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Zdzisław Beksiński | Surreal architecture painter

Zdzisław Beksiński (24 February 1929 - 21 February 2005) was a Polish painter, photographer and sculptor, specializing in the field of dystopian surrealism.
Beksiński did his paintings and drawings in what he called either a 'Baroque' or a 'Gothic' manner. His creations were made mainly in two periods. The first period of work is generally considered to contain expressionistic color, with a strong style of "utopian realism" and surreal architecture, like a doomsday scenario. The second period contained more abstract style, with the main features of formalism.

Beksiński was stabbed to death at his Warsaw apartment in February 2005 by a 19-year-old acquaintance from Wołomin, reportedly because he refused to lend the teenager any money and threatened him further.
Zdzisław Beksiński was born in Sanok, southern Poland. He studied architecture in Kraków.
In 1955, he completed his studies and return to Sanok, working as a construction site supervisor, but found he did not enjoy it. During this period, he had an interest in montage photography, sculpting and painting. When he first started his sculpting, he would often use his construction site materials for his medium.
His early photography would be a precursor to his later paintings often depicting peculiar wrinkles, desolate landscapes and still-life faces on rough surfaces. His paintings often depict anxiety, such as torn doll faces, faces erased or obscured by bandages wrapped around the portrait. His main focus was on abstract painting, although he works in the 1960s, it seems obviously been inspired by Surrealism.

Painting and drawing

Beksiński had no formal training as an artist. He was a graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at the Kraków Polytechnic with M.Sc. received in 1952. His paintings were mainly created using oil paint on hardboard panels which he personally prepared, although he also experimented with acrylic paints. He abhorred silence, and always listened to classical music while painting. Although he loved classical music, Beksinski appreciated rock music as well.

Fantastic Realism

A prestigious exhibition in Warsaw in 1964 proved to be his first major success, as all his paintings were sold.
Beksiński threw himself into painting with a passion, and worked constantly (always to the strains of classical music). He soon became the leading figure in contemporary Polish art. In the late 1960s, Beksiński entered what he himself called his "fantastic period", which lasted up to the mid-1980s.
This is his best-known period, during which he created very disturbing images, showing a surrealistic, post-apocalyptic environment with very detailed scenes of death, decay, landscapes filled with skeletons, deformed figures and deserts. These paintings were quite detailed, painted with his trademark precision.
At the time, Beksiński claimed, "I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams".
Despite the grim overtones, Beksiński claimed some of his works were misunderstood; in his opinion, they were rather optimistic or even humorous.
For the most part, though, Beksiński was adamant that even he did not know the meaning of his artworks and was uninterested in possible interpretations; in keeping with this, he refused to provide titles for any of his drawings or paintings.
Before moving to Warsaw in 1977, he burned a selection of his works in his own backyard, without leaving any documentation on them. He later claimed that some of those works were "too personal", while others were unsatisfactory, and he didn't want people to see them.

Later work

The 1980s marked a transitory period for Beksiński. During this time, his works became more popular in France due to the endeavors of Piotr Dmochowski, and he achieved significant popularity in Western Europe, the United States and Japan.
His art in the late 1980s and early 1990s focused on monumental or sculpture-like images rendered in a restricted (and often subdued) color palette, including a series of crosses. Paintings in these style, which often appear to have been sketched densely in colored lines, were much less lavish than those known from his "fantastic period", but just as powerful.

In 1994, Beksiński explained "I'm going in the direction of a greater simplification of the background, and at the same time a considerable degree of deformation in the figures, which are being painted without what's known as naturalistic light and shadow. What I'm after is for it to be obvious at first sight that this is a painting I made".
In the latter part of the 1990s, he discovered computers, the Internet, digital photography and photomanipulation, a medium that he focused on until his death.

Family tragedies and death

The late 1990s were a very tragic time for Beksiński. His wife, Zofia, died in 1998; a year later, on Christmas Eve 1999, his son Tomasz (a popular radio presenter, music journalist and movie translator) committed suicide. Beksiński discovered his son's body. Unable to come to terms with his son's death, he kept an envelope "For Tomek in case I kick the bucket" pinned to his wall.
Director Jan P. Matuszyński’s debut feature will focus on the relationship between the painter Zdzisław Beksiński and his son Tomasz Beksiński. The premiere movie - Last family is planned for 2016.
On 21 February 2005, Beksiński was found dead in his flat in Warsaw with 17 stab wounds on his body; two of the wounds were determined to have been fatal. Robert Kupiec (the teenage son of his longtime caretaker), who later pleaded guilty, and a friend were arrested shortly after the crime.
On 9 November 2006 Robert Kupiec was sentenced to 25 years in prison, and his accomplice, Łukasz Kupiec, to 5 years by the court of Warsaw. Before his death, Beksiński refused to loan Robert Kupiec a few hundred złoty (approximately $100).


Although Beksiński's art was often grim, he himself was known to be a pleasant person who took enjoyment from conversation and had a keen sense of humor. He was modest and somewhat shy, avoiding public events such as the openings of his own exhibitions. He credited music as his main source of inspiration. He claimed not to be much influenced by literature, cinema or the work of other artists, and almost never visited museums or exhibitions.

Beksiński avoided concrete analysis of the content of his work, saying "I cannot conceive of a sensible statement on painting".

He was especially dismissive of those who sought or offered simple answers to what his work 'meant'.

Artistic legacy

The town of Sanok, Poland, houses a museum dedicated to Beksiński. A Beksiński museum housing 50 paintings and 120 drawings from the Dmochowski collection (who owns the biggest private collection of Beksiński's art), opened in 2006 in the City Art Gallery of Częstochowa, Poland.
On 18 May 2012 with the participation of Minister of Regional Development Elżbieta Bieńkowska and others took place ceremonial opening of The New Gallery of Zdzisław Beksiński in the rebuilt wing of the castle. On 19 May 2012 The New Gallery has been opened for the public. A 'Beksiński cross', in the characteristic T-shape frequently employed by the artist, was installed for Burning Man. | Wikipedia

Zdzisław Beksiński (Sanok, 24 febbraio 1929 - Varsavia, 22 febbraio 2005) è stato un pittore e grafico Polacco.
Nacque il 24 febbraio del 1929 a Sanok, piccolo centro situato nel sud-est della Polonia, nei pressi della catena dei Carpazi da una famiglia di imprenditori. Studiò dapprima economia, in seguito si diplomò in un liceo clandestino durante l'occupazione tedesca. Dopo la liberazione della Polonia, nel 1947, si iscrisse, secondo i voleri del padre, presso la facoltà di architettura a Cracovia.
Nel 1951 sposò Zofia Stankiewicz, nello stesso anno si laureò e divenne supervisore nei cantieri edili a Sanok, lavoro verso il quale provò una profonda avversione. Nel 1958 nacque il suo unico figlio, Tomasz.
Nel 1998 muore sua moglie Zofia Stankiewicz. Il giorno della vigilia di Natale del 1999 suo figlio Tomasz Beksinski, noto presentatore radiofonico e giornalista musicale, si toglie la vita.
Viene assassinato il 22 febbraio 2005, accoltellato diciannove volte dal figlio del suo maggiordomo.


Iniziò a occuparsi di arte dal 1958 come fotografo, rivelandosi un artista innovatore, cosa non facile nell'austera Polonia comunista. Fin dalle sue prime foto emergono i tratti che in seguito diventeranno caratteristici delle sue tele.
Fotografa uomini e donne col volto bendato, visi deturpati o cancellati con le tecniche del fotomontaggio, ampi paesaggi desolati, bambole mutilate. Pratica anche la scultura prediligendo l'utilizzo di plastica e metallo, trapassa blocchi di pietra con del cavo d'acciaio. Nel 1958, si tiene la sua prima mostra a Poznań.
Essendo un membro dell'Unione Artisti e Fotografi Polacchi prende parte, negli anni successivi, a numerose mostre, sia in Polonia sia all'estero. Questo suo primo periodo (1958-1965) viene dal lui stesso definito "periodo barocco".
Nel corso degli anni sessanta abbandona la scultura e la fotografia e inizia a dipingere qualche opera minore. Nel 1971 comincia quello che lui stesso definirà il suo "periodo Gotico", nel quale si dedica alla pittura ad olio su masonite.
La sua prima grande mostra risale al 1972 presso la galleria d'arte contemporanea di Varsavia, nel contempo si evidenziò il suo carattere molto schivo che lo portò a isolarsi dall'ambiente artistico.
Nel 1975 una giuria di critici d'arte nazionali lo definì il miglior artista dei primi trent'anni della Repubblica Popolare Polacca.
Tra le opere più famose e apprezzate del suo periodo gotico spicca quella dell'auto, dipinto acquistato da un privato e di cui non è facile reperire una riproduzione.
Negli ultimi anni della sua vita (1998-2005) si dedicò alla grafica digitale.
Dopo la morte della moglie e del suo unico figlio iniziò il periodo più nero della sua vita. Rimasto solo e caduto in depressione, si chiuse in casa, mentre le sue opere sono sempre più apprezzate in tutto il mondo. In particolare negli Stati Uniti e in Giappone, paese in cui conquista il primato di unico artista contemporaneo polacco inserito tra le prestigiose collezioni dell'Osaka Art Museum, e naturalmente nelle collezioni di musei polacchi e svedesi.


Beksinski preferiva dipingere in piedi, su una tela appoggiata orizzontalmente su un tavolo.
Non ha mai dato un titolo alle sue opere.
Il suo sottofondo preferito è la musica classica.
L'ispirazione per i suoi quadri, come vuole la leggenda, gli sarebbe arrivata in seguito di un grave incidente automobilistico che lo avrebbe visto coinvolto nel 1970 in uno scontro con un treno, mentre attraversava in macchina un passaggio a livello non custodito, nel cuore della fredda campagna polacca. Se la cavò con tre settimane di coma e molti mesi di convalescenza.
La sua grande forza d'animo e l'amore della sua famiglia lo aiutarono a superare le difficoltà e presto tornò ad essere l'uomo affabile di sempre, ma la sua arte non sarebbe mai più stata la stessa. Infatti l'artista afferma di aver visto l'Inferno, e di doverlo rappresentare per non impazzire.

Prima della partenza da Sanok a Varsavia nel 1977, Beksinski distrugge (dandogli fuoco), una selezione dei suoi dipinti considerati troppo personali o insoddisfacenti. Opere di cui non rimane nessuna traccia.
Suo figlio Tomasz era un grande fan della rock band inglese The Legendary Pink Dots e dopo la sua morte, avvenuta per suicidio nel 1999, Beksinski inizia a collaborare col gruppo, creando le copertine dell'edizione polacca di alcuni loro dischi.| Wikipedia