Interesting Facts about Katarzyna Kobro

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Katarzyna Kobro (June 27, 1925 – January 15, 2013) was one of the most fascinating and unusual painters of the 20th century. She was born in Łódź, Poland, and studied painting at the Warsaw Academy of Arts between 1944 and 1948. She worked with various artists throughout her life, including Yves Klein, Emil Filla, and Arman.

Here are some interesting facts about her:

1. The Beginning of Katarzyna Kobro’s Career

Katarzyna Kobro started her artistic career studying painting in Krakow before moving on to study sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiére in Paris. She would eventually be taught by famous sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, a student of Rodin. While studying under Bourdelle, she met fellow artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski, who would become her husband and creative partner. The two would go on to found the Union of the New Art (Związek Nowej Sztuki) with other Polish artists.

2. One of the Most Differentiated Sculptors

Katarzyna Kobro was one of the most popular sculptors in the inter-war period. However, due to the war, only some of her work remained, but they hold high merit among artists around the globe.

3. Katarzyna Kobro was born in Moscow, Russia, on January 26, 1898

The Russian sculptor was born in the capital city of Moscow on January 26, 1898. Gaining interest in the culture of art, she was enrolled in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture in 1917. This was where she met with like-minded individuals who motivated her to improve Russian art. [1]

4. She Created Her First Sculpture in 1920

Katarzyna created her first-ever sculpture in 1920. The work was given the name Tos 75-Stuktura, which is known to be a combination of cubism and futurism. It was made out of metal elements, glass, wood, and fragments of cork. However, the Tos 75-Struktura has since been lost, and all we have of it is a photograph. [1]

5. Katarzyna was known as a Tragic Figure of Twentieth-Century Polish Art

Katarzyna was a war exile and is known as one of the most tragic figures in twentieth-century Polish Art history. This is because of many reasons, such as some of her early work was looked at as waste and was thrown on the scrap-heap of the war.

She also had to go through a hard separation from her husband, Wladyslaw Strzeminski, which made it compulsory to earn for her child. Katarzyna also had to go through the hardships of appearing in court, where she had to defend herself against the claim that she “deviated from the Polish Nationality” because she signed “The Russian List” during the inter-war. [1]

6. After the War, Her Work Was Re-Sculptured

After the inter-war ended, some of her work was rebuilt so that people could relate to and get a sense of her innovation and idea.

7. Janusz Zagrodzki was the First Monographer of Her Oeuvre

After the creation of her first work, Katarzyna also made two other projects in the city of Smolensk from 1921 to 1922. The recreations by Janusz are known as Konstrukcje wiszace or the Hanging Constructions.

The first of the two creations relates to the idea of Malevich’s and Rodchenko’s suprematism and spatial realizations. It is made out of a wooden cube, an adjoining cuboid, and a metal rod. The work cannot be analyzed fully, as all that is left of it is a photograph.

The second creation was different and made out of pre-fabricated elements, according to Janusz Zagrodzki. An author states that the mutual arrangement of the particular forms with one another was not stable, the tension and vibrations of the steel elements caused new effects and the parts of the sculpture looked to be in constant motion. [1]

8. The Eight Missing Sculptures

Along with many of the missing works done by Katarzyna are eight sculptures. One of them is the Kompozycja Abstrakcyjna (Abstract Composition) which was made around 1924-1926. She also made two projects along with Wladyslaw Strzeminski during 1927-1928, called Projekt Kabiny Tytoniowej (Project for Tobacco Cabin) and Projekt Przedszkola Funkcjonalnego (Project of a Functional Kindergarten) made in 1932-1934.

Other than the two previously mentioned projects, four other projects were reconstructed by Jacusz Zagrodzki, from which two of them included Rzezby Abstrakcyjne (Abstract Sculptures) in 1924 and Kompozyjca Przestrzenna (Spatial Composition) in 1931. He was able to do this by preserving photographs and also since the sculptures were made out of metal and wood, which made it easier for Jacusz to restore.

The case was different for the sculptures Figurative Akt (Nude), which was created in 1931-1933, and the organic Akt (Nude) in 1933-1935 because they were made from plaster, making them hard to reconstruct. [2]

9. Moscow School of Painting and the Journey of Sculpturing

Katarzyna studied her craft of sculpture at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Painting in 1917. In 1918, she studied the topic at the Free State Art Studios.

Later on, in 1920, she moved to Smolensk, joining a group of artists working around Kazimir Malevich. She taught sculpture at the School of Ceramics along with designing theatre sets and posters. [3]

10. Family and Life with Wladyslaw Streminski

Katarzyna married painter Wladyslaw Streminski in 1920, and both were involved in the field of art during that time. After moving to Smolensk, Katarzyna’s father, mother, and sister shifted to Riga, Latvia. Her other sister, Maria, stayed in the capital of Russia, Moscow.

11. The Couple Became Famous in the Polish Avant-Garde

Katarzyna and Wladyslaw left the Soviet Union for Poland two years after their marriage in 1922, where they settled in the city of Lodz. The couple’s art, theories, and huge efforts in promoting modern art in the country gave them huge fame in the Polish Art Industry.

This popularity made Katarzyna a co-founder of many major national and international groups of art. Some of them include Blok (1924) Praesens (1926) Awangarda rzeczywista (1929), and Abstraction Creation (1931). She also signed manifestos like the Dimensionist Manifesto (1936). She also was part of the development of the Lodz Collection of Modern Art which was the third of its kind when it opened in 1931. [4]

12. Katarzyna Rejected Aestheticism, Subjectivism, and Individualism

Being a highly progressive avant-garde artist in the inter-war era, she refused to believe in philosophies like aestheticism, subjectivism, and individualism. She instead assumed and believed more in having an objectivist form. [5]

13. Katarzyna Was One of the Founders of the Museum of Art in Lodz (Poland)

The Museum of Art in Lodz, which was founded in 1930, focuses on displaying avant-garde art. Katarzyna and her husband, Wladyslaw Strzeminski, played a key role in the museum’s establishment. [6]

14. Her work is displayed in Various Museums

Katarzyna’s sculptures have faced global recognition by art enthusiasts, and her work has been displayed in various museums around the globe. These include the Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid, Spain), Museum of Modern Art (Midtown Manhattan, New York City), and Moderna Museet (Malmo, Sweden), and Whitechapel Gallery (London, United Kingdom).

15. Katarzyna Wrote a Book In 1931

Katarzyna’s most famous works include the philosophy book she wrote in 1931 along with her husband Wladyslaw Streminski called the “Composition of Space-Time Rhythm.”

The book revealed her take on how she wanted the field to be linked more with modern science. She also gained great fame for her sculpture series Kompozycja Przestrzenna (Spacial Compositions), which she made in 1925-1933. [7]

16. She Lost a Lot of Her Work When She Fled Poland

After the Nazis occupied Poland, Katarzyna and her husband, Wladyslaw, fled the country. This caused most of her work to be lost. However, passionate art historians restored and reproduced some of her work in the latter stages of the 20th century, which are displayed globally around the world. [7]

17. Google Celebrated Katarzyna Kobro’s Birthday

On January 26, 2022, Google commemorated the Polish artist’s 124th birthday. Google changed its logo by having Katarzyna’s unique sculptures for the letters of Google. [7]

18. Katarzyna Kobro Began Working with Metal in the Late 1920s

She made sculptures that combined geometric shapes. Her 1930 work “Sculpture for a Corner” combines a cube with a long metal rod. The same year she created “Composition,” consisting of two parallel planes, which she considered one of her most important works.

19. Katarzyna Attended the Moscow School of Painting

In 1913, she attended the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, where she studied under Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin and Mikhail Matyushin before graduating with honors two years later in 1915.

20. Katarzyna Moved to Paris in 1919

In 1919, she moved to Paris, where she worked as a sculptress with artist Naum Gabo and architect Antoine Pevsner.

Conclusion

An amazing talent that paved the way for many young Polish sculptors, Kobro was a fascinating figure in her own right, both at the time and today. She deserves recognition for the legacy she left behind, which we can continue to learn from and cherish.

References

  1. https://culture.pl/en/artist/katarzyna-kobro
  2. https://awarewomenartists.com/en/artiste/katarzyna-kobro/
  3. https://culture.pl/en/artist/katarzyna-kobro
  4. https://culture.pl/en/event/a-polish-avant-garde-katarzyna-kobro-wladyslaw-strzeminski-in-centre-pompidou
  5. https://www.artefact.space/a/katarzyna-kobro
  6. https://culture.pl/en/place/museum-of-art-in-lodz
  7. https://www.newsweek.com/google-doodle-january-26-who-katarzyna-kobro-art-sculpture-1673010

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