1960 - 1963

FACTORY, Tadeusz Sumiński

Archeology of Photography Foundation

The gallery presents selection of industrial photographs by Polish photographer - Tadeusz Sumiński. Most of them was taken in 60’ for the magazine “La Revue Polonaise” which aim was to promote Poland abroad.

Tadeusz Sumiński was documentary photographer working in 60s- 80s. He called himself landscape photographer but his archive contains all topics such as: travel, fashion or architecture.

An important role in his work is occupied by industrial photographs commissioned for „La Revue Polonaise”. Although the magazine was rather propagandist, Sumiński's photos represent documentary value most of all. This is also bound up with the status of the photographed objects, as many of the industrial plants documented by Sumiński no longer exist, while others function as part of larger corporations.” Some of this shots also brings to mind iconic photographs such as Bernd and Hilla Bechers’ industrial landscapes.

The significance of Sumiński’s industrial photos goes beyond their documentary quality. Full of abstract forms, they emanate with the power of regular, geometric elements, whether in machinery or architecture; their meticulous composition and technical perfection seduces the viewer. Sumiński knows how to highlight the textures of objects. He is as precise in framing factory towers or the bending lines of machinery as he is in disentangling a maze of pipes inside a flour mill. By courtesy of his vision and the selected work format, Tadeusz Sumiński achieves outstanding formal values and a particularly pleasing visual effect in his industrial photographs.
The first trace of the presence of industrial themes in Sumiński’s legacy was the discovery in his archive of about one hundred prints showing close-ups of machines, products or other materials, sometimes larger fragments of industrial architecture. Several prints from this series – treated as standalone images – were submitted by the author to various photography competitions, and several other, in large formats, were shown in exhibitions. Although the original commissions had been official and propagandistic in nature, Sumiński proceeded to make prints for himself and used a selected part of the material for artistic purposes.
The negatives, offering an insight into Sumiński’s photographic process as a whole, reveal a broader context of the portrayed industrial facilities; here, we find not just close--ups and details – which dominate in the positives – but also numerous interior views, long shots, and portraits. The photographer often repeats certain takes, due probably to difficult lighting conditions and the longer exposure times needed as a result. In the successive frames, often long shots, there also appear silhouettes of posing workers, serving here as staffage.
Sumiński worked using 6 x 6 cm negative film but often croped his prints to a rectangular format. Also in the photoreports published in La Revue Polonaise full formats appear only sporadically.
The ability to browse through all of the industrial documentation preserved in Sumiński’s archive reveals shots that were never published, due both to their unsuitability as well as their inconsistence with the editorial guidelines and the propagandistic functions they were to fulfil.
In some of Tadeusz Sumiński’s industrial photographs - those, what were kind of his creative ‘getaway’ from commercial jobs or the photo-essays for Polska - he highlights the forms of industrial objects and presents their shapes or the rhythms of their elements in a quintessentiall abstract manner.
Archeology of Photography Foundation www.faf.org.pl
Credits: Story

Used fragments of texts: by Marta Przybyło- Ibadullajev ''The Exemplary Mill'. On Tadeusz Sumiński's Industrial Photography' and by Wojciech Wilczyk 'Tadeusz Sumiński: a Forgotten Industrialist' from the book "Tadeusz Sumiński, Industrial", published by Archeology of Photography Foundation, Warsaw 2014.

Archeology of Photography Foundation from Warsaw, Poland is taking care of Taduesz Suminski's archive.

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Credits: All media
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