Cracow Workshops

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(established 1913)

The Cracow Workshops (Warsztaty Krakówskie), a cooperative of artists and craftsmen, were an important part of concerted efforts to establish a national Polish style through Arts and Crafts, drawing on the vernacular forms of indigenous folk art as major sources of inspiration. Many Polish designers, architects, artists, and intellectuals believed that their national cultural and political identity had been continually eroded by imperial powers, a conviction that had gathered pace in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Particularly significant in this quest for a national style were the activities of the Polish Applied Art Society (Towarszytwo Polska Sztuka Stosowana) established in 1901, which collected folk art as sources of inspiration for the applied arts and published its own journal (Materialy Polskiej Sztuki Stosowanef) from 1902. The outlook of the Cracow Workshops was influenced by the British Arts and Crafts movement and was also paralleled in some ways by other European groups such as the Gödölló Workshops in Hungary and the artistic colony at Abramtsevo in Russia. The Cracow Workshops produced folk art‐inspired metalwork, tapestries and textiles, ceramics, furniture, and bookbindings. After the end of the First World War the work of the ‘Cracow School’ (as many designers loosely aligned with the quest for a Polish national style deriving from vernacular traditions became known collectively) was widely recognized. This was particularly so in the Polish Pavilion at the Paris Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels of 1925, designed by Jósef Czajkowski (a member of the Polish Applied Art Society and the Cracow Workshops). The Polish displays in the Pavilion, the Galerie des Invalides, and the Grand Palais reflected the endeavours of the Cracow Workshops and the Polish Applied Art Society in an extensive display of applied arts which included everyday objects, furniture, metalwork, ceramics, stained glass windows, batiks, ‘kilim’ rugs, and bookbindings.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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