In the panorama of Polish sculpture of the inter-war period, the Bydgoszcz sculptural community is one of the least known. A small group of artists did not manage to form a clear character. Bydgoszcz’s sculpture of that time comprised of two complementary trends – the traditional one, which grew on the foundation of a strong centre of the wood industry with thriving carpentry, furniture and sculpting and carving plants, and the second one, which was heading towards modernity, in line with current stylistic trends. The presented lecture aims to present the work of a selected group of sculptors, working in Bydgoszcz in the inter-war period, whose pioneering activity set specific directions for the development of local sculpture.
The development of a small sculpting centre in the 1920s was connected with the State School of the Artistic Industry and then the State Industrial School. The teaching staff were sculptors: Jan Wysocki, Feliks Giecewicz and Jerzy Wankiewicz. The work of Kazimierz Lipiński and Marian Kiersnowski, who were involved in sculpture, woodcarving and furniture-making, was also connected with this circle.
The breakthrough in Bydgoszcz’s sculpture came at the end of the 1920s, when the mature work of the school’s graduates – Piotr Triebler, Teodor Gajewski and Bronisław Kłobucki – active in Bydgoszcz for the whole 20 years, came to full fruition. Their activities included, among others, monumental sculpture, sacral figures, chamber sculpture, small relief and objects that were the equipment of church interiors. The profiles and works of sculptors connected with Bydgoszcz temporarily – Zygmunt Kowalewski and Stefan Kiersnowski – were also presented.
The presented works of art will bring closer the works known from inter-war exhibitions, objects still in churches, as well as figures and monuments that enriched the city space, including the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculately Conceived by Feliks Giecewicz which was set up in front of the Church of the Holy Trinity, and the Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ by Piotr Triebler and Teodor Gajewski. Sculptors from Bydgoszcz also worked outside the city, creating e.g. the relief altar antependia by Roman Skręt can be found in St. Lawrence’s Church in Nakło, and the grand monument of the Wielkopolska Insurgents – one of many joint works by Gajewski and Triebler – in the cemetery in Gniezno. Even in distant Kodeń on the Bug river, we can find objects made in Bydgoszcz’s workshops and sculpting studios.
Barbara Chojnacka – art historian, museologist, senior curator, head of the Graphics Department in the Leon Wyczółkowski Regional Museum in Bydgoszcz. She conducts research on the Polish graphics art of the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as the art and artistic life of Bydgoszcz and the region, especially in the inter war period. Curator of exhibitions and coordinator of the program – a series of graphics exhibitions and scientific sessions Multitude in unity (2009-2018).