Józef Jan Głogowski
The Daughters
15th december 2009
to 12th february 2009

(1893 – 1969)

Józef Głogowski made art history as photographer of experimental works by S. I. Witkiewicz, while his own picturesque photography is only now being researched and rediscovered. Petroleum engineer by education, and director of petroleum mines in Borysław (Lviv province), Głogowski was an amateur photographer. Nonetheless, his works testify to an excellent command of photographic techniques, their use goes beyond the traditional family album, this being an original example of the picturesque tradition which dominated Polish photography in the 1920s.  

Since the mid 1920s when, due to health reasons, he relocated to Zakopane with his wife and two daughters, Głogowski began creating charming portraits and scenes presenting his family and people from his closest circle. Made with the use of refined methods, the staged scenes and portrait studies are also an intimate account of the growing up of his two daughters.

Głogowski’s practice was strongly informed by contacts with other artists, and it was under their influence that he included pre-staged and experimental elements in his work. The photographer was acquainted with the sculptor August Zamoyski and his wife Rita Sacchetto, a dancer and producer of futurist performances. It was at this point that Głogowski realized the “Eastern” portraits of his daughters and wife dressed in outfits of Byzantine princesses borrowed from Sacchetto (e.g. Infanta the Zofia, 1927).

Though the portrait series still bears reference to staged 19th-century oriental photography, compared to later images of his daughters (where their similar appearance has the character of a multiplied sign), it can be seen as heralding a further collaboration between Głogowski and Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy), Polish writer, philosopher and painter.

Głogowski’s first expressive portraits of Witkacy date back to 1931. Their long-standing friendship brought a series 35mm photographs of Witkacy’s “mimic theatre” in which he experimented with his own image mocking  the convention of the bourgeoisie portrait by means of staged exaggerated scenes. The photographs also capture Witkacy’s theatre of the everyday – improvised episodes, absurd situations, and activities anticipating the modern performance art, which at times cast members of the Głogowski family. Głogowski’s oeuvre is symptomatic for the interwar period, as it brings together two approaches to artistic photography – the picturesque, which was already fading away, and the emerging modernism, based on the specificity of the medium.

11.11.2010 23:32:40

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Time of the daughters
silver print, sepia, 29,9 x 39,8 cm
29,9 × 39,8 cm