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Wojciech Fangor1969

The National Museum in Krakow

The National Museum in Krakow

Wojciech Fangor (1922 – 2015) was a painter, sculptor and poster artist. He belongs to a narrow group of the best known Polish contemporary artists. He graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. His artistic path began in the period of socialist realism (politically conditioned art that was prevalent in the 1950s in the Polish People’s Republic). After 1956, he abandoned this way of thinking about painting. He was one of the leading representatives of the Polish poster school. In 1958, together with Stanisław Zamecznik, he presented the Study of Space – the first spatial installation in Poland.

In 1961 Wojciech Fangor left Poland and received scholarships from the Institute for Contemporary Art in Washington, Berlin and England. In 1970, he was the first Polish artist to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. His paintings from this period were experiments on the junction of minimal art and op-art. Wheels and waves evoked optical effects. A critic Bożena Kowalska wrote: “Fangor’s wheels were a constant, multilateral experiment. In their arrangement he constantly tested in a new way the effects of brightness and muted colours, the degree of saturation and brightness of colour, the ring size, larger and smaller width of the bands and their density or modesty of expression. (...)”

Transitions between colors are elusive – at the same time they attract and repel our eyesight. The lack of clear boundaries between colors introduces a feeling of indefiniteness of forms and elusiveness of the permeating colors. In the “wheels” painted by Fangor we can trace the sfumato painting technique, practiced and described by Leonardo da Vinci. Wojciech Fangor used it to make a goal from a measure, a way from a tool. The synonym of Sfumato in Fangor’s art is penetration and indefiniteness. Thanks to the change of transitions between colors, the change of the border between contrasting colors, he gains space for visual penetration.

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