Edward Hartwig (1909–2003) is hailed as the “most famous Polish photographer”. The variety of themes that interested him and the multiplicity of formal solutions that he tapped into is truly impressive. His concept of photography compelled the viewer to embrace photographs as autonomous visual forms. It was founded on the need to liberate photography from the duty of conveying specific content or message. Notably, Hartwig’s well-considered photographic programme developed at the time of the political and cultural “thaw” in 1956, following the period of Socialist Realism.
Edward Hartwig’s practice contradicted the widespread vision of photography – of equal importance (perhaps even more significant than the very act of taking a photo) was the process of later work, which the photographer unveils for us to see. Hartwig found an innovative way to challenge our habits involved in viewing photographs. He sought to abandon the schematic approach to photographing, which consisted in an alleged representation of visual reality. Hartwig built autonomous worlds in his images, demonstrating an utmost precision in his use of the chosen medium and an awareness of the photographic matter. He approached photographs as completely independent visual entities. He discouraged viewing them as individual prints, and called for building larger wholes instead. The exhibition is arranged in a way that allows the viewer to concentrate both on the form of individual images and on the entirety of the composition that comprises them.
Muzeum of Photography in Krakow
Królowej Jadwigi St. 220, Krakow
Exhibition: November 16, 2019 – January 26, 2020
Curator: Dr Marika Kuźmicz
Exhibition design: Matosek / Niezgoda
Collaboration: Edward Hartwig Foundation, Danuta Hartwig-Saulewicz, Antoni Saulewicz
Organisers: Edward Hartwig Foundation, Museum of Photography in Krakow.
Organised with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage from the Creativity Promotion Fund.