Henryk Stażewski

Henryk Stażewski

Born January 9 1894, Warsaw
Died June 10 1988, Warsaw

Henryk Stażewski, pioneer of classical avant-garde of twenties and thirties, is one of the key figures of the Polish art scene of the last century. He was a member of numerous domestic and foreign progressive artistic groups (Cercle et Carré, Blok, Praesens), among his companions belonged Hans Arp and Piet Mondrian. Stażewski was inspired by cubism, constructivism and geometric abstraction of the sixties, seventies and eighties. Apart from free creation Stażewski was also devoted to interior design, set design and graphics.

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Stażewski studied under the leadership of professor Stanislaw Lentz (1861-1920) at the Szkoła Sztuk Pieknych in Warsaw. During his studies, he met Mieczyslaw Szczuka (1898-1927), Teresa Zarnowerowna (1895-1950), Marie Nicz-Borowiak (1896-1944), Jan Golus (1895-1964), Aleksander Rafałowski (1894-1981) and Wanda Melcer. In 1917, he joined the first of the Polish avant-garde groups Ekspresjoniści Polscy/ Polish Expressionists (after 1919 Formiści/ Formists). His realistic aquarelles with the feel of impressionism have been preserved from the pre-war period


After the school was closed, Stażewski volunteered to join the Legie Akademicke/ Academic Legions. He debuted in 1920 in a group exhibition in Towarzystwu Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych/ Association for the Encouragement of Fine Arts in Warsaw (predecessor of the Galerie Zachęta). In May 1921, he participated in the Formists' exhibition with his painting Anarchiści/ Anarchists (1921). Neither this work nor his others from the early twenties have been preserved. However, he was classified as a cubist by the critics of the day. In December of the same year, he exhibited with Mieczyslav Szczuka and Edmund Miller (Polski Klub Artystyczny/ Polish Arts Club), and in May of the following year, he participated in the third exhibition of the Formists F9 in Warsaw.



Trzecia Wystawa Grupy Formistow F9 (group exhibition, Warsaw)
Wystawa Nowej Sztuki (group exhibition, Vilnius)


The year 1923 was his first breakthrough. The Wystawa Nowej Sztuki (New Art Exhibition, Corso) was held in Vilnius in May, and Stażewski presented his works alongside those of Szczuka, Teresa Zarnoweróvna, Karol Kryńké (1900-1944) and Marie Puciaty. It was the first presentation of Polish and Lithuanian constructivism. The catalogue and the manifesto, which also followed the principles of constructivism / suprematism in typography, was edited by Stażewski and Witold Kajruksztis (1890-1961), also a member of the group. In December, Stażewski participated in the International Exhibition of New Art in Łodz (Międzynarodowa Wystawa Nowej Sztuki). Stażewski's constructivist period is distinctive for his reflection on the Unism theory of Władysław Strzemiński (1893-1952). It is manifest as the architectonic conception of the painting's structure, working with the texture of individual planes, distinguishing figural elements, and the inclusion of written motifs in the geometric system of compositions.
Międzynarodowa Wystawa Młodej Sztuki (group exhibition, Łódź)


Stażewski joined the Blok, a group of cubists, constructivists, and suprematists. He associated with Wladystaw Strzeminski, Mieczystaw Szczuka, Teresa Zarnowerówna, Karol Kryński, Witold Kajruksztis, Edmund Miller, Katarzyna Kobro (1898-1951), Henryk Berlewi (1894-1967), Mieczystaw Szulc, and later with Maria Nicz-Borowiakova, Aleksander Rafałowski, and Jan Golus. The programme mainly focused on the defense of the autonomy of art as a construction of pure forms, independent from an actual operation, including its economic and social connotations. The movement was greatly inspired by the Russian avant-gardists (Władyslaw Strzeminski was in close contact with Kazimir Malevich). The Praesens (1926-1929) and a.r. (1929-1936) groups continued the activities of the Block. The Blok and Praesens also used magazine platforms of the same name. After 1924, Stażewski travelled a great deal. During a visit to Paris he met Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) and Michel Seuphor (1901-1999).


International Theatre Exposition (group exhibition, New York (NY))
1st International Exhibition of Modern Architecture (group exhibition, Warsaw)
I-sza Wystawa Grupy Artystycznej Praesens (group exhibition, Warsaw)


Polish Modern Art (group exhibition, Prague)
Machine Age Exposition (group exhibition, New York (NY))
Salon of the Polish Architects Association (group exhibition, Warsaw)


Wystawa Niezależnych (group exhibition, Warsaw)
Modernist Salon (group exhibition, Warsaw)
II Salon of the Polish Architects Association (group exhibition, Warsaw)
Salon Związku Zawodowego Polskich Artystów Plastyków (group exhibition, Warsaw)


In 1929, Stażewski became a member of the international group Cercle et Carre/ Circle and Square in Paris which was later renamed Abstraction-Creation (from 1931
I Exposition Internationale de Groupe Cercle et Carré (group exhibition, Paris)
II Salon des Surindependents (group exhibition, Paris)
Powszechna Wystawa Krajowa (group exhibition, Poznań)
Exposition d´Art Polonais Moderne (group exhibition, Paris)


Salon Listopadowy IPS-u (group exhibition, Warsaw)



Salon Wiosenny (group exhibition, Warsaw)
Wystawa Drukarstwa Nowoczesnego (group exhibition, Łódź)


[Instytut Propagandy Sztuki] (group exhibition, Łódź)
Wystawa Grupy Plastyków Nowoczesnych (group exhibition, Warsaw)




Konstruktivisten (group exhibition, Basel)


In the mid-1940's, Stażewski joined the artistic and scientific club (Klub Młodych Artystów i Naukowców/ Club of Young Artists and Scientists). He closely cooperated with the Krzywe Koło/ Crooked Circle gallery in Warsaw. From the 1930's, Stażewski's work was admittedly abstract. Besides geometric elements he also used organic forms (Kompozycja abstrakcyjna III/ Abstract Composition III, 1958). He attributed an important role to colours. At the turn of the 1940's and 1950's, he returned to figuration in his works, e.g. free still life allusions were frequent (Martwa natura/ Still Life, 1956), figural still lifes (Ucieczka/ Escape, 1947


I Salon Warszawski ZPAP (group exhibition, Warsaw)
III Ogólnopolski Salon Malarstwa, Rzeźby i Grafiki (group exhibition, Poznań)
[Wystawa grupy malarzy awangardowych] (group exhibition, Warsaw)


Mladí polští malíři (group exhibition, Prague)
Wystawa Młodej Plastyki (group exhibition, Warsaw)
Druga Doroczna Wystawa ZPAP okręgu Warszawskiego (group exhibition, Warsaw)
I Exhibition of Modern Art (group exhibition, Kraków)


II Ogólnopolska Wystawa Plastyki (group exhibition, Warsaw)


Stażewski published the text Sztuka abstrakcyjna/ Abstract Art.
III Ogólnopolska Wystawa Plastyki (group exhibition, Warsaw)


In the second half of the 1950's, relief started to appear in Stażewski's works. Relaxation, colourfulness, and a combination of organic forms and elements were typical of the early variations (Relief, 1955). In the early 1960's, Stażewski used raster structuring for the surface and inclined to the colour white (Relief malowany, biały/ Painted Relief, White, 1961). The period was later referred to as the White Period. His interest in the infinity of combinatorial possibilities and the opposing principles of order/chaos lead him to experiment(Relief szary i bialy 9 / Grey and Black Relief No. 9., 1964). From 1964 to 1967, he made a series of copper reliefs whose metallic surface made it possible for him to play with light (Relief miedziany 9/ Copper Relief 9, 1965). The paradoxical combination of the geometrical structure and non-functional composition rhythm was the topic of the early 1970's (Relief 2/ Relief 2, 1972).


Arguments 1962 (group exhibition, Warsaw)


In 1965, Stażewski, Wiesław Borowski, Anka Ptaszkowska and Mariusz Tchorek established the Galeria Foksal gallery. In 1966, he received an award at the Venice Biennale and six years later he won the Gottfried von Herder Prize from the Viennese University. The late 1960's and the 1970's witnessed a further deepening of Stażewski's tendency to subject the artistic work to the objectivizing laws of science. He used a coloured square as a basic element and its appearance was changed by the slightest change to its toning or structure (Kompozycja/ Composition, 1974-1979


Stażewski created a light installation 9 promieni swiatla na niebie / 9 Rays of Light in the Sky (1970) for the symposium in Wroclaw. In the 1970's, his use of colour became significantly relaxed. His admitted expressive potential was in a direct opposition to the restrictive system of geometrical rules (Promienie barw/ Rays of Colours, 1980). The process culminated in the early 1980's when the colours became a playful element of geometric compositions (Kompozycja/ Compositions, 1983).


No. 45 - 1973
No. 45 - 1973 (painting)


In 1975, Stażewski dealt with the analysis of George de la Tour's compositions (1593-1652). To his understanding, geometry was a common language and a link between arts of all times. A year later, he demonstrated his conclusions in the series of paintings Redukcje/ Reductions (1976), in which lines in opposing directions often met on a radically white canvas. The series expressed Stażewski's believe in the validity of geometric rules and at the same time, the essential ability of the human eye to reduce the infinite number of possible solutions.
55 - A
55 - A (painting)
No. 55
No. 55 (painting)


No. 48
No. 48 (painting)
No. 49
No. 49 (painting)
No.81 (painting)


No. 3
No. 3 (painting)
No. 28
No. 28 (painting)


In 1980, Stażewski organized an exchange programme between Polish and American artists. He used the acquired works to support the Lodz Museum of Arts, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the international collection of modern art.
1 - 1980 (painting)

Henryk Stazewski (solo exhibition, Bottrop )


2 - 1982 (painting)


Small is beautifull (group exhibition, Warsaw)


Bestandsaufnahme XII (group exhibition, Bochum)


Art in Central Europe 1949–1999 (group exhibition, Barcelona)


Henryk Stazewski: Reliefs (solo exhibition, Warsaw)
The Foksal Gallery's Deposit (group exhibition, Warsaw)
In Between : Art. From Poland, 1945 - 2000 (group exhibition, Chicago (IL))


The Art of Geometry (group exhibition, Słupsk)


33 protagonistov historickej avantgardy (group exhibition, Bratislava)



Game. From the Zachęta Collection (group exhibition, Warsaw)
Living Color (group exhibition, Budapest)


Painting, Process and Expansion (group exhibition, Vienna)
Things evoke feelings (group exhibition, Warsaw)
L’emotion et la regle (group exhibition, Lyons)
Unmistakable Sentences. The Collection Revisited (group exhibition, Budapest)


Blue Scotch (group exhibition, Kraków)
z kolekcji ... Landscape? (group exhibition, Kraków)
Carpet Cleaning - ms2 (group exhibition, Łódź)
Polský konstruktivismus (group exhibition, )
Museum der Wünsche (group exhibition, Vienna)


Correspondences Modern Art and Universalism (group exhibition, Łódź)
Aufbruch - Malerei und realer Raum (group exhibition, Würzburg )
f(J)=J² (group exhibition, Kraków)
From Tizian to Warhol / Olomouc Museum of Art 1951-2011 (group exhibition, Olomouc)

Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2021