Konsolidacja środowiska artystycznego międzywojennej Gdyni. Miejscowy oddział Związku Zawodowego Polskich Artystów Plastyków


  • Aleksandra Juszczyk Słupsk


The paradox is that the consolidation of a previously inconsistent and disintegrated  artistic environment of the Inter‑war Gdynia and the establishment of the local branch of the „Trade Union of Polish Artists,” owes a lot to two painters from outside  Pomerania: a resident of Vilnius educated mainly in Krakow and Warsaw, Marian Szyszko‑Bohusz (born in Lodz on April 11, 1902), and a resident of Lodz, a graduate from the Warsaw School of Fine Arts Zygmunt Cywiński (born in Trokienniki in the Vilnius region on February 15, 1901 ). It is true, that in 1933 the local painter, maritime historian, Marian Mokwa created the Union of Seaside Artists, but this initiative failed. Cywiński and Szyszko‑Bohusz studied under the colourist painter Felicjan Szczesny Kowarski at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts (Warsaw Fine Arts School), and they were not supporters of traditional realistic painting. Already during their studies, they experienced the excitement of Gdynia: a young agglomeration.

Cywiński probably did not move to Gdynia on a permanent basis. He stayed there in a rented apartment with the sea view (which served as his painting inspiration) at the „Rose Grove” Guest Hhouse at Stone Mountain, which belonged to his friend Jan Gasiński’s mother. Meanwhile Szyszko‑Bohusz lived in Gdynia since 1929. He commuted to work in Gdańsk, where he was a teacher of drawing and mathematics. He taught drawing in a primary school in Gdynia; he also lectured „Urban Courses For Adults” in Gdynia.

Cywiński came to Gdynia for professional reasons for the first time in 1933, when he was the main speaker at the Mobile Art Exhibition. the second of the series of travelling exhibitions, whose goal was to promote „modern high art” in society (especially in the poorer circles and deprived of the possibility of contact with art sections).

One of the most interesting of the cultural‑artistic initiatives in Gdynia were „Thursday Soirees in Żeromski’s House,” meetings held in 1935–39, initiated by journalists, novelists, and art lovers, and led by painters: the married couple Zygmunt and Lita Cywiński and Marian Szyszko‑Bohusz. It seems that the initiative to organize such meetings came from the need to consolidate the intellectual environment in Gdynia, to promote fine arts and culture. From November 1935 to April 1939 about 90 meetings were organized, all of them extremely successful. Initially, speakers were recruited only from among the local artists and novelists, however with time the events were attended by such celebrities as Zofia Nałkowska, Maria Dąbrowska, Melchior Wańkowicz, Tadeusz Boy‑Żeleński, Maria Pawlikowska‑Jasnorzewska, Magdalena Samozwaniec, Juliusz Kaden‑Bandrowski, Maria Kuncewiczowa, Ewa Szelburg‑Zarembina, and Wojciech Kossak. Under the patronage of „Thursday Soirees” eight art exhibitions were held (e.g. works of Zygmunt Cywiński, Marian Szyszko‑Bohusz, Zofia Szyszko‑Bohusz, Anna Lityńska, Kazimierz Pręczkowski, Kazimierz Jodzewicz, Aleksander Wysocki, „Engraving” Group). The „Thursday Soirees” and artistic initiatives, as well as exhibitions under their auspices or related to them (collective exhibition of Marian Szyszko‑Bohusz, Zofia Szyszko‑Bohusz, and Tadeusz Kulisiewicz), led to the consolidation of the Gdynia artistic community.

In the second half of July 1936, Szyszko‑Bohusz and Cywiński created the so‑called „Gdynia Group of Artists,” which gathered: Marian Szyszko‑Bohusz, Anna Lityńska, Zygmunt Cywiński, Zofia Szyszko‑Bohusz, Czeslaw Raczewski, Emil Ruecker, and Aleksander Wysocki.

The existence of this group contributed to the foundation (on January 17, 1937) of the „Trade Union of Polish Artists” in Gdynia (the first on the coast, and the sixth in the country, beside Cracow, Warsaw, Lvov, Łódź and Poznań), meant to defend the interests of professional artists in Poland. However, a serious ideological assumption of the „Trade Union of Polish Artists” was a decisive protest against all manifestations of nationalism in Polish art. The „Trade Union” was opposed to official art and patronage institutions, which inhibited the freedom of artistic expression (for example, the Society for the Propagation of Polish Art Abroad). It was also critical of the Block of Professional Artists, a competition representation of professional artists in Poland.

The president of the Gdynia branch was Marian Szyszko‑Bohusz, and a part of the founding group were vice presidents: Jerzy Muller and Czeslaw Raczewski; secretary: Zygmunt Cywiński: treasurer: Alexander Wysocki; members of the Audit Committee: Tadeusz Jędrzejewski and Tadeusz Feliks Smolarski. After the death of Czeslaw Raczewski his position was taken over by Zygmunt Cywiński. Other members of the „Trade Union” were, among others: Jerzy Kozlowski, Maria Zabłocka, Maksymilian Kasprowicz, Jan Gasiński, Jacek Żuławski, and Hanna Jasińska‑Żuławska.

In total, the Union had 16 real members: artists‑painters (9), graphic artists (3), decorators and sculptors (1), and architects (3). In addition, it also comprised several „candidates”, including Gdynia’s artists.

Opinions on Gdynia’s „Trade Union” were different: the president of the Brotherhood of St. Luke Jan Zamoyski believed its members to be dilettantes without talent (excluding Szyszko‑Bohusz). A similar view on the Union was voiced by Artur Maria Swinarski, who called it the „settee association”. Whereas Henryk Chudziński (who was an opponent of Szyszko‑Bohusz and Cywiński and, did not rank among enthusiasts of painting, to say the least) evaluated the importance of the Union on the cultural map of the city.

Within the framework of the „Trade Union of Polish Artists” in Gdynia until the outbreak of World War II about 16 exhibitions were displayed, both within the Spring Exhibition and the Winter Exhibition; there were also individual art shows (e.g. works of Marian Szyszko‑Bohusz, Zygmunt Cywiński, Jan Gasiński, Czesław Raczewski, Włodzimierz Dunin‑Marcinkiewicz, Felix Smolarski, Aleksander Wysocki, Maria Zabłocka, Czesław Raczewski, Ernest Raulin, Jacek Żuławski, Hanna Żuławska‑Jasieńska, Jozef Rogowski, Teodora Białokoz, Franciszek Błeszyński, Bogumił Nowicki, Barbara Sielicka, Tadeusz Szpak, Leon Staniszewski, Thomas Ottokar, Barbara Wilkicka, Barbara Wejhert). It is true that thanks to Cywiński and Szyszko‑Bohusz, artists were able to band together in a serious trade union and regularly present exhibitions. It seems that the authorities of the „Union” were also efficient managers, taking care of the financial interests of its artists.

















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Juszczyk, A. . (2015). Konsolidacja środowiska artystycznego międzywojennej Gdyni. Miejscowy oddział Związku Zawodowego Polskich Artystów Plastyków. Porta Aurea, (14), 158–177. Pobrano z https://czasopisma.bg.ug.edu.pl/index.php/portaaurea/article/view/6922