Wladyslaw Strzeminski Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz
Wojska Polskiego 121
The Academy of Fine Arts (ASP) in Łódź, initially the State Higher School of Visual Arts (Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Sztuk Plastycznych - PWSSP), was founded in 1945. It was established by artists connected with Lodz after the war: Władysław Strzeminski, Stefan Wegner, Felicjan Szczęsny-Kowarski, Roman Modzelewski, Ludwik Tyrowicz, Władysław Daszewski and Stanisław Byrski. The WSSP was housed at 77 Narutowicza Street. Eighty students enrolled in the first year.
At first there were just three faculties: Textile Studies, headed by Leon Ormezowski, Ceramics headed by Julia Kotarbińska, and Graphic Arts headed by Ludwik Tyrowicz. The first director was Leon Ormezowski, a colourist painter. The school's profile was defined within the first two years. It was designed to offer an education in applied arts, but also "pure arts". The main specializations were ceramics, textile studies, furniture, and printing on fabrics. The school's founders intentionally invoked the Bauhaus tradition. From the beginning, the PWSSP in Lodz wanted to work closely with local and nation-wide industry. Students were required to prepared projects for practical implementation. The goals were grand. However, the political situation in Poland thwarted the Lodz artists' ambitious plans.
"In the early post-war years, the inveterate antagonism between supporters of the tradition of conservative 19th-century academism and the tight and vigorous local avant-garde was revived in the Artists' Association in Lodz, and consequently at the School. Representatives of both orientations worked together on organizing the School and argued over its image and ideological programme from the start. Soon the supporters of the avant-garde had the advantage; they were a smaller group but more aggressive, united by a shared idea, convincing by the strength of their faith. The decisive factor here was primarily Strzemiński's personality". (Henryk Anders, "Wspomnienia i refleksje o szkole" /" Memories and Reflections on the School")
The 1946/47 school year saw the founding, next to the faculties of Textile Studies and Ceramics, of the Faculty of Spatial Arts, headed by Władysław Strzemiński, founder of the A.R. group. He was the strongest and greatest personality at the Lodz school. He based the curriculum on the A.R. group's programme. He supported connecting art with industry. He wanted to influence everyday life through visual arts. His strong personality had an impact on the students. He taught classes in three studios: composition and principles of form, art history, and typography. He wanted the Lodz school to provide foundations for intellectual and general artistic development. As key issues, he emphasized visual awareness and working on form. Students valued him as a teacher; he was demanding and inspired a constant search for new solutions. In Poland's post-war artistic higher education system dominated by the colourists, the Lodz school was a unique enclave of modernity. That is why its activities were quickly curtailed by the state authorities.
"We kept closely in touch with the professor even after he had been dismissed from the school by the communist authorities, who were afraid that his influence could be a barrier to imposing the doctrine of socialist realism. This move by the ministry and the school actually achieved the opposite of what was intended, making us immune to the temptation of an ideological career. With his dismissal, the school lost its greatest artist, a brilliant teacher, and the highest example of selflessness, commitment, and faithfulness to one's professed values". (Stanisław Fijałkowski, "O Władysławie Strzemińskim" / "About Wladyslaw Strzeminski")
Stefan Wegner became rector in 1949. This was a time of toughening domestic policies in Poland. Socialist realism became the binding doctrine in art. A party cell was set up at the Lodz school. Students were encouraged to join the communist party. The MA degree, until then the crowning of five years of studies, was abolished. This was a blow aimed at students. State dictatorship destroyed the avant-garde community in Lodz. The school changed the profile that its founders had developed. It never achieved the standard it had represented when Strzeminski was a teacher there (1945-1949). Another restriction was the closing down of the Faculty of Spatial Arts. Politically dangerous, Strzemiński was dismissed from the school, which deprived him of a means of livelihood.
"Socialist-realism tendencies began increasing from 1949. The minister of culture and art, Włodzimierz Sokorski, thought the Faculty of Spatial Arts was dangerous to 'the only correct art of socialist realism'. This was a situation analogous to the elimination of the Bauhaus and related modern art in Germany in the inter-war years. The Architectural Art Department was closed down. First and foremost, W. Strzemiński was dismissed, effective immediately, recognized as the initiator of teaching 'that disgusting imperialist art of the depraved West'". (Stefan Krygier, "Wspomnienia" / "Memoirs")
In 1950-52 the rector, appointed by the Ministry of Culture and Art, was Stanisław Borysowski. He was followed by Roman Modzelewski, a teacher of painting and drawing (until 1963). To him, the school owes mainly the establishment of lasting and effective contacts with local industry. These gave students job opportunities and ensured a sales outlet for projects prepared during classes. The Lodz PWSSP collaborated with the Ministry of Light Industry and its affiliated Commission for Fashion Programming. Thanks to financial support from industry, additional assistant lecturer jobs were created, and teachers of technical subjects were employed. Partly thanks to grants from industry, new buildings were constructed at 79 Narutowicza Street and in Wierzbowa Street. Modzelewski's activity was aimed at creating a strong link between art and life. It was a continuation of Strzemiński's plans. This direction of the school's development lasted until 1971.
In 1950, after the "Mangelowa law" was passed, work began on creating a single-faculty structure. The Faculty of Interior Design was in liquidation. The Faculty of Textile Design became the leading faculty. The Department of Art History and Art Theory was established in 1956. In the mid-1960's there were two faculties again: Textiles and Clothing. A Fashion Magazine Graphics Studio was set up in the late 1960's, headed by Stefan Krygier. In accordance with the authorities' plans, the Lodz school was limited to one specialization: textile studies.
"The 1970's were a time of serious change at the school, both in terms of structure and organization of teaching. In the 1971/72 academic year, the Basic Studies School was restored. Beside the Faculty of Clothing and Textile Design, the Faculty of Graphic Arts was established. Proposals for a new model of education were approved. Subjects designed to stimulated students' creative searches appeared". (Grzegorz Sztabiński, "Sztuka-Szkoła-Nauczanie. Problemy teoretyczne w dziejach PWSSP im. Władysława Strzemińskiego w Łodzi" / "Art-School-Teaching. Theoretical Problems in the History of the Wladyslaw Strzeminski PWSSP in Lodz")
Roman Artymowski became the school's rector in 1971. The faculties of Textiles and Clothing were combined, the Faculty of Graphic Arts was established as well as the Photography Laboratory.In 1976, a new building on Wojska Polskiego Street was opened, and remains the headquarters of the Lodz school to this day.
In the 1980's, due to the collapse of local industry, the school had to change its profile yet again. It became necessary to educate artists who would be able to survive and work on the market by themselves.
On 23 April 1988 the school took on the name of Władysław Strzemiński. The official ceremony included lectures, meetings, an exhibition of Strzemiński's works at the PWSSP Gallery, and the launch of the book STRZEMINSKI IN MEMORIAM.
Professor Jerzy Treliński became the school's rector in the 1993/94 academic year. During his term, four faculties were established: Textiles and Clothing, Graphic Arts, Industrial Forms, and Visual Education. In 1996, the Lodz school obtained the status of an Academy of Fine Arts.
The school's most distinguished professors include Władysław Strzemiński, Roman Artymowski, Stefan Byrski, Stanisław Fijałkowski, Zdzisław Głowacki, Marian Jaeschke, Tomasz Jaśkiewicz, Lena Kowalewicz, Stefan Krygier, Lech Kunka, Antoni Starczewski, Maria Stieber, Janina Tworek-Pierzgalska and Teresa Tyszkiewicz.
Today the school comprises the following four faculties: Textiles and Clothing, Graphic Arts and Painting, Industrial Forms, and Visual Education.
The School's Rectors:
1945-1949 Leon Ormezowski
1949-1950 Stefan Wegner
1950-1952 Stanisław Borysowski
1952-1963 Roman Modzelewski
1963-1971 Zdzisław Głowacki
1971-1975 Roman Artymowski
1975-1981 Wiesław Garboliński
1981-1987 Krystyn Zieliński
1987-1993 Ryszard Hunger
1993-2005 Jerzy Treliński
2005-2008 Grzegorz ChojnackiCompiled from:
"Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Sztuk Plastycznych im. Władysława Strzemińskiego w Łodzi 1945-1995" / "The Wladyslaw Strzeminski State Higher School of Visual Arts in Lodz 1945-1995", the school's website.
Akademia Sztuk Pięknych im. Władysława Strzemińskiego w Łodzi
ul. Wojska Polskiego 121
Phone: (+48 42) 25 47 598
Fax: (+48 42) 25 47 560
Wojska Polskiego 121