Database

Kazimierz Mikulski

Born February 10 1918, Kraków
Lived in Kraków
Died July 27 1998, Kraków
 
Painter, actor, set designer, theatre director, illustrator, poet, and one of the representatives of Polish Surrealism, and poetic and lyricising painting. Mikulski belongs to the group of Krakow artists. With Tadeusz Kantor, he is one of the crucial figures on the local alternative theatre scene.
 

1938

At the end of the 1930's Kazimierz Mikulski started his studies at the Krakow Akademia sztuk pięknych/ Academy of Fine Arts. His teachers were Paweł Dadlez (1904-1940) and Kazimierz Sichulski (1879-1942). During the German occupation he continued his studies under Fryderyk Pautsch (1877-1950) at the Kunstgewerbeschule/ Szkola Przemysłu Artystycznego/ School of Arts and Trades. He made friends with his classmates Tadeusz Brzozowski (1918-1987) and Janina Kraupe (1921; later Kraupe-Świderska). They were bound by a common interest in the work of Tadeusz Makowski(1882-1932). He also began intensive relationships with Tadeusz Kantor (1915-1990) and Jerzy Nowosielski (1923-2011).

1943

Wystawa Grupy Młodych Plastyków (group exhibition, Kraków)

1945

1945-1948
After WWII Mikulski attended acting and directing courses in theStudio Dramatyczne/ Dramatic Studio at the Krakow Stary Teatr/ Old Theatre (1945-1946). In the summer of 1945 he participated in Warsztat Filmowy Młodych/ Film Workshops of the Youth. He was an actor in the Teatr Kameralny/ Chamber Theatre TUR until 1948.
In 1945 Mikulski joined Grupa Młodych Plastyków/ Group of Young Artists (in 1965-1967 he was chairman), and in the same year he made his debut in a group exhibition in Zakopane. During the first post-war years, Mikulski's work showed elements of Abstractionism educated by Surrealism, albeit very locally and personally influenced (Powrót syna marnotrawnego/ The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1948; Pejzaż romantyczny we mgle/ Romantic Landscape in Fog, 1948). His expression was comparable to that of Maria Jarema (1908-1958) and Jonasz Stern (1904-1988). Mikulski summarized his approach to painting in the article Historia sentymentalna/ Sentimental History in the Twórczość/ Creation monthly (1947).
Wystawa grupy Młodych Plastyków (group exhibition, Kraków)
I Wystawa plastyki (group exhibition, Zakopane)

1946

Wystawa Grupy Młodych Plastyków (group exhibition, Kraków)

1948

In 1948 Mikulski participated in I wystawy Sztuki Nowoczesnej/ 1st Exhibition of Contemporary Art at the Krakow Pałac sztuki/ Palace of Art. He presented his works with bizarre titles; Wieczorami słyszymy gwizd pociągów/ At Dusk We Hear Trains Whistling, Na przedmieścu spotykamy księżyc/ We Meet Moon in the Outskirts and Jesienią przy szpitalach kasztany z gipsu/ Autumn Gypsum Chestnut Trees in front of Hospitals (all 1948) which were a mixture of abstraction and realistic motifs (as in Joan Miró, for example).
1948-1979
Over three decades Mikulski worked as a stage designer and as artistic director for one of the most influential Polish theatres Teatr Lalki i Maski ‚Groteska‘/ Groteska Puppet and Mask Theatre. During that time he participated in around fifty plays as a stage designer, a costume designer, including masks and artistic designs. As with the art of painting, he held to the misappropriation poetics, circus poetics, and to a certain extent he approximated the aesthetics of Russian director Vsevolod Mejerchold (1874-1940).

Untitled (painting)
The exhibition of contemporary polish paintings (group exhibition, New York (NY))
Výstava mladých polských malířů (group exhibition, České Budějovice)
I Ogólnopolska wystawa sztuki nowoczesnej (group exhibition, Kraków)

1950

1950-1966
At the turn of the 1950's, human figures with distinct cheeks, as well as game and fantastic flora in almost Arcadian visions began to dominate Mikulski's works (Łąka/ Meadow, 1950; Zmierzch w każdąsobotę/ Twilight on Every Saturday, 1953). At the same time his expression was, in terms of the arrangement, very moderate and markedly linear. Some of his early canvases evoked melancholic, often circus poetics through their muted earthly colours and the predominance of free space with only a few stage properties (Lunapark I / Amusement Park I , 1950). The selection of richly metaphorical titles was closely related to his painting strategy.
Mikulski gradually gave up his efforts to capture three-dimensional space and no longer concentrated on the construction of a system of painting plans. One of his first works of the new type was Oczekawanie/ Expectation (1955) and the peak work was the Panna młoda – bukiet ślubny / Bride - Bride's Bouquet (1966). Thus, Kazimierz Mikulski both literally and metaphorically escaped from the socialist realism doctrine to the world of theatre.

1955

1955-1957
After his engagement in Kantor's underground theatre (1942-1944), Kazimierz Mikulski acted in the newly established Cricot 2 theatre in Krakow (Witkiewicz's plays Kurka wodna/ Moorhen and Nadobnisie i koczkodany/ Dainty Shapes and Hairy Apes) and also wrote plays. In 1956, the theatre company staged Mikulski's play Studnia, czyli głębia myśli/ Well, or depth of a thought and a year later the first theatre emballage, Cyrk/ Circus. Mikulski's paintings also revealed his fascination with the world of avant-garde theatre, as in the canvas Nocna próba/ Night Test (1954).

1957

In 1957, Mikulski joined the re-established Grupy Krakowské/ Krakow Group. As early as the 1940’s he participated in its groundbreaking Wystawy Sztuki Nowoczesnej/ Exhibitions of Contemporary Painting (Krakow 1948-1949) and also in later years(Warsaw 1957 and 1959). Besides painting, which was his major domain, he also produced drawings and book illustrations. In 1963, he illustrated Ludwik Jerzy Kern's (1920-2010) book Ferdynand Wspaniały/ Ferdinand the Great.

1958

Wystawa malarstwa Grupy Krakowskiej (group exhibition, Kraków)

1960

1960-1968
Mikulski's autonomous artistic expression was closely related to theatre plays and theatre design. A young girl with a mysteriously calm face, reminiscent of a mask, surrounded by rich decoration is a typical figure in his paintings. Good examples are canvases such as Zasadzka / Trap (1964), Próba portretu/ Attempted Portrait (1967), and Krajobraz zimowy/ Winter Landscape (1968).
[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Kraków)
[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Wrocław)

1961

[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Szczecin)

1962

Kazimierz Mikulski was granted the Nagroda Ministra Kultury i Sztuki/ Award of the Ministry of Culture and Art for his work in the area of theatre design.

1963

[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Warsaw)

1969

[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Warsaw)

1970

Malarstwo w Polsce Ludowej (group exhibition, Warsaw)

1973

XII Wystawa Grupy Krakowskiej (group exhibition, Kraków)

1974

1974-1975
In the 1970's, a new element appeared in Mikulski's works: collage. He used reproductions of iconic works from the European Renaissance (Botticelli) and later also paintings from theDutch Golden Age. He combined them with images of insects and birds and secondarily intervened in them with black ink. The resulting lines form nets or imaginary cages. The series was called Wizje końca świata przy czarnej kapie/ Vision of the End of the World over Black Coffee (and also Nocne ptaki/ Night Birds, Dzień owadów/ Day of the Insects and others).

Ravens (mixed media)

1975

In 1975, Mikulski acted in the Cricot 2 theatre in Krakow in Kantor's play Umarła klasa/ Dead Class.
XIII wystawa Grupy Krakowskiej (group exhibition, Kraków)

1977

1977-1980
After a series of collages, Mikulski worked on a cycle which combined ink drawing and watercolour, Fantastyka/ Fantasy. He complemented monochromatic black-and-white ink drawings, which he had previously used (Szymon Słupnik, 1976), with yellow and ochre shades. He settled his fantastic landscape scenes with similarly fantastic inhabitants, peculiar animals and figures with anthropomorphic characteristics, usually with visible sexual features. The uplands rising from the plain in the scene resembled women's breasts.
In addition to fantastic creatures, his typical iconographic motifs included cats (A nade mną kto?/ And Who Over Me?, 1976; Słuchanie ciszy/ Listening to Silence, 1977), birds (Znów skradziono korale/ Beads Stolen Again, 1978), and primarily girl-puppets. (Zniewolona/ Enslaved, 1979; Lunapark Magiczny teatr lalek/ Amusement Park. Magical Puppet Theatre, 1979-1980).
XIV Wystawa Grupy Krakowskiej (group exhibition, Kraków)

1978

[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Kraków)

1979

[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Warsaw)

1981

1981-1983
Mikulski's paintings from the early 1980's strongly evoked an accurately and thoughtfully constructed alternative to Surrealism. The series of night scenes (Nocny atak/ Night Attack, 1981; Nocne pokusy/ Night Temptation, 1982; I znowu mgły/ And Fog Again, 1982) was complemented by two daylight scenes: Duszność/ Breathlessness (983) and Ślad/ Footprint (1983).
Kolekcja Grupy Krakowskiej (group exhibition, Kraków)

1984

Grupa Krakowska 1932-37/ 1957-84 (group exhibition, Pécs)

1985

1985-1997
In the mid-1980's, the motif of a cobweb with a marked central point appeared in Mikulski's works (Rysunek/ Drawing, 1985). It often constituted part of a fantastic landscape scene made of human hair and birds' or human eyes (Spotkanie/ Meeting, 1985; Rysunek/ Drawing, 1997). The cobweb became another typical visual component, in addition to cats, birds, insects, and girls' cheeks and breasts.
[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Kraków)

1986

The Fantastic and the Metaphor (group exhibition, Stockholm)
[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Warsaw)

1987

1989

Mrożek w „ Grotesce” (solo exhibition, Kraków)

1991

1991-1997
In the first half of the 1990's, Mikulski made a series of twenty five drawings Cień kota w tajemnicy na wzgórzu/ Cat's Shadow in Secret on a Hill which fully concentrated his fairytale iconography. The reminiscence about a dead family cat was a metaphor for death and the eternal cycle of life. A similar motif also appeared in his drawing Dusze naszych ptaków/ Soul of Our Birds (1995).
Kolekcja sztuki XX wieku (group exhibition, Łódź)

1993

Artyści z Krakowa (group exhibition, Warsaw)

1995

[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Kraków)
Groteska – Teatr Lalki i Aktora 1945-95 (group exhibition, Kraków)

1996

Kazimierz Mikulski was awarded the Nagroda Honorowa Fundacji Kultury Polskiej/ Honorary Award of the Polish Culture Foundation.
Surrealiści Polscy (group exhibition, Elbląg)
Odwilż – sztuka ok. 1956 r. (group exhibition, Poznań)

1997

Nowe Obrazy (solo exhibition, Kraków)
Pokolenia (group exhibition, Warsaw)

1998

[Kazimierz Mikulski] (solo exhibition, Kraków)
Liryka i groteska Kazimierza Mikulskiego (solo exhibition, Kraków)
Bliźniemu swemu (group exhibition, Rzeszów)

2002

Europe. Art of the 60s (group exhibition, Halle (Saale))

2016

2018

Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2016