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Nikifor

(c. 1895—1968)


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(c.1895–1968)

Polish naive painter, born at Krynica. His mother was a deaf–mute beggar (he did not know his father) and Nikifor himself had a speech impediment. He lived the life of a tramp, wandering through the villages of Galicia, and made paintings on any scraps of paper available, including the backs of cigarette packets, selling them for a trifle. His main subjects were architectural scenes and cityscapes, in which he mixed reality with fantasy, and he was also fond of representing himself in various imagined situations (he was deeply and naively religious and often depicted himself as a bishop-judge condemning those who had done him some injustice). He was very prolific and some thousands of his small paintings are in existence. Usually they are inscribed with meaningless combinations of letters (he was virtually illiterate). Nikifor was ‘discovered’ in 1930, and late in life he achieved material comforts, but by then he was too old and ill to enjoy them. He has a high reputation in Poland and has been the subject of several books and documentary films.

Subjects: Art.


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