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Early cinema[edit]

Interwar avant-garde[edit]

  • 1911, First manifestations of avant-garde tendencies at Krakow’s Exhibitions of the Independents, which include works by Tytus Czyżewski, Eugeniusz Zak, Andrzej and Zbigniew Pronaszko.



Excerpted from Alina Kowalczykowa, "The Interwar Years – 1918-1939", 2004, pp 210-211.
"Polish futurism was short-lived, drawing to a close in 1922. Bruno Jasieński became a stanch Communist, producing the poem Song on Jakub Szela [Słowo o Jakubie Szeli] and the novel I Burn Paris [Palę Pary]. His political activities led to his emigration to Soviet Russia, where after enjoying a stunning career for a few years he was arrested in 1937 and was killed as a traitor in the Stalinist purges. Another Communist-leaning author was Aleksander Wat – imprisoned in Russia during WWII, he would die in Paris in 1967 as a respected poet and the author of works including his final-tally memoirs My Century [Mój wiek] and anti-Soviet sketches. Anatol Stern became associated with film. Two artistic disciplines, poetry and painting, were practiced within the futurist movement by Stanisław Młodożeniec and by the long under-appreciated formist painter Tytus Czyżewski (the same combination of disciplines was similarly practiced by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz and later by Bruno Schulz). Czyżewski introduced the principles of formism, drawn from painting, into his poetry: he gave his poems 'formist' graphical layouts, and linked the two disciplines thematically. For example, the metaphors in his poem sun in metamorphosis [słońce w metamorfozie] seem close to the concept behind his painting Akt z kotem [Nude with a Cat]. The painter Henryk Berlewi (who spent most of his life in France) engaged in joint artistic, advertising, and publishing ventures with the Warsaw group in the 1920s. They initiated an artistic phenomenon that was later continued by avant-garde groups throughout the interwar years, one which is highly interesting but has yet to be sufficiently studied: the relations between poetry and the fine arts, marked by bonds of friendship and cooperation that extended across Poland’s borders."

  • 1913, Lwów. Exhibition of Futurists, Cubists and Expressionists organised jointly with the Berlin Galerie Der Sturm (Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Kokoschka., Kubišta and others).
  • February 1918, Warsaw. The first futurist evening organised by Stern and Wat
Writings and Journals
  • Marinetti, Futurist Manifesto, Swiat , Krakow, October 1909.
  • Anatol Stern, Aleksander Wat, Gga, Warsaw, December 1920. Futurist almanac. Immediately confiscated on the grounds of obscenity.
  • Jednodńuwka futurystuw [The Futurists’ Day], Krakow. First issue: June 1921, contains futurist manifestos written against the elementary rules of grammar and spelling by Bruno Jasieński. Second issue: November 1921, Kraków/Warsaw, Nuż w bżuhu [A Knife in the Stomach] confiscated three weeks later.
  • Nowa sztuka: miesięcznik artystyczny [New Art], 1921-1922, monthly, ed. Anatol Stern and Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, futurist poetry.
  • Zwrotnica [Railway Switch], monthly, 12 issues, 1922-23 and 1926-27, Krakow, edited by Tadeusz Peiper.
  • Bruno Jasieński, Anatol Stern, Ziemia na lewo [Earth to the Left), 1925. A book of poems; cover design by Mieczysław Szczuka is the first Polish photomontage.
  • Nina Kolesnikoff, "Polish Futurism. Its Origin and the Aesthetic Program", Canadian Slavonic Papers 18:3 (Sep 1976), pp 301-311. (English)
  • Beata Sniecikowska, Nuz w uhu Koncepcje dzwieku w poezji polskiego futuryzmu, Wroclaw: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wroclawskiego, 2008. [2] (Polish)
  • I. Gwóźdź-Szewczenko, Futuryzm w czeskim pejzażu literackim, Wrocław, 2009. (Polish)
  • Przemysław Strożek, "'Marinetti is foreign to us': Polish Responses to Italian Futurism, 1917-1923", in International Yearbook of Futurism Studies, Vol. 1., ed. G. Berghaus, Berlin and New York: Walter De Gruyter, 2011, pp 84-108. (English)
  • Przemysław Strożek, "Poland", in International Futurism 1945-2009. A Bibliographic Reference Shelf, ed. G. Berghaus, Berlin-New York: De Gruyter, 2012. (English)
  • Przemysław Strożek, Marinetti i futuryzm w Polsce 1909-1939: obecność, kontakty, wydarzenia, Warsaw: Instytut Sztuki Polskiej Akademii Nauk, 2012, 383 pp. (Polish)


main article

  • Formiści, six issues published between October 1919 and 1921, edited by Czyżewski, Winkler and Chwistek.
  • Leon Chwistek, "Wielość rzeczywistości w sztuce" [The Plurality of Realities in Art], Maski 1-4 (Jan-Feb 1918); repr. in Przeglad Wspolczesny 9 (Apr-Jun 1924); repr. in Wielość rzeczywistości w sztuce i inne szkice literackie, 1960, pp 24-50; repr. in Wybór pism estetycznych, 2004, pp 3-20. (Polish) Chwistek proposed the theory of the "plurality of realities in art" as a reaction against the dualistic model of the avant-garde. Later on, in various interdisciplinary discussions about art, mathematics, poetry, architecture and politics, he argued against agitprop and the missionary stance of the avant-garde, in favour of an open, modern and transnational society.
  • Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, "Nowe formy w malarstwie i wynikające stąd nieporozumienia", 1919. Formulates the principles of Pure Form. (Polish)
  • Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Szkice estetyczne [Aesthetic Sketches], 1922. (Polish)
  • Leon Chwistek, Wielość rzeczywistości [The Plurality of Realities], Kraków: Zaklad graficzny 'Wisloka' w Jaśle, 1921, 96 pp; repr. in Chwistek, Pisma filozoficzne i logiczne, 1, 1961, pp 30-105. (Polish)


  • Blok (Grupa Kubistów, Konstruktywistów i Suprematystów Blok), Warsaw, 1924-1926.
  • Praesens, Warsaw, 1926-1930, avant-garde abstract art group.
  • a.r., Lodz, 1929-1936.
  • December 1921, an exhibition of three young graduates of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, Szczuka, Stażewski and Miller, was held at Polski Klub Artystyczny. It is considered one of the first displays of constructivism in Polish art. Szczuka presented compositions made out of iron, stone, glass and wires, Stażewski showed Cubist still nature and Miller made posters, where the typography was based on building compositions out of words and letters in such a way to visually emphasize the most important parts of the text. Even though this exposition already rather diverged from the previous events, the word 'constructivism' was not yet used.
  • The New Art Exhibition [Wystawa Nowej Sztuki] was held on 20 May - 20 June 1923 at Corso Cinema [Kinematograf Corso] on A. Mickiewicz Avenue in Vilnius [Wilno] and organised by Władysław Strzemiński and Vytautas Kairiūkštis. One of the first manifestations of constructivist art outside Russia. Works included painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, scenography, and prints. Cubist, Constructivist, and Suprematist compositions predominated. Its catalogue includes Kairiūkštis’ constructivist manifesto. The exhibition marked the first appearance of Polish Constructivism; besides Strzemiński and Kairiūkštis participants also included Mieczysław Szczuka (first montage photographs), Henryk Stażewski, Teresa Żarnowerówna, Karol Kryński, and Maria Puciatycka, all of whom later become the members of the Blok group.
  • a one-man show organised by Henryk Berlewi from his own work Mechanofaktura in the Austro-Daimler Automobile Salon, 1924.
  • 15 March 1924, Blok's inaugural exhibition opened in the showroom of the automobile firm Lauren-Clement.
  • March 1927, Warsaw. Visit of Kazimir Malevich, who shows a selection of his works in the Polish Art Club and lectures on new trends in art. [5]
  • May 1927, New York. Strzemiński as a representative of Praesens co-organised the Machine Age Exposition
  • March 1928, Modernists' Salon [Salon Modernistów] exhibition at Warsaw's Związek Zawodowy Artystów Plastyków [Trade Unions of the Artists]
  • May 1929, To commemorate the tenth anniversary of Poland’s independence, the Universal exhibition of Art opens in Poznań (the largest show of Polish visual art in the interwar period; it includes works by avant-garde artists). The Praesens group breaks up after the exhibition.
  • a.r. International Collection of Modern Art donated by a.r. group to the Municipal Museum of History and Art (now Museum of Art; Museum Sztuki) in Lodz opened to the public on 15 February 1931. It included 111 works and represented - as no other contemporary European collection had done - the main movements of avant-garde art, from Cubism, Futurism and Constructivism, through Purism and Surrealism, to Neo-Plasticism, Unism and Formism. It is the first permanent collection of abstract art in a European museum, and opened two years after the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Władysław Strzemiński and a.r. group acquired the works through donations from artist friends and acquaintances around Europe between 1929 and 1932, and supplemented the collection until 1938. The collection in its ideological construct reflects the artistic preferences of Strzemiński, although it is a resultant of many people’s efforts, Stażewski, Brzękowski, Hans Arp and Michel Seuphor among others. In so doing they altered the cultural topography of the whole continent, putting Lodz on the map as a link between Paris, Berlin, Warsaw and Moscow. Equally radical was the idea of a museum based on international exchange between artists. The collection include works from Abstraction-Création, Cercle et Carré, Ernst, Arp, Léger, Picasso, Marcoussis, van Doesburg, Prampolini, Vantongerloo, Schwitters and the Polish avant-garde such as Chwistek, Hiller, Witkiewicz and Szczuka. The museum continuted to exhibit the constructivist works even during communism. The works by Kobro and Strzemiński are now housed in a space designed by the couple in 1948, the 'Sala Neoplastyczna'.
  • July 1932, 'New Generation' exhibition in Lvov. The second show after the Modernists' Salon which continued the tradition of presenting a wide spectrum of modern art, while also declaring interest in a different direction of experiments. The Constructivists were dominated here by the Colourists.
  • March 1933, exhibition of a.r. group together with Krakow Group and L'Art Contemporain as Group of Modern Visual Artists [Grupa Plastykow Nowoczesnych], opened in Instytut Propagandy Sztuki [Institute for the Propaganda of Art] Warsaw and in autumn moves to Łódź.
  • Constructivism in Poland 1923-1936, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1976. [6]
Writings and manifestos
  • Tadeusz Peiper, "Metropolis. Mass. Machine." [Miasto. Masa. Maszyna.], Zwrotnica 2, 1922. Manifesto, initial inspiration for Awangarda Krakowska literary group.
  • Mieczyslaw Szczuka, Teresa Żarnowerówna, "Co to jest konstruktywizm" [What is Constructivism], Blok group manifesto, Blok 6-7, Sep 1924.
  • Władysław Strzemiński, "B = 2", Blok no. 8-9, 1924. Presents a theory of unism.
  • Henryk Berlewi, "Mechano-Faktura", 1924. Published in German by Der Sturm in Berlin and in Polish by Jazz in Warsaw (translated by K.J. Michaelsen). In retrospect, Berlewi placed his manifesto between Witkacy's "Nowe formy w malarstwie" (1919) and Strzeminski's "Unism w malarstwie" (1928).
  • Julian Przyboś, "Człowiek w rzeczach"; "Człowiek nad przyrodą", Zwrotnica, 1926.
  • Władysław Strzemiński, Unizm w malarstwie [Unism in Painting], Biblioteka Praesens, no. 3, Warsaw, 1928.
  • Wtadysław Strzemiński, et al., "Komunikat Grupy 'a.r.'" [Communiqué of the Group ‘a.r.’], Europa, no. 9, 1930.
  • more: [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14]
  • Belewi font, by Artur Frankowski, 2006. [15]
  • Constructivism in Poland 1923-1936: BLOK, Praesens, a.r., Łódź: Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, 1973, 208 pp. Catalogue. [16] Review: Werner. (English),(Dutch),(German)
  • Aleksander Wojciechowski (ed.), Polskie życie artystyczne w latach 1915-1939 [The Polish artistic life in years 1915-1939], Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1974. (Polish)
  • Z. Baranowicz, Polska awangarda artystyczna 1918-1927, Warsaw, 1975. (Polish)
  • Konstruktywizm w Polsce 1923-1936, ed. Janusz Zagrodzki, Łódź: Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi, 1978, [29] pp. Catalogue. (Polish)
  • Vladimír Šlapeta, "Die Architektur an der Akademie für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe in Breslau", Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift 26:4/5, Hochschule für Architektur und Bauwesen, 1979. (German)
  • Andrzej Turowski, W kręgu konstruktiwizmu, Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Artystyczne i Filmowe, 1979, 288 pp. (Polish)
  • Andrzej Turowski, Konstruktywizm polski: próba rekonstrukcji nurtu, 1921-1934, Wroclaw: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1981, 360 pp. Review: Gryglewicz (FHA 1985). (Polish)
  • David Crowley, "The Cracow School and the Second Republic", in National Style and Nation-state: Design in Poland. From the Vernacular Revival to the International Style, Manchester University Press, 1992, pp 54-79. (English)
  • David Crowley, "Questioning Parochialism", in National Style and Nation-state: Design in Poland. From the Vernacular Revival to the International Style, Manchester University Press, 1992, pp 80-101. (English)
  • Samuel Albert, "Poland. Bauhaus Students: Max Sinowjewitsch Krajewski, Arieh Sharon, Munio Weinreb (Gitai), Edgar Hecht (Hed), Isaac Weinfeld, Shlomo Bernstein, Schmuel Mestechkin", Centropa 3:1 (2003). [17]
  • Ilana Löwy, "Ways of Seeing: Ludwik Fleck and Polish Debates on the Perception of Reality, 1890–1947", Studies In History and Philosophy of Science 39:3 (Sep 2008), pp 375-383. (English)
  • Magdalena Ziółkowska, "The Laboratory of Constructivism / Laboratorium konstruktywizmu", in Archywum 2, Łódź: Museum of Art, 2009, pp 66-77. (English)/(Polish)


For writings on futurism, formism and constructivism specifically, see sections below.

  • Jaroslaw Lubiak, Malgorzata Ludwisiak, Korespondencje: Sztuka nowoczesna i uniwersalizm/Correspondences: Modern Art and Universalism, Lodz: Muzeum Sztuki, 2012. Catalogue of a retrospective exhibition of the collection of Muzeum Sztuki and Kunstmuseum, Bern.
  • Helena Zaworska, O nową sztukę. Polskie programy artystyczne lat 1917-1922, PIW, 1963. (Polish)
  • Andrzej Lam, Polska awangarda poetycka. Programy lat 1917-1923, Cracow: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1969. (Polish)
  • Wiesław Szymański, Z dziejów czasopism literackich w dwudziestoleciu międzywojennym, Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1970, 386 pp. (Polish)
  • Tadeusz Kłak, Czasopisma awangardy, 2 vols., (1919-1931 & 1931-1939), Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1978 & 1979, 244 & 219 pp. (Polish)
  • Bogdana Carpenter, The Poetic Avant-Garde in Poland: 1918-1939, University of Washington Press, 1983, xviii+234 pp. Review: Baranczak (PR 1984). (English)
  • Lech Kalinowski (ed.), The Art of the 1920s in Poland, Bohemia, Slovakia, and Hungary, Cracow: International Cultural Centre, 1991. Proceedings from the Niedzica Seminars VI, 19-22 Oct 1989. TOC.
  • Ryszard Kluszczyński, Awangarda: rozważania teoretyczne, Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, 1997. [18] (Polish)
  • Andrzej Turowski, Budowniczowie świata. Z dziejów radykalnego modernizmu, Cracow: Universitas, 2000, 416 pp. (Polish)
  • Marek Bartelik, Early Polish Modern Art: Unity in Multiplicity, Manchester University Press, 2005. [19]
  • Marci Shore, Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation's Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968, Yale University Press, 2006, 457 pp.
  • Piotr Rypson, Against All Odds. Polish Graphic Design 1919-1949, Karakter, 2011. [20]
  • Piotr Piotrowski, "Art and Independence. Polish Art in the 1920s", 1993. (English)
  • Irena Kossowska, "Między tradycją i awangardą. Polska sztuka lat 1920 i 1930", Culture.pl, 2004. (Polish)
  • Alina Kowalczykowa, "The Interwar Years – 1918-1939", in Ten Centuries of Polish Literature, Warsaw: Wydawnictwo IBL PAN, 2004, pp 202-227. [21]
  • E. Ranocchi, "Miłość maszyn. Antynomie maszyny w polskim modernizmie", Studi Slavistici VIII (2011), pp 137-160. (Polish)
  • Przemysław Strożek, "Cracow and Warsaw: Becoming the Avant-Garde. Formiści (1919-1921), Nowa Sztuka (1921-1922), Zwrotnica (first series 1922-1923), Blok (1924-1926)", in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, vol. 3 (Europe, 1880-1940), New York: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp 1184-1207. [22]
  • Lidia Gluchowska, "Poznan and Lodz: National Modernism and the International Avant-Garde", in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, vol. 3 (Europe, 1880-1940), New York: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp 1208-1233. [23]
Documentary film

Experimental film, avant-garde film[edit]


  • early contributions to cinema were largely wiped out by World War II
  • In the 1980s, martial law in Poland killed experimental film making, as access to equipment and facilities was denied. In its place, video thrived. Many new artists grew up with the medium but some of the artists who mastered it, had previously used film, such as Robakowski.

Artists and works[edit]

  • The young Polish artist Teresa Żarnowerówna wrote as a Constructivist in 1923 that "The artist has the broadest scope for expression in the cinema, where elements of the individual branches of art may be combined, ... enhanced by the perfection of technical methods." As was common in this period, the dream of a new cinema came before the reality. Although Żarnowerówna's artistic collaborator Mieczysław Szczuka began work on abstract films only two years after her statement on cinema, they were unfinished by his early death. [24]
  • Franciszka and Stefan Themerson
    • First photomontage films in 1927.
    • The first successfully completed avant-garde film in Poland was Pharmacy (Apteka, 1930, 35mm, 3 min, b&w, silent, Warszawa), by the writer-painter team of Stefan and Franciszka Themerson. To make it, the Themersons constructed a special animation stand that consisted of a glass plate covered with translucent paper and a camera beneath it with its lens pointing upwards. Small objects were placed on the glass. By lighting them from above, changing their position, and shooting frame by frame, they achieved interesting, nearly abstract moving patterns. Bruce Checefsky made a remake, Pharmacy (2001, 35mm, black and white abstract photogram film, silent, 4:36) filmed in Budapest using a 1930s single frame camera and a reconstruction of the Themerson's trick table based on an original drawing made by Stefan Themerson in the 1970s.
    • Inspired by Anatol Stern’s poem Europa (published in 1929), they made the photomontage film Europa (1931/32, 35mm, 15 min, b&w, silent, Warszawa). A flow of snapshots depicting different aspects of contemporary life, Stern had made a strong political statement, a warning about the existence of social tensions and the possibility of a new world war. The Themersons followed the text closely, producing a filmic collage in which literary metaphors were represented word for picture. Since Europa was silent, the result was a stream of beautiful and sometimes mysterious images. [25] [26]
    • After completing 'Europa', the Themersons made two commissioned films: a commercial for a jewelry shop owned by Wanda Golińska (Musical Moment, Drobiazg Melodyjny, 1933, 35mm, 3 min, b&w, sound, music: Ravel) and an educational short for the Institute of Social Problems in Warsaw (Short Cut, Zwarcie, 1935, 35mm, 10 min, b&w, sound, music: Witold Lutosławski, Warszawa). In both they utilized the technique of animating objects they had already used in 'Pharmacy', which involved moving lights and shadows on objects. They evolved out of the Themersons' improvisations with the photogram in 1928-35. Most of the images were made on a "trick-table" improvised by Stefan Themerson. He placed various objects on a piece of translucent paper over a sheet ofglass. The lights were above, and he photographed the images from below frame by frame. In 1934, T.Toeplitz from Kurier Polski wrote: "And finally I shall mention the Themersons, who shot a truly beautiful commercial Moment Musical. This film moment is the only film that one cannot raise any objections to at all. The only positive point in the balance of Polish film production in 1933-34." Both films were also destroyed during the German occupation of Warsaw.
    • The Adventure of a Good Citizen (Przygoda czlowieka poczciwego, 1937, 35mm, 10 min, b&w, sound, music: Stefan Kisielewski, Warszawa) is a compendium of visual devices which shows what Stefan Themerson called his "urge to create visions," the title of his most influential essay. A surrealist burlesque that later inspired Roman Polanski’s 'Two Men and a Wardrobe'. Although it was mostly live action, they smuggled a few abstract images into the plot, some of them painted directly on the film stock. The film is the most significant Polish avant-garde cinematic work from the 1930s to survive to the present time. It was their last film completed in Poland, the war forced the Themersons to England where they continued to make films. [27] [28]
    • In London they produced two more shorts (commissioned by the Film Bureau of the Ministry of Information and Documentation of the Polish Government in exile): Calling Mr. Smith (Wzywając pana Smitha, 1943, 35mm, 10 min, Dufay-colour, sound, music: Bach, Karol Szymanowski, Horst Wessel Lied, London) and 'The Eye and the Ear'. The former is an anti-Nazi propaganda film whose aim was to wake up ordinary British citizens, many of whom refused to acknowledge that the nation that had delivered Bach and Goethe could have committed crimes against humanity. Despite the message, the form of the film was innovative, contrasting shocking documentary footage with images of pure visual beauty (achieved, among other methods, through the use of color filters and hand drawn images). [29] [30]
    • The Eye and the Ear (Oko i Ucho, 1944/45, 35mm, 10 min, b&w, sound, music: Karol Szymanowski, London) is a collection of four visual interpretations of songs by Karol Szymanowski (music) and Julian Tuwim (lyrics), sung by Sophie Wyss. Two of them consist of abstract moving patterns that represent the voice of the singer and orchestration. For one of the remaining parts, the filmmakers built a glass container, filled it with water, and dropped small clay balls into this to create ripples that also reflected the progress of the musical line. It claims to visualise the ear's experience when it listens to a piece of music. However, since the music, Szymanowski's 'Slopiewnie', seeks to capture visual experiences in sound, the film only reverses the process, rendering the whole exercise rather pointless. The exception to this is the third movement, 'Rowan Towers', in which a more mathematical system of interpreting the soundtrack is taken. The film is one of the best, but simultaneously lesser known, examples of abstract cinema in the history of this genre. [31] [32]
  • In 1930s, significant film experiments were also conducted in Krakow by a group of avant-garde artists and poets: Janusz Maria Brzeski, Kazimierz Podsadecki, and Jalu Kurek. None of their films survived intact, but enough material from Kurek’s OR (Rhythmic Calculations) (1934) was found after the war to allow it to be reconstructed (by Ignacy Szczepanski with a script by Marcin Giżycki. Incorporated into a documentary film titled Jalu Kurek). The film was an illustration of Kurek’s theoretical belief according to which one could make films without actually showing a human face. So, for example, the story of a date between two protagonists was told mostly using shots of their legs. Some unrelated images of factory chimneys, trees, and clocks, etc. added visual metaphors that were open to interpretation. Poetic, animated title screens completed the whole.
  • There is a Ball Today (1934) by Tadeusz Kowalski and Jerzy Zarzycki, two architectural students who were also active in the Start Art Film Friends Society, is a poetic reportage about an annual ball for young architects, unconventionally told and filled with interesting tricks.
  • Jerzy Gabryelski's Buty [Boots] (12 min, 35 mm, 1934) is a narrative anti-war short that cleverly utilizes the possibilities of the film medium (transitions, double exposures, etc.).
  • Eugeniusz Cękalski, Kujawiak [Kuyaviak], from the Polish Dance Series, 7 min, 35 mm, 1935.
  • Shaul and Yitzhak Goskind, Jewish Life in Lwów, 10 min, 16 mm, 1938/1939. (in Yiddish)
  • Mieczyslaw Waskowski, Somnambulicy [Somnambulists] (1957), film attempts to recreate the principles of Tachist painting in cinema while the latter is a filming of a performance using Pawlowski's light box.
  • Andrzej Pawlowski, Kineformy [Cinéforms] (1957), box of mirrors and prisms produces unbelievably modern effects; wispy smoke, diaphanous curtains, passing ghosts and then suddenly solid organic forms.
  • Walerian Borowczyk, Skola [School], comic animation about a soldier on parade reverses the invention of cinema by reducing the medium to a series of still photographs again. Dom [House] (1958) - made with Jan Lenica.
  • Jan Lenica, Labirynt [Labyrinth] (1962), a film which looks back to the Max Ernst's collages for his book La Femme 100 tetes and forward to Terry Gilliam's animations for Monty Python's Flying Circus. It is a surreal nocturnal world of bowler hatted angels, walruses who try to fly and voluptuous young maidens who prefer not to be rescued from the clutches of Bosch-like dragons.
  • Rynek [Market] (4'21", 1970) by Jozef Robakowski, Tadeusz Junak and Ryszard Meissner. The first film produced by Robakowski as a member of the Workshop of the Film Form, the artist tries to uncover a potential of the film medium to create an illusion of reality. Robakowski shows how a film’s “sense of realness”, established by viewer’s perception of the world seen on the screen as one that is real, is only a technological product, more exactly the result of a correct speed, at which a movie runs in a projector or camera (24 frames per second). An early example of the use of time-lapse photography.
  • Jozef Robakowski, Ide [I'm Going] (1973), a performance piece of the author climbing 200 steps of a look-out tower. The first part of his Vital-Video (1994), "My Videomasochism"; armed with a whole selection of everyday instruments, Robakowski attacks his face in a variety of ways; meanwhile, almost childish grunts, groans and cries play over the top in response to the self-inflicted prodding.
  • 1970s-1980s, women artists: Zofia Kulik, Ewa Partum, Natalia LL, Anna Kutera, Katarzyna Hierowska, Jadwiga Singer, Jolanta Marcolla, Teresa Tyszkiewicz, Ewa Zarzycka, Barbara Konopka, Irena Nawrot, Iwona Lemke-Konart.
  • Open Form (1971), carried out jointly by the students of Lodz Film School and the Department of Sculpture of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. Films (1971): School, Moses, Game on an Actress' Face
  • Zbigniew Rybczynski, Kwadrat [The Square] (1972).
  • Natalia LL, Consumption Art - Exhibition Opening at PERMAFO Gallery (1973), on one side an attempt to compromise the cognitive ambition of conceptual art, and on the other an effort to critically relate to the iconographic sphere of popular culture that frequently employs erotic motives.
  • Zofia Kulik
  • Ewa Partum, visual poetry has been the main area of the artist’s creative interests since 1969, along with films contained in the structural cinema paradigm. Since the late seventies she has gradually moved from the issues of autonomous conceptual art and contemplation of purely artistic problems to taking up feminist issues. Tautological Cinema (1973), film cycle.
  • Antosz & Andzia (Stanislaw Antosz and Katarzyna Hierowska), multi-element play on the reality of TV serials and Hollywood movies, Murderer (1975).
  • Anna Kutera, closely linked with the artistic community of Wroclaw, where she co-created The Recent Art Gallery with Romuald Kutera and Lech Mrozek; in the mid-seventies these artists were augmenting the contextual art theses of Jan Lwidziski. Presentation (1974).
  • Zbigniew Rybczynski, Nowa ksiazka [A New Book] (1975) and Tango (1980). Both are amazing films in terms of the amount of planning and calculation that must have been made to get all the characters and their actions to dovetail. In Nowa ksiazka, the life of a Polish town is narrated through nine static camera angles shown simultaneously on a divided screen. Tango, the last film he made in Poland, is both a philosophical look at the solitary, mechanical nature of life and a genuinely funny piece at the same time. Starting with an empty room, Rybczynski one-by-one adds stereotyped figures from an extended family. All of them are unaware of the others and are caught in a loop of meaningless repetition to the rhythm of a simple tango. The films are also interesting in that they anticipate the techniques which video offers.
  • Barbara Konopka, musician, Interferences (1985), depicts a number of self-manipulative interventions of the artist on her own body. Caprices and Variations on One's Own Subject, Opus 13, Part 1 (1994), a "reflection on the human destiny," mingles pictures of the Virgin Mary with octopus innards. The individual images are powerful, but somehow they fail to hang together.
  • Miroslaw Rogala, makes video operas, Nature Is Leaving Us (1988), has the idealistic naiveti which afflicts most art about saving the environment.
  • Jacek Szleszynski, Self-Portrait (1994), computer technology used maturely for visual effect.
  • Michal Brzezinski, Memory (2003), Found Footage based on Temporary Internet Files folder. [33] Mnemosyne (2006), computer technology through the visual effect transforms unknown sculpture from Rome into half-abstract animated reality. [34] Modern Post Mortem, found footage deconstruction of Vertov, Debord, and home archive of young citizens of very postcolonial city in Poland. Generative repetitions evocate socio-meditation on the subject of modernism in Central Europe (2008).


  • Start (Society of the Devotees of the Artistic Film; Stowarzyszenia Miłośników Filmu Artystycznego), 1929-1935. Aleksander Ford, Wanda Jakubowska, Stanisĺaw Wohl, Jerzy Toeplitz, Jerzy Bossak, Eugeniusz Cękalski, Jerzy Zarzynski.
  • SAF (Spółdzielnią Autorów Filmowych), *1935 by Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, one of the first film co-operatives.
  • Polish Film Unit, under the aegis of Polish Ministry of Information & Documentation in London. Franciszka and Stefan Themerson worked there during 1942-54. Eugeniusz Cękalski, its first director, had been a member of SAF, as had Aleksander Ford, who also directed films for the Unit, 1943-44. No history of the Unit exists but ten films are preserved in the Imperial War Museum, London, and there were more. [35]


  • 1930s: film clubs in Warsaw (Start), Krakow, Lwow, Lodz


  • late 1930s: first screenings of the European avant-garde in Warsaw (Len Lye, Basil Wright, Moholy-Nagy, Rene Clair, Leger, Chomette, Lacombe, Gilson), arranged by Franciszka and Stefan Themerson
  • Polish Avant-Garde Films, 1930-1945, University of Washington in Seattle, 2003 [36] [37]
  • A Short History of Polish Avant-Garde and Experimental Film, October 25–November 2, 2003, MOMA, New York, [38]



Conceptual art[edit]

  • Urszula Czartoryska, Od pop-artu do sztuki konceptualnej, Warsaw, 1973. (Polish)
  • Stefan Morawski, "Konceptualizm obcy i rodzimy", Projekt 3 (1975), pp 26-33 (Polish)
  • Urszula Czartoryska, Od pop-artu do sztuki konceptualnej, Warsaw, 1976. (Polish)
  • Alicja Kępińska, Nowa sztuka. Sztuka polska w latach 1945-1978, Warsaw: Auriga, 1981. (Polish)
  • Piotr Krakowski, "O sztuce konceptualnej", ch 6 in Krakowski, O sztuce nowej i najnowszej, Warsaw: PWN, 1981, pp 112-134. (Polish)
  • Grzegorz Dziamski, "Konceptualizm", in Od awangardy do postmodernizmu. Encyklopedia kultury polskiej XX wieku, ed. Dziamski, Warsaw, 1996, pp 369ff. (Polish)
  • Refleksja konceptualna w sztuce polskiej: doświadczenia dyskursu, 1965-1975 / Conceptual Reflection in Polish Art: Experiences of Discourse: 1965-1975, eds. Paweł Polit and Piotr Woźniakiewicz, Warsaw: Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, 2000. Essays by Alicja Kepinska, Andrzej Kostolowski, Pawel Polit; interviews with Andrzej Turowski and Jerzy Ludwinski. Preface (EN). Exhibition 1. Exhibition 2. Exh.review: Lum & Szymczyk (ArtMargins EN 1999). Book review: Murawska-Muthesius (ArtMargins 2003 EN). (Polish)/(English)
  • Martin Patrick, "Polish Conceptualism of the 1960s and 1970s: Images, Objects, Systems and Texts", Third Text 96: "Socialist Eastern Europe", Spring 2001, pp 25-45. (English)
  • Autonomiczny ruch konceptualny w Polsce, ed. Zbigniew Warpechowski, Lublin: Galeria Stara BWA Lublin, 2002. Catalogue. (Polish)
  • Grzegorz Dziamski, "Spór o sztukę konceptualną w Polsce", Dyskurs 7 (2007), pp 194-224. (Polish)
  • Luiza Nader, "Sztuka konceptualna w Polsce", Culture.pl, 20 Nov 2007. (Polish)
  • Luiza Nader, Konceptualizm w PRL, Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego & Fundacja Galerii Foksal, 2009, 429 pp. Based on dissertation (2007). Reviews: Sienkiewicz (Dwutygodnik 2009), Szewczyk (Frieze 2010 EN), Kemp-Welch (ArtMargins 2010 EN). (Polish)
  • Łukasz Ronduda, Sztuka polska lat 70. awangarda, Jelenia Góra: Polski Western, and Warsaw: CSW Zamek Ujazdowski, 2009, 379 pp. Editorial concept: Piotr Uklański. [42] [43] (Polish)
    • Polish Art of the 70s, Jelenia Góra: Polski Western, and Warsaw: CCA Zamek Ujazdowski, 2009, 379 pp. Reviews: Szewczyk (Frieze 2010), Kemp-Welch (ArtMargins 2010). (English)
  • Wokół sporów o definicję przedmiotu sztuki. Miejsce konceptualizmu, kontekstualizmu i sztuki pojęciowej w historii sztuki najnowszej, ed. Bogusław Jasiński, Gorzów Wielkopolski: Galeria Sztuki Najnowszej, 2009. (Polish)
  • Grzegorz Dziamski, Przełom konceptualny i jego wpływ na praktykę i teorię sztuki, Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM, 2010, 294 pp. Chapter 6. [44] (Polish)
  • Sztuka i Dokumentacja 6: "Sztuka jako idea, ludzie, czas. W kręgu polskiego konceptualizmu", Łódź, 2012. (Polish)
  • Permafo: monografia galerii i ruchu artystycznego, ed. Anna Markowska, Wrocław: Muzeum Współczesne Wrocław, 2012, 496 pp. Lead essay. [45] (Polish)
  • Łukasz Guzek, "Performatywność sztuki konceptualnej", Dyskurs 17 (2014), pp 189-219. (Polish)
  • Klara Kemp-Welch, "NET: An Open Proposition", e-flux 98, Feb 2019. (English)

Geometric abstraction, Neo-constructivism, Op art, Kinetic art[edit]


Performance art[edit]

Azorro group [50], Tadeusz Kantor [51], Jarosław Kozłowski [52], Andrzej Mitan (sound poet, performer, publisher) [53] [54], Akademia Ruchu

  • Fluxus compositions broadcast by Polish Radio (1964); Fluxus Festival in Poznan, 1977 [55]
  • Andrzej Mitan and Emmett William, the first Polish Fluxus-Concert (concrete poetry-jazz-visualization). [56]
  • The International Art Seminar ETC, 1987/88. Organised by Andrzej Mitan and Emmett William. More that a hundred eminent artists from the US, Europe and Japan participated. [57]
  • A-Yo, Emmett Williams, "Brand-new Piece in The Style of The Sixties", Fluxus w Warszawie, 2011, [58] [59]
  • Performance – wybór tekstów, eds. Grzegorz Dziamski, Gajewski Henryk and Jan. St. Wojciechowski, Warsaw: Miodzieżowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1984, 202+31 pp. (Polish)
  • Alicja Kępińska, Nowa sztuka. Sztuka polska w latach 1945-1978, Warsaw: Auriga, 1981. (Polish)
  • Tadeusz Pawłowski, Happening, Warsaw, 1988. (Polish)
  • Sabine Folie (ed.), The Impossible Theater: Performativity in the Works of / Das unmögliche Theater: Performativität im Werk von Pawel Althamer, Tadeusz Kantor, Katarzyna Kozyra, Robert Kusmirowski and Artur Zmijewski, Nürnberg: Verlag für Moderne Kunst, 2005, 152 pp. Essays by Sabine Folie, Jaroslaw Suchan and Hanna Wroblewska. [60] (English)/(German)
  • Jan Przyłuski, Sztuka akcji. Dziesięć zdarzeń w Polsce, Słupsk: Bałtycka Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej, 2007, 82 pp. [61] (Polish)
  • Agnieszka Sosnowska, Performans oporu, Warsaw: Fundacja Nowej Kultury Bęc Zmiana, Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski, and Instytut Kultury Polskiej Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2018, 226 pp. Excerpt. Publisher. (Polish)
Magazine issues
Book chapters, essays

Computer and computer-aided art[edit]


Video art[edit]


  • "Video art is entirely incompatible with the utilitarian character of that institution (television), it is the artistic movement, which through its independence, denounces the mechanism of the manipulation of other people." (J. Robakowski, "Video art - szansa podejscia rzeczywistosci", in Wypisy ze sztuki, Lublin, 1978, p 28).
  • First video works in Poland, both tapes and installations, were made in 1973.


Video installations[edit]

  • first half of 1970s: Bruszewski, Kwiek, Mikolajczyk, Wasko, Robakowski.
  • second half of 1970s, 1980s: Bruszewski, Paruzel, Rogala, Zgraja.
  • 1990s: Rogala, Konopka, Wasilewski.


  • presentations of video art traditionally organised in galleries since the 1970s
  • In 1989 the first edition of WRO - International Sound Basis Visual Art Festival was organised in Wroclaw (Piotr Krajewski, Violetta Krajewska, Zbigniew Kupisz). After three annual appearances the festival is working as biennial now.
  • In the CCA, besides regular video presentations, an annual international festival of experimental cinema and video art is held.
  • In 1994 the first video festival in Lublin took place
  • In 2000's most part of video art events was organized by Michal Brzezinski [65]
  • The Hidden Decade, retrospective of Polish video art 1985-1995, in National Musem Wroclaw, part of WRO Biennale in 2009
  • Analogue: Pioneering Artists' Video from Poland (1968–88), Tate London, 60 min programme, selected by Lukasz Ronduda, [66]
  • Alternating. Direct. Shifting. AC / DC / IT, WRO, curated by Piotr Krajewski, 2012. [67] [68]


  • 1980s: academies of fine arts (Torun and Wroclaw)
  • Polish Video Art Data Bank, *1988 in Lodz, founded by Ryszard Kluszczynski, a non-profit organisation for media culture
  • In 1990 Kluszczynski founded Film & Video Department in The Centre for Contemporary Art - Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw.
  • WRO Center for Media Art in Wroclaw, *1998



Electroacoustic music[edit]

  • Warsaw Autumn Festival initiated by Baird and Serocki presented since 1956 works by Berg, Schönberg, or Bartók; Stockhausen or Schaeffer visited. [81]
  • Musica Electronica Nova, Wroclaw 2011
Electro-acoustic music studios and societies
  • Polish Radio Experimental Studio Warszawa - SEPR, *1957 (director: Marek Zwyrzykowski)
  • Electro-acoustic Music Studio at the Academy of Music in Krakow - SME, *1973 (director: Marek Choloniewski)
  • Studio for Computer Music at the Academy of Music in Warsaw (coordinator: Krzysztof Czaja)
  • Studio for Computer Composition at the Academy of Music in Wroclaw - SCC (director: Stanislaw Krupowicz)
  • Studio for Computer Music at the Academy of Music in Poznan (director: Lidia Zielinska)
  • Studio for Computer Music at the Academy of Music in Lodz (director: Krzysztof Knittel)
  • Independent studio of electroacoustic music (Niezależne Studio Muzyki Elektroakustycznej), 1982-84. "Created under the ideological leadership of Krzysztof Knittel. Apart from the two of us it was co-created by the following composers: Andrzej Mitan, Paweł Szamański, Stanisław Krupowicz, Andrzej Bieżan, Mieczysław Litwiński and Tadeusz Sudnik. We gave concerts in churches, artists’ studios, private apartments (all students’ clubs, Remont included, were closed). We cooperated with actors. Our {“Psalms” were very well received, they integrated people, and comforted them. After limitation and finally abolishing of the martial law, we implemented several important projects at the National Concert Hall in Warsaw, in the Krzysztofory Club in Krakow, and during the prestigious festival „Inventionen” in West Berlin." [84]
  • Electroacoustic Music Studio at the Academy of Music in Katowice, *1992 (director: Jaroslaw Mamczarski)
  • Studio for Computer Music at the Academy of Music in Gdansk (director: Krzysztof Olczak)
  • Studio for Computer Music at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz (coordinator: Dobromila Jaskot)
  • Studio for Computer Music at the Silesian University in Cieszyn (director: Krzysztof Gawlas)
  • Polish Society for Electroacoustic Music, Krakow *2005
  • Andrzej Mitan – W Świętej Racji, Alma Art, 003, 1984. [85]
  • Andrzej Mitan – Ptaki, Alma Art, Płyta nr 006, 1987. [86]
  • Krzysztof Knittel – Lapis / Low Sounds, Alma Art, Płyta nr 009, 1987. [87]
  • Bohdan Mazurek – Sentinel Hypothesis. Bôłt, BR ES02, 2010. [88]
  • Exploratory Music from Poland, 2-CD, 2010. Produced by Adam Mickiewicz Institute and AudioTong.net as a part of Polska!Year and given away to the subscribers of The Wire magazine. [89]

New media art, Media culture, Media theory[edit]


Bydgoszcz, Gdansk, Gdynia, Katowice, Kielce, Krakow, Lodz, Lublin, Ploc, Poznan, Szczecin, Toruń, Warszawa, Wroclaw, Zambrow.

Media theorists

Agnieszka Ogonowska, Andrzej Gwóźdź, Barbara Kita, Edwin Bendyk, Eugeniusz Wilk, Krystyna Wilkoszewska‎, Michał Ostrowicki‎‎, Monika Górska-Olesińska‎, Sław Krzemień-Ojak‎, Wiesław Godzic‎


Art theory, Art history[edit]

Ryszard Kluszczynski, Piotr Piotrowski, Lukasz Ronduda, Marcin Gizycki