Meet Witkacy, the artist

Historical Słupsk was the seat of the dukes of Pomerania, nowadays it is one of the most interesting and original towns in Poland. The place of work of artists, social activists, and amber craftsmen, but also a host of an exhibition dedicated to an extremely talented and multifaceted Polish artist – Witkacy. It all makes Słupsk a great destination for a family weekend or a cozy trip.

Without a doubt Słupsk is a lovely yet absolutely surprising town of the Pomorskie region. Already before 1477 one of the first Pomeranian guilds of amber craftsmen was founded there, thus three years earlier than in much bigger Gdansk. The first craftsmen that came to the town by the Słupia River quickly became popular for creating amber knife handles, forks, and rosaries.

A well-recognizable handmade amber souvenir is the Bear of Happiness. In the summertime, one can meet its mascot version giving sweets to children in front of the town hall. The original figure made of the Baltic Amber was kept in a museum in Stralsund, however, now it is back in Poland in the National Museum in Szczecin. The famous bear have gained great interest among tourists; it is worth bringing an amber- or teddy bear – as a souvenir and a token of good luck.

Focus on the history

One of the most interesting facilities in the heart of Słupsk is the Museum of Central Pomerania located in a complex of buildings in the picturesque area of Słupia. A valuable part of the complex is the Pomeranian Dukes Castle from the 16th century (reopened in 1965) and two monuments from 14th century nearby – the Castle Mill and the Mill Gate. Richter’s Granary (from 1780), the White Granary (from 1814), and the Red Granary from the early 20th century also catch the eyes of the visitors and are available for tourists.

Nowadays, there are more than 30 thousands of items exhibit in the museum and more than 22 thousand volumes. They represent various topics so all enthusiasts of history will find something interesting including information about facilities that reflect the Pomeranian history, classical and modern art, historical crafts, articles left by the last inhabitants of the castle, numismatics, and ethnographic objects. Moreover, in the museum one can admire unique antique prints, cartography and archives; and not only permanent but also temporary exhibitions. Słupsk takes a lot of pride in the world’s biggest collection related to Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, known as Witkacy.

Witkacy a hundred times

“For me lack of freedom means madness and death,” wrote one of the most inspirational and original artists in a letter to his wife. 

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz was a Polish writer, playwright, philosopher, and painter, but he was also a representative of the first Polish photographers. This controversial, extremely colorful personality has been fascinating contemporary multidisciplinary artists for years.

His artworks are nowadays being brought back, conferences are organized, and more importantly, young people gladly discover his art – impressed by his creative personality and art process. The museum in Słupsk is a real treat for lovers of Witkacy as it presents the only permanent exhibition of his artistic works in the world. The collection constitute about 120-125 artworks, and the remaining items are photographs, letters, and first edition books.

The exhibition represents all art stages of Witkacy’s creativity process, which makes it even more exciting and inspiring.

When Witkacy was a member of the avant-garde art group (the Formist), he created, among others, the oil on canvas “Jupiter Metamorphosed into a Bull” and a pencil nude. 

The exhibition includes portraits and drawings created in 1924 when the artist abandoned practicing “pure art”.

As a prolific writer, he created a powerful theory of portraits, based on evidence and research, which had an enormous impact on Polish theater. The effects of particular stages of Witkacy’s work are closely related to the philosophy of art that he practiced. Many of his works contain details about the medicines used during the process of creation – they have their source in Witkacy’s research and experimental interests. He treated himself as a tool, artifact, and material – he wanted to determine the impact of particular drugs on the perception of the surrounding world and, consequently, on the artistic form of his final works. It is worth paying attention to the double portraits and the images in which the model has been characterized as a historical figure (e.g. the philosopher Jan Leszczyński presented as Robespierre).

The exhibition is mainly based on pastels – portraits made within a one person profit-making company “S.I. Witkiewicz” that Witkacy founded in 1925. The company was also established to develop his beliefs (that he additionally wrote down) about the fall of “pure art”, the disappearance of “metaphysical feelings”, and finally the total uselessness of an artist in the contemporary society.

The exhibition of artistic works is supplemented by photographs of locomotives (from 1899-1900) and famous “facial expression” (from the 1930s), made by Jan Głogowski based on the original negatives left by Witkacy.

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