Updated: Nov 13, 2022
Photo by Mariusz Cieszewski
On the occasion of Wojciech Fangor’s centennial, a brief overview of his work:
1. Socialist realism
During World War II Fangor studied art with Felicjan Kowarski and Tadeusz Pruszkowski and obtained his diploma in 1946 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. When in 1949 the authorities instated realism as the only legitimate form of art, Fangor began painting his signature 'characters' of contemporary Polish society.
Following Joseph Stalin's death, in 1953, Fangor turned away from socialist realism. In 1958, along with an architect Stanislaw Zamecznik, he created the world’s first spatial installation: Study of Space (Studium Przestrzeni) - creative thinking about environment and space.
Stanisław Zamecznik and Wojciech Fangor, Study of Space, Gallery of New Culture in The Jewish Theatre, Warsaw, 1958
Fangor was one of the co-founders of The Polish School of Posters. In 1953 - 1961, he created more than 100 posters.
1959 poster for Renga Joko (Yasuki Chiba, Japan, 1940)/1952 poster Trent's last case (Herbert Wicox, Great Britain, 1952)/1958 poster for Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda, Poland) 1958
4. Op art
Fangor called this new stage of his work “positive illusive space.” He described it as an illusion of the space activated between the viewer and the surface of the painting. As the op artist, he became the first Pole to have an individual exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City (1970).
E 22, 1965/M 22, 1969/SU 16, 1972
5. Figurative painting
During his stay in the USA (1966 – 1999), Fangor returned to figurative painting with the series "Television Paintings." From the artist's notebook: After my arrival in the USA, I found myself in a world that was more and more based on electronic communication. Television, being a surrogate for immediate human contacts, has become a game between natural electro-optical effects, and the cultural-mythical stream that pours out of it. This is how the TV painting series came to existence. When changing the subject, I’m changing the choice of means of expression. Which causes distinction in the specific periods of my work. But whether my paintings are skinny or fat, tall or small, freckled or squinted, they all have the same father although different mothers. All of them belong to one family and they dive at the same time.
Interview, 1980/Panocek 3, 1977/S3.900, 1982 (detail)
Fangor designed the mosaics of the underground Warszawa Śródmieście railway station, opened in 1963. The underground interior is decorated with Fangor mosaics. The color scheme used in the mosaics is: blue and green represent the west, red, orange and yellow – the east. In 2020, this work (6,000 square meters) was entered in the registry of historic Polish monuments.
Phot. Mazowiecki Wojewódzki Konserwator Zabytków
In 2007 Fangor designed the signage of seven stations of the second subway line in Warsaw (Dworzec Wileński, Stadion Narodowy, Powiśle, Nowy Świat, Świętokrzyska, Rondo ONZ and Rondo Daszyńskiego).
Wojciech Fangor (15 November 1922, Warsaw – 25 October 2015, Warsaw) was a Polish painter, graphic artist, sculptor, designer.
Exhibitions commemorating 100th birthday of Wojciech Fangor: