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Introduction - Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, Poland

In visual arts education, the capital’s Fine Arts Academy (ASP) leads the way. Graduates include artists who, in the 20th century, were able not only to create their own language of art, but also to fight their way through to a wider audience. In the 1950s, ASP students included two prominent personalities of Polish and international sculpture: M. Abakanowicz and W. Hasior. The works of Abakanowicz, the laureate of the main award at the Biennial in São Paulo in 1965, are milestones in the language of contemporary visual arts.

A professor with the ASP, Henryk Tomaszewski is one of the world’s most outstanding graphic artists, recognized as the father of the contemporary Polish poster school, which had a considerable influence on European graphic arts in the second half of the 20th century. Many of Tomaszewski’s works have gone down in the history of modern art, including a poster for the fourth, and the first postwar, Frédéric Chopin International Piano Competition in 1949.

The ASP in Cracow takes pride in the grand painting traditions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After the school became independent in 1873, its director was Jan Matejko, the giant of Polish historical painting—exemplified by Bitwa pod Grunwaldem (The Battle of Tannenberg) and Stańczyk. At that time, the school was the only art academy in Poland. At the turn of the century, a period abounding in new trends in painting, the academy assembled painters whose works fetch record prices at auctions today: Tadeusz Axentowicz, Jacek Malczewski, Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański. In the 1920s, a branch of the Cracow ASP existed in Paris. After WW II, artists connected with the Cracow ASP’s department of painting included Tadeusz Kantor, known to the world as the founder of the Cricot 2 avant-garde theater, and Jerzy Nowosielski, one of the most outstanding contemporary painters, and creator of a famous series of pictures inspired by icons.

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