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||stanisław ignacy witkiewicz
Painter, photographer, novelist, and playwright, Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (known by the moniker Witkacy)
was born on February 24, 1885, in the Russian sector of Warsaw as the only son of well-known painter Stanisław Witkiewicz.
Having studied at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts, Witkacy wrote his first novel in 1910, the autobiographical
The 622 Downfalls of Bungo, or the Demonic Woman. World War I broke out while he was in Australia with
his friend, the eminent anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski, and Witkacy returned to Europe. He attended officer training school
and then served in the Russian Army, but was later seriously wounded in battle. He was given morphine, and this was the genesis
of his experimentation with drugs as an artist. After witnessing firsthand the Russian Revolution, he
returned to Poland in 1918 and lived in Zakopane, where he joined a group of painters known as the Formists, who pursued
a program of Pure Form in the arts (his treatise New Forms in Painting was published in 1919). Over the next few years
Witkacy penned a number of plays, perhaps the most renowned of which are The Madman and the Nun, The Mother, and
The Crazy Locomotive, and by the beginning of the 1930s he had published his two great dystopian novels, Farewell to Autumn
and Insatiability. By the mid-1920s Witkacy had given up on Pure Form and, having established the Witkiewicz Portrait
Painting Firm in 1925, began to focus his visual art almost exclusively on portrait painting, both commissioned and
noncommissioned, the latter largely of friends and under the influence of drugs (documented in Narcotics).
When Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Witkacy fled east, and once he learned that the Soviet Union was
simultaneously invading from the other direction, he committed suicide on September 18 in the village of Jeziory (in present-day Ukraine).
published by TSP:
also by the author:
The Witkiewicz Reader
The Mother and Other Unsavory Plays