August Zamoyski was a sculptor. He was born in 1893 in Jabłoń, Lublin Voivodeship, and died in 1970 in Saint-Clar-de-Rivière in France.
Sculptor, born in 1893 in Jabłoń,Lublin Viovodeship, died in 1970 in Saint-Clar-de-Rivière in France.
From 1916 to 1918 he studied drawing at Lewin-Funke Schule in Berlin. He continued his studies at the Kunstgewerbeschule sculpture studio in Munich. During his stay in the city, he met Stanisław Przybyszewski, who introduced him to the Bunt Poznań Expressionist group. After returning to his homeland, he took part in the activities of the group, and later moved to Zakopane, where he joined up and became involved with the activities of the area's young, bohemian artists. Along with Leon Chwistek, Tytus Czyżewski and Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz he co-founded the Polish Expressionists group, which soon took the name of the Formists. In 1920, he visited New York. From 1923 onwards, he lived mainly in France. In 1929, he was the main organizer of the exhibition of Polish art in Paris. From 1940 to 1955 he lived in Brazil, where he founded and led schools of sculpture in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. From 1955 until his death he lived and worked in France.
August Zamoyski, one of the most acclaimed Polish sculptors of 20th century, was long underestimated in his home country due his work being scattered around the world, as well as to the reluctance of cultural administrators in the Polish People’s Republic to an artist-emigre of aristocratic descent.
At the beginning of his career the artist embarked on experiments referring to Expressionism, Cubism and Futurism. He created sculptures (mostly portraits), and he aimed at synthesizing their forms reaching an ultimately abstract arrangement of blocks that represented the essence of the personality of the portrayed person. At the same time, he developed an interested in the innovative form of theatre and co-created futuristic performances together with the Italian dancer Rita Sacchetto (his wife).
He gave up these experiments in 1923, organizing a show entitled The End of Formism in Zakopane, during which he demonstratively smashed some of his own Formist sculptures.
In the later period he created works of a more realistic character, but always leaning toward far-reaching synthesis and monumental hieratics. The main themes of his works came to be nudes and portraits of women (among others: Venus, Franka, Ewa, Wierka’s Head). He was an advocate of carving sculptures directly in hard materials, which evolved into a kind of artistic belief, and found expression in Zamoyski’s diaries.
Zamoyski arrived to Brazil during the II World War, on July 14th 1940, after a two week boat trip. He lived there until 1955. Invited by the minister Gustavo Capanema, he conducted a Free Course of Sculpture, organised by the Ministry of Education and Culture. In March 1941 he was nominated a professor of the Art School in Rio de Janeiro by the president Getúlio Vargas. In 1942 he married a Brasilian painter and set designer Bella Paes Leme. In 1950 he conducted a similar course in the Art Museum in São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (MASP). He taught sculpture techniques in many materials: stone, bronze, clay, gypsum. His disciples were, among others, Franz Weissmann (1911-2005), a famous Brasilian sculptor born in Austria, painter and set designer Bellá Paes Leme (1910), Vera Mindlin (1920-1985) and José Pedrosa (1915-2002).
In 1951 Zamoyski took part in the I International Biennale in São Paulo, and in 1954 he had an individual exhibition in Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM/SP). He founded the Formists' Club, which searched for the pure form, free from any duty of presenting nature. Together with another sculptor, the Italian Ernesto de Fiori, he shaped the younger generation. In September 1954, a year before leaving Brasil, during an international Philosophical Congress in São Paulo, Zamoyski gave a lecture entitled Art and Substance.
In the artist's Brasilian works his technical abilities are most evident, although both the subject and the way the material is transformed, have no relation to avant-garde experiments from his earlier career (when he referenced expressionism, cubism and futurism).
Among the works that remain in Brasil, the most famous are: Chopin's statue on Praia Vermehla in Rio de Janeiro (a gift from the Polish immigrants to the city of Rio de Janeiro, unveiled on the fifth anniversary of the beginning of World War II, on September 1st 1944) and Nu, a monumental bronze sculpture, showing a naked woman, which belongs to the collection of Art Museum in Pampuhla in Belo Horizonte.
In 1982 August Zamoyski's works were presented on a collective exhibition „The Age of Sculpture” (Um Século de Escultura) in MASP, and in 2004 in Museu de Arte da Pampulha (MAP) in Belo Horizonte.
The last period of Zamoyski’s work is often called ‘Expressionist’ due to his use of sharp deformations. His work came to be dominated by religious subject matter. Sculptures from this period include Pieta, St. John the Baptist, and Resurrection, intended for his own tomb in Saint-Clar-de-Rivière in France.
Author: Piotr Szubert, the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, February 2002, transl. GS, August 2015; updated by Aleksandra Pluta, November 2015.