Artists and Designers
The Young Poland movement encompassed many hundreds of artists, designers, writers, musicians and dramatists. Here we list some of the key figures who developed or influenced the Young Poland aesthetic within the decorative and applied arts.
Among the key figures of the Young Poland movement, Wyspiański can most closely be considered a counterpart to William Morris. Nature and history were key subjects for both reformers and crucially, they shared a firm belief in the equality of fine and decorative arts. Like Morris, Wyspiański was a polymath whose prolific output included wall paintings, decorative patterns, stage sets, textiles, stained glass, book arts, church and domestic interior decoration, as well as achieving acclaim for his writing. Wyspiański was also instrumental in the foundation of the Polish Applied Arts Society in 1901, the equivalent of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, which raised the status of the decorative arts in Britain. Both men were also early champions of the preservation of historic buildings.
Critic, painter, illustrator and design reformer Stanisław Witkiewicz created the Zakopane Style of architecture and interior decoration which drew on the vernacular building traditions of communities who lived in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains. While the style developed before he became aware of John Ruskin and William Morris, Witkiewicz later said that his work had unknowingly fulfilled the theories of these British reformers. In 1899, Witkiewicz corresponded with Ruskin, sending him photographs of Zakopane Style projects; Ruskin replied appreciatively and regretted that his advanced age prevented him from visiting Zakopane himself.
Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska (1891—1945)
The polymath Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, famous as a playwright and poet, was a a painter of bold and intimate watercolours, often incorporating fantastic and macabre elements inspired by Polish folk traditions; the project explores this important aspect of her oeuvre for the first time.
Karol Kłosowski was a prolific artist and designer, whose patiently hand-crafted home, Silent Villa (Willa Cicha) in Zakopane, can be considered a Young Poland Gesamtkunstwerk. During his lifetime, Kłosowski produced thousands of paintings, drawings, furniture designs, architectural woodcarvings, kilims, embroideries and decorative schemes inspired by the landscape and wildlife of the Podhale region. Perhaps his most significant contribution to the Young Poland movement was his mastery and refinement of traditional lace making and paper cutting (wycinanki), which he called “a treasure trove of characteristically Polish motifs”.
One of Poland’s greatest painters, Matejko focused on subjects from Polish military history and national mythology. Although not strictly part of the Young Poland movement himself, Matejko taught some of its key figures at the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts, including Stanisław Wyspiański and Józef Mehoffer.
Czajkowski was one of the most influential architects and designers of the Young Poland period, fusing an early modernist aesthetic with traditional Polish craft disciplines. A key figure in the Polish Applied Arts Society and its successor the Krakow Workshops, Czajkowski believed modern design to be the perfect vehicle for expressing a distinctive Polish cultural identity.
Warchałowski is recognised as the leading theoretician of the movement to revive craft skills in Poland, and for his passionate defence of the importance of the decorative arts. He was commissioner for the hugely successful Polish section at the Paris Exhibition of 1925 and was a driving force behind the Krakow Workshops, acting as director from 1919-26. He also designed and painted kilims.
Mehoffer was one of the leading artists of the Young Poland movement. He was a member of The Polish Applied Arts Society, established in Kraków in 1901 by ardent supporters of the idea of a national style in design. Originally a painter of historical portraits, he later expanded his work to include different techniques, such as graphic art, stained glass, textiles, chalk drawings, etchings and book illustrations. He produced set designs for theatre, stylized furniture designs and in later life also created frescoes.
Buszek was an artist, theoretician and educator. He was instrumental in the programme of the Krakow Workshops, where his experimental pedagogical ideas of intuition and imaginative creation were particularly influential in the batik workshop. He also taught at the Society for Supporting the Folk Industry and the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.
Best known for his work as a bookbinder, Lenart studied in Zurich, Leipzig and London. He was the director of the model bookbinding and leatherwork studio at the Technical and Industrial Museum (1908-19) and later ran the typographic, printing and bookbinding studio at the Stefan Batory University in Vilnius (1919-29). He later became a conservator of antique manuscripts and published numerous works on bookbinding and its conservation.
Jastrzębowski was a polymath who achieved great success in a number of fields including painting, print making, furniture, textiles, stained glass and interior design. He studied under Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański before embarking on a successful career as an artist and lecturer.
Stryjeńska was a painter, printer and toy, kilim and set designer. She participated in many Polish and international competitions and won numerous awards, including Grands Prix at the Paris Exhibition of 1925 in four categories: architectural decoration, fabrics, books, and posters, as well as a diploma of honour in the toy-making section.
Gedliczka was an artist, painter, graphic artist, and designer of stained glass. He studied at the Academy of Arts in Krakow (1907-12). Some of Gedliczka’s most enduring designs are for Christmas decorations, which stand out for their visual and constructive coherence and contemporary appearance.
Kogut, alongside her sisters Maria and Józefa, were members of the hugely successful batik workshop at the Krakow Workshops. She was trained according to the methods of Antoni Buszek, which placed artistic intuition and imagination at the forefront of design. The Kogut sisters produced a wide array of batik decoration for textiles and woodwork.