Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (1885 – 1939)

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz. Weibliches Portrait, 1938

Moim zdanie, ten pastel Witkacego bezsprzecznie zostane dołączony do najważniejszych tegorocznych znalezisk na rynkach zachodnich. Trudno sobie wyobrazić cenę w Polsce ale to będzie wielokrotność tej niemieckiej. Dlatego, osoba, która widzi tę pracę u siebie na ścianie winna walczyć o nią w Niemczech. Pozostaje do ustalenia nazwisko kobiety przedstawionej na pracy.

Lot 221. Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz –Weibliches Portrait, 1938. Pastel chalks on black card 64.7 x 48.6 cm Framed under glass. Signed, dated, and inscribed ‘Ign Witkiewicz 1938 30/III (T. B+d) NP/NTT + herb.’ in white lower left. – In fine condition with fresh colours. Mounted on supporting card. Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy) was a writer, philosopher and artist blessed with a number of creative talents. In 1924 Witkacy founded the company “S.I. Witkiewicz”, in whose name he accepted portrait commissions in order to support himself financially. As his only employee he personally compiled something like a set of contractual guidelines for his clients, containing 17 paragraphs. These dictated, for example, that clients had no right to have the work destroyed if they were unsatisfied, that they were not allowed to see it before completion, that they were to appear punctually as models and that they were not allowed to express any criticism of the final artistic product. In addition, Witkacy defined seven types of portraits: clients could choose among them and the price was also determined according to them (cf. Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, Rules of the S.I. Witkiewicz Portrait-Painting Firm, Warschau 1932 [trans. from Polish by Beata Zgodzinska and Beata Brodniewicz], cited in: The Polish Journal of Aesthetics, vol. 31 4/2014, pp. 53-58).

The artist often consumed various stimulants or other drugs during the process of creating his work, and he always placed their abbreviations prominently in his pictures, together with his signature, the date and the selected portrait type. The inscription on our intense portrait indicates that Witkacy found himself in a more abstinent phase of his work and that, in the context of this portrait’s production, he did not smoke (“NP”), did not drink alcohol (“NTT”) and did drink tea (“herb.”) (cf. Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, Narcotics – Nicotine, Alcohol, Cocaine, Peyote, Morphine, Ether + Appendices, Prag 2018, trans. from Polish by Soren Gauger, pp. 9 f.). As a type “B+d”, this work brings out the character of the female model and simultaneously underscores her beauty. Portraits from this category can display caricature-like tendencies, for example, in the slight enlargement of individual passages of the face (cf. op. cit., pp. 54-58).

Witkacy put an end to his life with a decisiveness resembling that of his personal perspective on art. Fleeing from advancing German troops, he died in 1939 from an overdose of sleeping pills. His lover Czeslawa Okninska survived the attempted double suicide. Estimate 20,000 – 30,000 euro. Lempertz. 06/18/21. Sold 90,000 euro (hammer)

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