This series of photographs by Edward Hartwig has not been published in the form of an album; it is a relatively unknown subject of his work. The beginning of this very broadly understood category falls in the 1930s, when the photographer began to work on the portraits of workers. At that time, photographs of working people were taken; they were tonal, still kept in the pictorial convention specific to him and to many other photographers of that period. Post-war photographs, showing workers at machines or builders working on the MDM (Marszalkowska Dzielnica Mieszkaniowa) building, are photos kept in the convention of socialist realism, monumentalising the portrayed.
An interesting example coming from this time is, inter alia, a photo entitled ‘Workers and Machines’ – a photomontage found in the collections of the National Museum in Warsaw. Photographs originating from that period, except that they were specific portraits of the working class, are also a valuable documentation of the life of Poland, especially of Warsaw, after the Second World War. Photographs of workers and volunteers working in the Mariensztat neighbourhood are sought after by photographic collectors.
Edward Hartwig’s house collections also contain photographs documenting the construction of new factories in the 1960s and 1970s, which, on one hand, are a kind of illustration for the state narrative about a modern, developing country. On the other hand, as it is usual in the case of Hartwig, they are aesthetically sophisticated frames, sometimes taking nearly a form of an abstract, well illustrating the assumptions of Hartwig’s photography.