Thursday, July 26, 2007

Stanislav Szukalski

525.jpg picture by hsvw

In the interest of a discussion about culture and its relationship with modern values, I offer Polish sculptor, draftsman, and armchair anthropologist Stanislav Szukalski. As it says in his biography, "
... plainly he was one of the greatest artists of this or any age, a relentless creative force that produced an incredible number of astonishing works during the course of a career that spanned seventy-five years. The story of his life is so interesting, and his list of achievements so extensive, that to give a proper account of them would take volumes."

... and you've probably never even heard of him. Where did he go wrong? His bio is here, and there are some hints in it, but mostly what it sounds like to me is, he pursued the transcendent, and was punished for his arrogance. Being batshit insane probably didn't help anything. Also, he's dead now, which is bound to put a crimp in your career.


Rufus said...

Szukalski is incredible. I posted a sculpture (Katyn) by him here a while back, and really I did so because my response to it was something like: "What the fuck?... Wow!... That's pretty incredible! But, what the fuck?..."

It seems like a lot of great artists have been batshit insane. But I think that certain types of crazy go over better than others. Tracy Emin getting drunk and acting like Courtney Love is endearing. Szukalski's loud and proud conviction of his own brilliance (even though he was right) probably turned people off.

I remember a friend in philosophy once telling me that Karl Popper's work became more popular after he died because he was something of a prick during his life so people didn't want to agree with his writings! It's probably the same with art.

Holly said...

In Szulkalski's case, I'm thinking it was things like physically ejecting appraisers from his studio, literally heaving them out the door, for perceived transgressions was a bigger problem. Also, his complicated theory about how we're all descended from Easter Island residents was undoubtedly unpopular. But he's been dead 20 years, and still not really getting props. The cover of Juxtapoz doesn't actually count.

Rufus said...

I didn't know he made the cover of Juxtapoz- that's still cool. But yeah it would be better if he was easier to see in galleries. I think I first saw him in Amok.

It's probably a bad idea to abuse patrons. Then again, I've actually championed the work of people who I found to be obnoxious in person. I almost expect great artists to be monsters.

Holly said...

Part of the problem with seeing him in galleries is that a huge amount of his work was lost in WWII. He was Poland's national sculptor around about 1937, and there was a museum JUST for his stuff. It got bombed and/or looted. I've noticed that web searches for pictures of his work mostly turns up the grey market art dealers, which points to looting. There is a fantastic gallery of his stuff on a Polish web site, though, I guess a great deal of his work prior to moving to the US in 1938 was documented.

Interestingly, he waved one of the primary flags of Postmodernism: He declared that he didn't have ANY influences, artistically. Given that half of his stuff is clearly derivative of other work, that's an awesome claim. Of course, he hated Picasso with a passion, which counts for something, I guess.