Artistic group of graphic artists and poets affiliated with the magazine Zdrój, active in the years 1918-1920 from Poznań. The name itself reveals the group's curricular opposition to the dominant traditions and the present state of art.
Artistic group of graphic artists and poets affiliated with the magazine Zdrój, active in the years 1918-1920 from Poznań.
The group included: Adam Bederski (poet, principal theoretician of the group), Jerzy Hulewicz (painter, graphic artist, editor of literary-artistic magazine Zdroj), Stanisław Kubicki (poet, journalist, graphic designer) and his wife Małgorzata Kubicka, Władysław Skotarek, Jerzy Szmaj, Jan Jerzy Wroniecki, August Zamoyski (the only sculptor in the group, also a member of the Formists). In 1918 Bunt was joined by Artur Maria Swinarski (writer, poet, graphic designer) and in 1920 by Jan Panieński (writer, graphic designer). Painter Jan Spychalski was a great sympathizer of the group. Most of the artists debuted either at the first joint exhibition of Bunt or in Zdrój and their artistic activity ended with the dismantling of the group.
The name itself reveals the group's curricular opposition to the dominant traditions and the present state of art. Searching for new ways of expression was a reaction to the popular art trends of that period: naturalism and impressionism, growing out of the opposition to the academy, yet not excessing the conventions of imaging established in the Western tradition (at least not sufficient enough according to young artists). The Bunt creators proclaimed the need for unfettered expression and the creative freedom in expressing emotions. Their demands and assumptions have been strongly inspired by expressionistic trends developing in Germany, in the sphere of such artistic groups as Die Brücke and journals Die Aktion and Der Sturm.
The members from Poznań had direct contacts with the German environment, in particular supported by Małgorzata and Stanisław Kubicki. Małgorzata had a German origin and Stanisław- born in Germany- studied in Berlin and as an activist of the Polish leftist academic circles was affiliated with the local Social Democrats and Spartacus League. Both of them belonged to the local commune of painters and poets. Hulewicz, Szmaj and Wroniecki studied in Germany as well. Zamoyski was also associated with the local communities, first as a prisoner of war in Berlin and later as he moved to Munich, where he made acquaintances with artists from the Der Blaue Reiter circle.
The short period of Bunt's existence lacked of a certain cohesion in their artistic operations. Year 1918 was intense and dynamic, it then held the group's first and most important exhibition. Originally it was to take place at the division of the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts in Poznań, but the TZSP president rejected several works by Zamoyski and Szmaja on charges of indecency, which resulted in transfering the exhibit to another place on Berlin street. The exhibition is accompanied by a lively discussion, the works were heavily criticized in the press, which presented voices of public outrage. A special issue - entitled the "Bunt Issue"- of the magazine Zdrój was released, devoted entirely to the group's presentation. It contained of poetry, drawings and woodcuts. It also included texts of a program-like context, determining the attitude of the environment such as Bederski's A Devout Reader / Czytelniku Pobożny inspired by the mysticism of To St. Rebel / Do Świętego Buntownika by Jerzy Hulewicz and Remarks / Uwagi by Stanisław Kubicki. Kubicki gave his statement a form of poetic aphorisms, eg.:
"The fight doesnt go about the image's aesthetic issues (...) yet about the human being and our day (which will come...)."
Stanisław Przybyszewski was most influential in shaping the ideological program of Zdrój. The Polish decadent, who at the time was living in Berlin, took an active part in editing the magazine. Due to his persona, nietzcheanism and Schopenhauer's became public for the Poznań enviroment, and Polish expressionists accepted the conviction of the artist's idiosyncratic role as an outstanding individual, who through art discovers essential truths of existence and gets through to the Absolute.
Przybyszewski's merit was also assigning the key role to intuitive cognition, which he understood as the opposition of the, previously dominant, rational and discursive cognition.
It became accepted as the only way of communication between an outstanding individual and the absolute reality. Another important source for the expressionists became the, disseminated by Przybyszewski, Polish romantic tradition, particularly the work of **os:Juliusz Słowacki**, among others discussed in the article entitled "Expressionism, Słowacki and Genesis from the spirit", published in Zdrój in 1918.
In the beginning, Bunt developed strong propaganda and educational activities. In cooperation with Zdrój, it organized lectures and meetings (during which were presented the assumptions of the new art), art evenings combined with presentations of literary and artistic work, as well as acting performances. Zamoyski in particular was very active in this field. The Bunt artists have also collaborated with Polish Expressionists (later known as the Formists). The groups would attend eachother's meeting and art evenings; some of the Bunt members, like Hulewicz or Zamoyski took part in shows prepared by the Formists, while Zdrój would occasionally publish the work of the artists from Kraków.
Thus what connected both of the environments was certainly the fascination with German Expressionism, as well as seeking original sources of expression, not yet utilized by the Western culture. This way, they became involved in a strong European trend of Naive Art, which was a sort of a replenishment to the unprofessional folk art as well as the art of African tribes, children or the mentally ill. The Poznań artists, who like their colleagues from Kraków, were fascinated by Naive Art- they understood this term, with a clear, positive purport, as folk carpentry, Tatra-like stained glass paintings and medieval woodcuts.
The common interests and artistic pursuits, along with a gradual bonding between enviroments resulted in a regular cooperation between the members of Bunt and the Formists. This became a source of tension and -eventually- conflict, when Hulewicz stared criticizing Zamoyski and Wroniecki for their attitude. The group's break-up was also caused by differences in political and social views.
For their entire duration, members of Bunt maintained in regular contact with the German enviroment, including editorial offices of Die Aktion and Der Sturm. The result of this collaboration were exhibitions held in Berlin in 1918: in June a collective presentation of works by the Bunt artists (which took place for the second and last time ever) and in September, Jerzy Hulewicz had a individual exhbition of his work.Die Aktion published two issues (containing reproductions and theoretical texts) devoted to these events.
The specificity of Bunt as a artistic group was a matter closely connected with the Zdrój magazine. It was supposed to realize projects based on the theoretical tips included in the periodical. In reality, they managed to achieve only a few of them, mainly those relating to freedom of creative explorations. It resulted in eclectism and diversity, despite its stated commitment to the expressionism formula. Thus their work was marked by traces of Cubism and Futurism, as well as some compositions derived from the tradition of Polish modernism and folk art. The work of the Poznań artists was often characterized by the presence of literary content, partly resulting from the attachment to the symbolism of Young Poland. In reference to this tradition, the artists eagerly undertook the subject matter of religion. Its present wasn't alway associated with the influence of art at the turn of the century, more essential was the fascination with folk art, Gothic and medieval mysticism. This inspiration was a contribution to the delineation of the modern man's moral renewal.
Religious themes, combined with reflection on human existence and his spiritual condition is present in many pieces, like in Jerzy Hulewicz's Cross. This significantly reformulated the standards designated by traditions of sacred art to make these themes current and meaningful for that time. The aesthetic values of these works, mostly presented in forms of graphics and drawings, corresponded to the objectives of expressionism in visual arts. Incisive contrasts of black and white emphasize the schematic and simplified forms. Dynamic compositions were mostly built by using diagonal, heavily accented lines, giving the impression of movement.
The above-mentioned reason prove that graphics were the most important medium of expression by the Bunt group (especially linocuts, woodcuts and drawings). Their values were well adequate to the demands of art posed in Zdrój. Paper techniques have became popular due to the magazine itself, which reproduced many illustrations, placing them in addition to the articles.
Bunt's activity began to wane around 1919 and permanently broke-up in 1920.
Author: Magdalena Wróblewska, December 2010. Translated by Sylwia Wojda, April 2011.