Painter, operatic and theatrical scenery designer, professor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow; born 19 September 1936 in Brdów near Kościelec Kolski.
In 1953 he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, where he studied under professors Karol Frycz, Andrzej Stopka and Adam Marczyński. He became a student of Frycz in the Stage Design Department in 1956, and graduated with honors in 1959, receiving his diploma for his visual design of Juliusz Słowacki's Horsztyński directed by Bronisław Dąbrowski at the Słowacki Theatre (Teatr im. Juliusza Słowackiego) in Krakow. He went on to design scenery at many dramatic theatres, among others at Krakow's Stary Theatre (Stary Teatr), where he worked on Tennessee Williams's Orpheus Descending directed by Jerzy Jarocki (1962), and at the Słowacki Theatre, where he designed Bohdan Korzeniewski's staging of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida (1960). He subsequently illustrated a 1968 edition of the latter play for The Folio Society of London. His credits in the early 1960s also included designing a production titled Gabinet osobliwości / The Curiosity Shop, written by Henryk Tomaszewski and staged by him at the Pantomime Theatre (Wrocławski Teatr Pantomimy) in Wrocław (1961), as well as Maurice Ravel's Daphne and Chloe and Igor Stravinsky's Petrushka, both of which Tomaszewski directed and choreographed at the Wrocław Opera (1961). In 1962 Kreütz-Majewski received an Italian government scholarship and enrolled in a one-year program at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. That same year he first worked for the Warsaw Opera, designing the scenery for Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Claude Debussy's The Prodigal Son and Arthur Honegger's Judith, all of which were directed and choreographed by Alfred Rodriguez. Just a few years later, he was appointed chief stage designer at the Grand Theatre (Teatr Wielki - Opera Narodowa) in Warsaw, retaining this position for almost forty years, until 2005. In the mid 1960s the artist also embarked on what would become a great international career featuring collaborations with some of the world's most renowned theatres, including the Covent Garden, the Paris Opera, the Teatro Colon, the Teatro Sao Carlos, the Piccolo Teatro and the Burghtheater. Kreütz-Majewski has, in the process, worked with outstanding conductors like Carl Böhm, Herbert von Karajan, Zubin Mehta, Nello Santi and George Solti, as well as exceptional directors like August Everding, Giancarlo del Monaco, Jean-Claude Ribera, Frank de Quell, John Schlesinger and Hans Heugebauer. His collaborators have also included a number of preeminent choreographers, including Serge Lifar, John Neumeier and Peter van Dyck.
Andrzej Kreütz-Majewski often reiterated that the theatre was everything to him.
"It is whatever I want it to be - sometimes Eden, at other times the gutter. The end result is always somehow comforting." ("Teatr" monthly, 1991, no. 4)
Theatre amused him from early on; as a child he exhibited a penchant for building realistic scale models. He describes his theatre as a place of great emotions and flaunting gestures where one finds strong expression instead of reticence. The designer feels at home in the vast spaces of opera houses, but he has also shown himself capable of devising sets for small, intimate stages. His achievements include designs for the Witkacy Theatre in Zakopane, including a production titled Np. Edyp / E.G. Oedipus based on Sophocles and directed by Andrzej Dziuk (1987). Kreütz-Majewski's works for the theatre seem dominated by painterly thinking often manifested through the use of color. This becomes the basis of the stage image while textures and spatial forms become highly expansive, evoking the expression and theatricality of Baroque stylistics. Yet Majewski also refers to Romantic art, pursuing one of its chief stipulations - i.e. to reveal the inner spiritual landscape of humans. Throughout his long creative career, the designer increasingly universalized meaning, more and more often employing a symbolic, timeless language beyond any specific culture. His theatre was described as one of grand metaphors or as the theatre of cruel miracles. Much like his painted works, his designs convey a strong sense of solitude and impermanence, an existential fear of death, and a sense of external threat that the artist projects by creating harsh theatrical, visual imagery that seems to issue from a singular sensitivity.
"Wartime experiences, images from childhood and youth contained in enduring fears and dreams, an oppressive claustrophobic obsession, all processed creatively, are reflected in enclosed spaces: walls, parks, walls without doors or windows, planes suspended overhead," wrote Agnieszka Koecher-Hensel. "All this conveys a sense of seclusion. Yet this is no safe asylum that protects one from the world outside. Rather, it is imprisonment without possibility of escape (even though enclosures in Majewski's sets are always penetrated by a ray of light or possess an outlet)." ("Teatr" monthly, 1990, no. 10)
In the 1960s and 1970s Kreütz-Majewski contributed to many important productions at foreign theatres, working, among others, on the works of Richard Strauss. He designed a number of productions for director August Everding, including Salome at London's Covent Garden (1970), Electra at the Hamburg Opera (1973) and Paris Opera (1974), as well as Carl Orff's De temporum fine comoedia for the Salzburg Festival (1973). The artist also designed the scenery for Jacques Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman directed by Hans Neugebauer (1976), Luigi Cherubini's Medea as staged by Giancarlo del Monaco (1978) and Alban Berg's Wozzeck directed by Jean Claude Riber (1979) at the Grand Théâtre de Geneve.
Throughout this period, he continued to work at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw, designing the scenery for Peter Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (1967) directed by Lidia Zamkow, Aleksander Bardini's productions of Verdi's Otello (1969) and Richard Strauss's Electra (1971), Jan Świderski's staging of Modest Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov (1972) and for Krzysztof Penderecki's Diabły z Loudun / The Devils of Loudon (1975) directed by Kazimierz Dejmek. Andrzej Kreütz-Majewski first designed and directed an opera on his own in 1979, staging Penderecki's Pasja / Passion as a great mystery play and striving to present a drama of pure ideas. The human condition in history and in the face of changing ideals was also the central issue in the artist's next independently mounted production, Karol Szymanowski's Król Roger / King Roger (1983), featuring visuals clearly inspired by the paintings of Böcklin. In the 1980s Kreütz-Majewski also worked in Warsaw with Marek Grzesiński, designing the set for the director's stagings of Giacomo Puccini's Turandot (1984) and Reiner Kunad's The Master and Margarita (1987). In their mood these works highlighted Man's fear and the external threats to which he is exposed.
The artist collaborated with prominent director Kazimierz Dejmek in both the dramatic theatre and in opera. The duo created productions in Poland and abroad, mounting Eugene Ionesco's The Killing Game at the Burgtheater in Vienna (1971), Stefan Żeromski's Sułkowski at the Dramatic Theatre (Teatr Dramatyczny) in Warsaw (1974), Witold Gombrowicz's Operetka / Operetta (1975) and Sławomir Mrożek's Garbus / The Hunchback (1975) at the New Theatre (Teatr Nowy) in Łódź, Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Deadline at the Schauspielhaus in Zurich (1977) and Stanisław Wyspiański's Wyzwolenie / Liberation at the Polish Theatre (Teatr Polski) in Warsaw (1982). One of their most important projects was La Passione at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan (1972), a morality tale set in scenery resembling the carcass of a ship run aground - an image the duo drew from the parable of St. Peter's boat.
In the 1980s and 1990s Kreütz-Majewski completed a number of important projects, including Richard Strauss's Ariadne at Naxos directed by Jean Claude Riber at the Teatro National de Sao Carlos in Lisbon (1980), Karol Szymanowski's King Roger staged by Aleksander Bardini at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires (1981), Maurice Ravel's Daphne and Chloe choreographed by Peter van Dyck at the Opernhaus in Bonn (1987), Eben's Jeremiah at the Národni Divadlo (1998) and Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Théatre Municipal in Luxembourg (1998).
The artist's first solo show of paintings was held in 1957 at Tadeusz Kantor's Cricot-2 Theatre in in Krakow. Thereafter, Andrzej Kreütz-Majewski exhibited his canvasses and stage designs on numerous occasions both in Poland and abroad, at such venues as the Wright Hepburn Gallery in London (1968 and 1970), the Foyer Gallery in Cologne (1968) and the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City (1974). His scenery designs were additionally shown at the Library of the Arsenal in Paris (1974), while exhibitions of his canvasses were organized at the Muda-2 Gallery in Hamburg (1985), the Venice Biennale (1986) and the Varszinház Gallery in Budapest (1992) among other venues. In 1986 Majewski exhibited his paintings as well as his theatrical set, costume and prop designs at the Prague Quadrennial International Exhibition of Scenography and Theatre Architecture. In 1984 the Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw mounted a vast monographic exhibition of 280 of the artist's most outstanding paintings and stage designs, while in 1990 the Silesian Museum opened the Andrzej Majewski Gallery at its Centre of Polish Stage Design. In the same year the Galerie der Deutschen Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf presented an exhibition of Majewski's stage designs for productions directed by August Everding. And in 2003 the Grand Theatre in Warsaw presented the artist's paintings and stage designs in an exhibition titled "Flashback".
Significant awards and distinctions:
1961 - Paris Art Biennale - 2nd prize for scenery design for Shakespeare's Hamlet
1963 - Award of the Minister of Culture and Art 3rd class
1966 - Scenery Design Triennale in Novy Sad - Gold Medal in Scenery Design for Igor Stravinsky's Orpheus directed by Alfredo Rodriguez at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw; State Award 1st class
1967 - Prague Quadrennial International Exhibition of Scenography - Gold Medal in Scenery Design for Igor Stravinsky's Orpheus directed by Alfredo Rodriguez at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw
1975 - Award of the Minister of Culture and Art 1st class
1988 - "Individual of Merit for Polish Culture" Medal
1998 - Commander's Cross of the Order of the Restitution of PolandAuthor: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, September 2005.
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