[ excerpt ]
series: image to word
also by the author:
The Witkiewicz Reader
The Mother and Other Unsavory Plays
Nicotine, Alcohol, Cocaine, Peyote, Morphine, Ether
by Stanisław I. Witkiewicz (Witkacy)
translated from the Polish by Soren Gauger
As part of his portrait painting firm, Witkacy established rules and types for his portrait work, marking
the paintings and pastels with corresponding symbols and abbreviations. Type C were produced under the influence of narcotics and alcohol. Type D,
on the other hand, were produced under no such influence at all, which likewise affected the artist's mental state. In these instances a given portrait
might be marked with symbols denoting how many days he had gone without smoking or without drinking. A variety of drugs and their combinations
were taken to produce a variety of distortions and psychedelic effects. Different intoxicants resulted in different color combinations.
One stunning series of self-portraits, for example, was executed while on a combination of moderate amounts of beer and cocaine.
In the vein of the well-known drug writings of Thomas De Quincey, Charles Baudelaire, and Walter Benjamin, Witkacy composed Narcotics in 1932
to discuss and document not only this artistic experimentation but the nature of addiction and the prevailing social attitude toward drugs. Yet unlike these other
authors, he produced a fairly large corpus of visual art while under the influence of intoxicants that is integral to understanding his approach to drug use.
According to Daniel Gerould, Witkacy felt that "artificial means were a final attempt to recapture, if only briefly, the metaphysical feelings that
had been lost to social progress." This English-language edition will include excerpts from some of Witkacy's other writings and color reproductions
of a cross section of portraits to show how various narcotics impacted his artwork.
198 pp. (166 pp. text
+ 32 full-color plates)
17 x 20 cm
art : literature : avant-garde
February 12, 2018