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Stanisław Witkiewicz

Biography

Stanisław Witkiewicz was born in 1885 in Warsaw. His father was a well-known painter and his mother a music teacher. The family moved to Zakopane in the mountains to help with Witkiewicz Senior’s tuberculosis, and where Witkiewicz Senior helped create an artists’ colony. Young Witkiewicz was encouraged to be a free spirit and was educated at home, never attending school. Even as a child, he was playing the piano, painting and writing stories, and exhibiting paintings when he was only sixteen. After briefly studying art in Cracow (against his father’s wishes), he adopted a grotesque style. After going to Paris, where he was influenced by Cézanne and Gauguin, he started his series of bizarre drawings. He also took up photography. After a love affair with the actress Irena Solska, he took up writing for the stage as well as writing a novel. However, a bout of depression led him to undertake psychoanalysis. When his fiancée committed suicide, his mental condition was made worse and was only helped by going to the East with his friend Bronisław Malinowski.

He served in the Russian army in World War I but was injured in 1915 and recuperated in St Petersburg, where he witnessed the Russian Revolution. He returned to Poland where he resumed as a career as a painter, before turning to the stage, where his revolutionary approach was not generally welcomed. Those plays of his that were performed only had very few performances. Needing money to earn a living, he turned to novel writing and wrote his great work Nienasycenie (Insatiability) during this period. When the Nazis invaded Poland he fled to Eastern Poland but when the Russians, in turn, invaded Poland, he killed himself (in 1939). His reputation was quite low at that time but has increased since the war.

Other links

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz
Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy)
Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy) (English and Polish)
Witkacy: Early Life
Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (paintings, drawings and photographs)
Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (paintings)
Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy) (paintings)
Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy) (paintings)
Witkacy and the Formists
Argonauts of the Western Pacific: S. I. Witkiewicz and Bronislaw Malinowski

Bibliography

1919 Nowe formy w malarstwie i wynikajace stad nieporozumienia (New Forms in Painting and the Misunderstandings Arising Therefrom)
1921 Papierek lakmusowy
1921 Tumor Mózgowicz
1922 Szkice estetyczne
1923 Teatr. Wstęp do teorii czystej formy w teatrze
1927 Pożegnanie jesieni (Farewell to Autumn)
1928 Regulamin firmy portretowej S. I. Witkiewicza
1930 Nienasycenie (Insatiability)
1932 Nikotyna, alkohol, kokaina, peyotl, morfina, eter
1935 Pojęcia i twierdzenia implikowane przez pojęcie istnienia
1948 Szewcy
1948 W malym dworku (Country House)
1962 Dramaty [note that most of his plays were only first published in this edition; many have been translated separately into English including Seven Plays; The Madman And The Nun & The Crazy Locomotive: Three Plays, Including The Water Hen; The Mother & Other Unsavory Plays]
1972 622 Upadki Bunga czyli demoniczna kobieta (The 622 Downfalls of Bungo or The Demonic Woman)
1972 Narkotyki. Niemyte dusze (Narcotics)
1987 A Witkacy Reader: The Life and Works of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz
1988 Selected Writings