Professor Pulverston II, 1931
gelatin-silver print, vintage print on baryta paper, 23 x 17 cm (image); photography by Jozef Glogowski
dated and described with a pencil on the reverse: 'prof. Pulverston, II 1931'
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NoteWhile still a child, Witkacy received his first camera as a present. The gift was given by his father, Stanislaw Witkiewicz, who was a renowned painter and critic. It was him who taught his son to take photos, introduced him to different techniques, as well as acted as a model. As a teenager, Witkacy recorded everyday life around him and created documentation of his first artistic processes. In the early works, one can find numerous landscapes in his native region, portraits of his relatives, but also self-portraits, which were the most famous aspect of his photographic output. Witkacy's self-portraits were closely related to his interest in theatre. Like an actor playing different parts, Witkacy explored a whole range of his own emotions in front of a camera. By directing his own life and staging unusual situations, he consciously built his own image as an eccentric, an unpredictable and creative artist. In the photos, he impersonated characters from his prose, dramas and sketches, thus creating a total show that merged multiple areas of his many interests.
In his self-portraits, Witkacy developed very specific aesthetics whose dominant element was the overwhelming focus on his own facial expressions. The space and context were suspended, the neutral background prevented the spectator from distraction, whereas the close frame, which left space only for the expression of facial features, hands and various props, allowed to capture a wide range of different emotional states.