0254 "The Post-Party Spleen". The Topos of Crisis in Polish Art Criticism of the 1930s

  • Diana Wasilewska (Author)

    Diana Wasilewska is an assistant professor in the Department of Art Theory and Artistic Education at the Pedagogical University in Cracow. Her scholarly interests lie in the area of art criticism in the interwar period in Poland, with particular emphasis on the rhetorical aspect of the critical language of that time. She was a fellow of the Lanckoronski Foundation (Rome 2009) as well as the project leader of a research grant from the National Science Centre in Poland ("Mieczyslaw Treter – aesthetician and art critic"). Since October 2019 she has been editor-in-chief of Studia de Arte et Educatione and a member of the European Association for Jewish Studies (EAJS). She is the author of two monographs on Polish art criticism.

Identifiers (Article)


The 1930s in Polish art criticism were marked by crisis and exhaustion of previously respected artistic values. Critics of that time were surprisingly unanimous in their belief that the fault rested with the artists – particularly those whose pursuit of increasingly innovative artistic means led them to break ties with the society, enclose art within the ivory tower of avant-garde '-isms', those hermetic laboratories of theoretical speculation. In the eyes of the majority of then-active journalists, it was modernism that became the synonym of the crisis that afflicted contemporary culture – a crisis whose basic symptoms included the lack of spirituality, power of expression, or interest in the human being. Those statements identifying the general 'malaise' of the era came with attempts to pinpoint the reasons for this state of affairs as well as find solutions to overcome the obvious impasse of Polish (or wider, European) culture, and visual arts with it.


Tytus Czyżewski (1880-1945), Still Life with a Violin, c. 1920, Detail. National Museum, Krakow
avant-garde, modernism, art criticism, interwar period, formalism, social art, Colourism, crisis