczesności. Wizualność I Wystawy Sztuki Nowoczesnej (1948) w świetle “Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme” (1947)’, Artium Quaestiones 22 (2011).

[28] James Clifford, ‘On Ethnographic Surrealism’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 23/4 (October 1981): p. 539.

[29] Rosalind E. Krauss, ‘The Photographic Conditions of Surrealism’, October 19 (Winter 1981): p. 31.

[30] Hal Foster, ‘Armor Fou’, October 56 (Spring 1991): pp. 64–97; Hal Foster, Compulsive Beauty (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993).

[31] Michael Löwy, Morning Star. Surrealism, Marxism, Anarchism, Situationism, Utopia (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009).

[32] Zaraz po wojnie, Zachęta National Gallery of Art (Zachęta – Narodowa Galeria Sztuki), Warsaw, 30 October 2015–10 January 2016. Curated by Joanna Kordjak and Joanna Szewczyk.

[33] The Club of Young Artists and Scientists was founded in 1947. It was a relatively-independent body of left-wing writers, painters, musicians and scholars, who organised exhibitions, discussions, and published a literary magazine Nurt (Tendency).

[34] Stanisław Marczak-Oborski, Gest romantyczny (Warszawa: Klub Młodych Artystów i Naukowców, 1949), with photograms by Zbigniew Dłubak.

[35] Cited in André Breton ‘D’une décalcomanie sans objet préconçu’, Minotaure 8 (June 1936). A. Breton, ‘Oscar Dominguez: Concerning a decalcomania without preconceived object (decalcomania of desire) (1936)’ in: A Breton, Surrealism and Painting. trans. Simon Watson Taylor (Boston, Mass.: MFA Pub., 2002).

[36] Mieczysław Porębski, Kubizm (Warsaw: PWN, 1966), pp. 164–165; M. Porębski, Sztuka a informacja, p. 84.

[37] Zbigniew Dłubak, ‘Z rozmyślań o fotografice (II)’, Świat Fotografii 11 (1948).

[38] Turowski, Jerzy Kujawski, pp. 41–42.

[39] Turowski, Jerzy Kujawski, pp. 42–43.

[40] Turowski, Jerzy Kujawski, p. 43.

[41] Barbara Mytko, ‘Vitezslava Nezvala spór z surrealistami’, Slavia Occidentalis 33 (1986): pp. 87–97.

[42] Mieczysław Porębski, ‘O sztuce malarskiej’, Kuźnica 22 (1946): pp. 4–6.

[43] André Breton, ‘Surrealism and Painting’, in Breton, Surrealism and Painting, trans. Simon Watson Taylor (Boston, Mass.: MFA Pub., 2002), p. 1.

[44] Krauss, ‘The Photographic Conditions of Surrealism’, p. 29.

[45] Neruda’s subheadings given from Pablo Neruda, Selected Poems. A Bilingual Edition, ed. Nathaniel Tarn (Boston: Houghton Mifflin/Seymour Lawrence, 1990), pp. 203–209. ‘The Magellan Heart’ was translated by Anthony Kerrigan.

[46] Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, trans. Michael Kandel (London: Penguin Books, 1992); Janusz Nel Siedlecki, Krystyn Olszewski, and Tadeusz Borowski, We Were in Auschwitz, (New York: Welome Rain Publishers, 2000).

[47] James Clifford, ‘On Ethnographic Surrealism’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 32/4 (Oct. 1981): pp. 548–553.

[48] Kazimierz Wyka, ‘Gospodarka wyłączona’, Twórczość 1 (1945): pp. 146–170.

[49] Kazimierz Wyka, ‘Faust na ruinach’, in Wyka, Życie na niby (Kraków and Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1984).

[50] Wyka, ‘Faust na ruinach’, p. 211.

[51] Wyka, ‘Faust na ruinach’, pp. 211–212.

[52] Wyka, ‘Faust na ruinach’, p. 216.

[53] Wyka, ‘Faust na ruinach’, p. 214.

[54] Czesław Miłosz, ‘Pablo Neruda. Przekłady’, Odrodzenie 18 (1948,): p. 2.

[55] Krystyna Czerni, Nietoperz w świątyni. Biografia Jerzego Nowosielskiego (Kraków: Znak, 2011), pp. 127–129.

[56] Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009), pp. 66-107.

[57] André Breton, ‘Manifesto of Surrealism’ (1924), in Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1972), p. 32.


DOI: 10.33999/2019.40