The text written by art historian Zofia Kossakowska-Szanajca includes a proper biography and a precious catalogue raisonné of the artist's sculptures, however, the publication as a whole is far from a cliché catalogue, as it is dominated by illustrations created by Zofia's brother, Eustachy Kossakowski. He is far from interpretative in his black and white photographs of Zamoyski's sculptures, but concentrates on their mass, as well as the texture and expression of the material; he resizes fragments of objects through close-ups. The softness, saturation of black, and graphic qualities of the rotogravure reproductions go hand in hand with the spirit of the formist sculptures.
A majority of the photographs were taken in 1968 in Zamoyski's studio in France, two years before he passed away. In the final sequence, Kossakowski also shows the artist himself in the setting of his workshop, ending it with a somewhat solemn close-up of the artist's wrinkled hands – a death mask, so to say, as the album was released four years after the sculptor's death.
Kossakowski does not only photograph the sculptures in the pre-existing context of the studio, but also takes them outdoors. He plays with light, taking the pictures in the light of the setting sun, as well as with scale, creating images that reinforce the monumentalism of Zamoyski's forms.
The album, published by Arkady in 1974, is impressive due to its format and simple photographic layout, which was slightly formulaic for its time. It is also an interesting dialogue among creators belonging to different generations and sharing a similar, aristocratic background. The output created by Zamoyski, who once was a member of the formist avant-garde but also a representative of interwar classicism, earns a suggestive facet thanks to the photographs taken by Kossakowski, associated with the bohemia surrounding the Foksal Gallery, nowadays recognized mostly for his “creative” documentations of works by such artists of the post-war avant-garde, like Edward Krasiński, for instance. Photographs from the album August Zamoyski are situated precisely between this kind of intimate, empathic connection with the photographed art and the artist, and the fine photoreportage which Kossakowski used to practice while working for Polska magazine.
This book published during Edward Gierek's era of prosperity expresses the relaxation of the cultural politics of the Polish People's Republic, which was becoming more inclusive in regard to works of Polish artists living across the western border of the Eastern Bloc. At the same time, it constitutes the only photobook by Eustachy Kossakowski – who emigrated to France in 1970 – that was published in Poland.
photographs: Eustachy Kossakowski
text: Zofia Kossakowska-Szanajca
graphic design: Krzysztof Racinowski
publisher: Arkady, Warsaw
year of publication: 1974
volume: 168 pages
format: 31.5 x 24 cm
cover: linen hardcover with dust jacket
print run: 6220
Original text: polishphotobook.tumblr.com
, transl. Ania Micińska, July 2015