The lecture is an attempt to synthesise a specific area of arts – graphics arts at a specific time and place. This place is Bydgoszcz, a city that has never in its history been one of leading art centres. But the artistic life, despite the often unfavourable conditions, has developed here extensively.
I would like to offer you a journey through almost two centuries in the footsteps of graphics artists who lived and worked in this city, in the traces of their works scattered in museum, library and private collections that make up the diverse and rich picture of the environment.
The origins of graphics art in Bydgoszcz will be introduced by the nineteenth-century German lithography plants, such as Carl Wilhelm Bellach’s, which produced panoramas and views of the city recording the now non-existent world. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the documentary and iconographic works were replaced by prints focusing on the artistic values. Albrecht Bruck, Otto Sager and Karl Schulz were German artists doing usually etchings in which they presented picturesque parts of the city. In the interwar period, in the circle of the State School of Artistic Industry and the State Industrial School, there were two graphics designers active – Karol Mondral and Piotr Chmura, whose work influenced the development of local graphics art. The milieu of graphics artists, in comparison with the painters, was small, but each of the artists active back then had their individual style, evident in the works of Franciszek Konitzer, Stanisław Brzęczkowski, Stefan Szmaja and Aleksander Winnicki-Radziewicz.
The development of graphics arts since 1945 in the then province of Bydgoszcz, especially in Bydgoszcz and Torun, was characterised by two art schools – the High School of Fine Arts in Bydgoszcz (National School of Fine Arts, now Leon Wyczółkowski Complex of Art Schools) and the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun (Department of Graphics Art). In the Bydgoszcz school Brzęczkowski organised the Department of Graphics, which taught the issues of graphics art, applied graphics, printing and bookbinding. The variety of graphics arts in the 2nd half of the twentieth century, the trends and tendencies appearing in the next decades, as well as the multiplicity of techniques will be introduced by the works of, among others: Bronisław Z. Nowicki, Anna Sroczanka, Andrzej Nowacki, Henryk Głowacz, Teodor Krupski, Zdzisław Nowak, Franciszek Sylwanowicz and Łukasz Płotkowski. An interesting episode in the history of graphics art in Bydgoszcz was the establishment of Grupa Czterech (the Group of Four – 1965), which brought together graphics designers and illustrators (Roman Kobierski, Zenon Kubiak, A. Nowacki, Z. Nowak).
The Bydgoszcz graphics art of the last three decades will be represented by the works of Ewa Gordon, Piotr Gojowy, Jacek Soliński, Jan Gordon, Aleksandra Bojarska, Jarosław Nowak, as well as graphics artists representing the youngest generation of creators – Marta Ipczyńska, Marta Bindek and Agata Ciesielska.
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 interwar period. Curator and coordinator of the program – a series of graphics exhibitions and scientific sessions “Multitude in unity” (2009-2018).