Wojciech Prażmowski is a photographer, born in Częstochowa in 1949.
In 1972-74, he attended Škola Vytvarnej Fotografie in Brno, the Czech Republic. He is a lecturer at the National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In the past, he also taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań. Prażmowski is a member of the Association of Polish Artists Photographers (ZPAF).
He began working as a photographer in the 1970s, initially involved in metaphorical photography, with elements of conceptualism. He received commissions from the Voivodeship Conservation Officer for Historic Monuments Częstochowa which were went beyond regular inventories in their nature. A breakthrough in his approach to photography, but most of all in the development of his personal style, came with the exhibition The First World Exhibition of the Spoiled Photographs (Pierwsza światowa wystawa zdjęć zepsutych, Mała Galeria ZPAF-CSW, Warsaw 1989). He presented in it an innovative approach to the notion of mise-en-scène, making reference to Jerzy Lewczyński's perception of family and anonymous photographs and sacrality, also apparent in Andrzej Różycki's photographs. Since that moment, Prażmowski has created photographs which conceptually express the contemporary history of Poland, along with its symbols and myths.
In the second half of the 1990s, he entered another stage in his creative activity, during which he produced photo-objects that could be displayed as autonomous works of art or otherwise used to create “staged photographs”. In this way, he underlined the duality of photographic material. His concept was akin to the actions of Christian Boltanski, which consisted in telling fictional histories, or at least in relativising them, as, in fact, every photograph contains an authentic story.
Ever since the beginning of his career, he has been keen on reaching towards photomontage, as well as intervening in the positive image, following in the footsteps of the Polish pictorialist photographers, as well as photographic experimenters from the group Zero 61.
In 1995, he launched his series Hommage à…, devoted to prominent 20th-century authors whom he has valued and whose ideas he intended to follow.
At the end of 1990s, he turned to documentary photography – a period which was reflected in his book White, Red, and Black (Biało-czerwono-czarna, 1999), a versatile depiction of Poland throughout the last decade of the 20th century.
He also produced large-scale colourful compositions, expressing a fauvist and modern understanding of colour, such as in the series Very Still Lifes (Bardzo martwe natury). At the beginning of the 21st century, he began to combine colour photography with documentary photography (the exhibition Zarzecze), thus manifesting his interest in searching for new meanings not just within the sphere of staged photography, but also in documents, for example.
His works belong to the collections of: Łódź Art Museum, CCA Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, The National Museum in Warsaw, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Author: Krzysztof Jurecki, Łódź Art Museum, March 2004, transl. AM, April 2015