Henryk Stażewski – Studio of the Avant-Garde
Henryk Stażewski – Studio of the Avant-Garde
The exhibition is dedicated to the unique place that from the very beginning has been an important point on the cultural map of Warsaw in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.
In 1962, a new resident moved to the studio on the top floor of a high-rise building on Świerczewskiego Street – Henryk Stażewski, an accomplished member of the pre-war avant-garde of the 1920s and 30s, and, after the war, a leading representative of geometric abstraction. Living with him were painter Maria Ewa (“Mewa”) Łunkiewicz-Rogoyska and her husband Jan.
In 1970, after Mewa’s death, Edward Krasiński moved into the studio with Stażewski. Over the following fifteen years, the studio on Świerczewskiego Street was the most interesting artistic salon in Warsaw, sharing an invisible connection with another place just as unique, namely the Foksal Gallery.
Artists who formed Stażewski’s social circle not only frequented the gallery but featured and created their works there – some of them were ephemeral in nature, while others still exist today.
It was there that, following Stażewski’s death in 1987, Edward Krasiński started to create a unique in situ installation, which consisted of a blue line running through all rooms at the height of 130 cm. This conceptual gesture began in 1968 during the famous party in Zalesie. The blue line without beginning or end, made with adhesive tape, became a hallmark of Edward Krasiński’s artistic identity.
Today, the unchanged space of the studio is an integral part of the Avant-Guard Institute, formed after a glass pavilion designed by the Dutch architectural studio BAR was erected on the studio terrace.
The exhibition is part of the centenary of the avant-garde in Poland, organized on the initiative of the Museum of Art in Łódź. It is worth noting Henryk Stażewski was one of the founders of the museum, established in 1930.
More about the centenary of the avant-garde in Poland here.
Featured at the exhibition are works from the collection of: Signum Foundation, “Zachęta” National Gallery of Art, Koji Kamoji Studio, and Daniel Buren’s studio.
Curator: Grzegorz Musiał
Text accompanying the exhibition: Klara Czerniewska-Andryszczyk:
In the early 1960s, on the top floor of each of the five high-rise buildings on Świerczewskiego Street in the new Bielańska housing estate, wedged between the newly rebuilt Old Town and the Bank Square in Warsaw, two art studios were created on the initiative of the Union of Artists.
According to the 1979 census, the studios were offered to the following artists: Colonel Zdzisław Bogaczewicz, painter, head of production at the Military Cartographic Plant; Przemysław Brykalski, painter, member of the legendary Self-Education Group established by Andrzej Wróblewski; sculptor Maria Maliszewska and painter Eliżbieta Świdzińska-Borczewska, today both virtually unknown; glass designer Wszewłod Sarnecki, as well as the well-known painters Jerzy Tchórzewski and Jacek Sempolinski. None of them, however, contributed to the legend of the studio in the number 64 building.
In 1962, Henryk Stażewski moved in there along with painter Maria Ewa Łunkiewicz-Rogoyska and her husband Jan. It was them, later joined by Edward Krasiński, who turned the spacious studio into the PLACE.
The apartment-studio served not only as a space where these three – stylistically very diverse and unique – artists worked. It was a meeting space – visited daily by friends of the residents, artists and intellectuals, who often brought guests from abroad with them. Stażewski, in whom the ethos of the first pre-war avant-garde met with the younger generation of artists and critics, attracted crowds, and his studio was a must-see point for “study visits” – famous visitors included icons of conceptual and neo-avant-garde art, such as Christian Boltansky, Laurence Weiner, Emmett Williams, or curator and art historian Arturo Schwarz.
During the four decades of its history, the studio served as a scene for other artists on several occasions: in 1974, Daniel Buren carried out his intervention as part of Gallerie 21, sticking on the windows of the studio characteristic white 8.7 cm wide stripes framing the view, and a year later the film Santa Conversazione by Marek Konieczny was made on the terrace, which features, aside from gold-covered parts of the protagonists’ bodies, only blue sky in the background. In 1993, also on the terrace, one of Krasiński’s closest friends, Koji Kamoji, presented his intervention. His minimalist work Bottom of the Sky was composed of a flat rectangular polished aluminum sheet laid out on the ground. It reflected the sky and everyone who wanted to glimpse at it by looking down.
In 2004, after the death of Krasiński – the last resident of the studio, the space was “mummified.” Works that the residents had left (one by Łunkiewicz and another by Stażewski) as well as their memories (holes in the walls where nails used to be, twisted wires hanging from the ceiling), utensils, Krasiński’s installations accumulated over the years, his memorabilia, photographs pasted directly on the wall (Amici di Tworki), even his flannel shirt in the closet, remained where they were. The studio terrace was rearranged for exhibition purposes. The next generation of artists, critics and curators refer to the idea of the PLACE, introducing their own new narratives.
Signum Foundation Gallery, ul. Piotrkowska 85, Łódź