One Of The Most Distinguished Female Sculptors: Katarzyna Kobro

A sculptor is an artist who specializes in creating sculptures. Sculptors are visual artists who create two-dimensional or three-dimensional art using different materials, such as stone, wood, plastic, and even paperclips.

Female sculptors, also known as sculptresses, are not so commonplace. In fact, according to some acclaimed research, very few female sculptors, and artists, in general, are reckoned with. But, this does not state there are no remarkable female sculptors who have produced beautiful works in their lifetime.

In this article, let’s learn about one of the most distinguished female sculptors ever, Katarzyna Kobro. Katarzyna Kobro polish sculptor is one of the trailblazers for many other female sculptors after her time. Read on to learn about Katarzyna Kobro.

Lifetime

Katarzyna Kobro was born in Russia in 1897 but moved to Poland with her family at 10. She later attended the Fine Arts Academy in Warsaw and became a student of Kazimierz Pochwalski. 

In 1918, Kobro married fellow artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski. They both became members of the Association of Polish Artists “Svit” (Light), founded by several prominent artists, including Karol Hiller and Jan Styka. Many scholars agree that she was heavily influenced by Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematism movement and El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodchenko’s Constructivism; however, her style soon shifted from these movements towards geometric abstractionism specifically naming Otl Aicher as a significant influence on her work.

During this period, she traveled throughout Europe, mainly living in Paris and spending time living with friends or exhibiting her work abroad (including Czechoslovakia). Her husband died suddenly due to an illness in 1937; after this traumatic event, she returned home, where she resumed teaching Katarzyna Kobro art classes at various schools around Warsaw until World War II broke out later that year.

After 1945, Kobro’s work, which had been viewed as problematic during the interwar period, was viewed with the same suspicion. As a consequence, she spent many years in the shadows of Strzemiski’s career. This was especially evident at the first post-war exhibition of the couple, Kobro and Strzemiski’s work, held in ód and Warsaw in 1956. However, part of the difficulty was that her work was not well-known.

Major Exhibitions

The first major exhibition of her works was organized at the Zachęta National Gallery in Warsaw in 1929 under the title “Workshop of the Five.” This exhibition was a great success and opened the door to worldwide recognition for Katarzyna Kobro.

The following year she presented her sculptures at an exhibition in Warsaw and then traveled to Paris with several of her creations. She continued showing her work throughout Europe, where she received good reviews from critics who praised her for being one of the best sculptors working today. 

She also received many commissions from museums worldwide, including France, Germany, Belgium, and Holland.

Awards And Recognitions

Katarzyna Kobro was awarded the French “Grand Prix de Rome” for her sculpture The Gypsy. The award is given every year to promising young artists from all over the world who will be able to work in Rome at the Villa Medici and study at the Académie Française. A successful artist will win this prize again after five years of working in Rome; Katarzyna has won two awards!

The Paul Cassirer Prize for the sculpture was awarded to her for her work The Gypsy. Additionally, she was accoladed with the Silver Medal at the Salon des Artistes Français in Paris. Katarzyna Kobro was recognized early on for her artistic talents. She won first prize at the second annual exhibition of young artists in Warsaw. She also received a special mention at the International Exhibition of Polish Art, which took place at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in 1957.

In 1960, the artist graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw with honors and a master’s degree in painting under professor Stanisław Dybowski.

Artworks

Her work was in many respects experimental, and she continued to influence modernist sculpture. Cubism, Constructivism, and suprematism influenced her, but her artworks were also inspired by African masks, animals, and mythological creatures.

After separating from her husband, Strzeminski, in 1923, she joined the Poznan-based Functionalist art movement, which rejected Russian Constructivism for an organic simplicity and purity of form, influenced by folk art and African sculpture. She created large-scale woodcuts depicting geometric abstractions, often set against a dark background.

The Bauhaus movement also influenced Katarzyna Kobro. The Bauhaus was a school of art, architecture, and design founded in Weimar, Germany, in 1919 by Walter Gropius. The name “Bauhaus” means “building a house,” reflecting their focus on architecture, but they also taught other disciplines such as painting, sculpture, and industrial design. This institution became influential not only in Germany but throughout Europe; its principles were thus compatible with the ideals of the Bauhaus movement.

Style

Kobro was among the most avant-garde artists of the interwar period. She opposed the principles of aestheticism, individuality, and subjectivism in favor of absolute objectivism of form, influenced by Constructivism. 

Her main aim was to create an abstract work of Katarzyna Kobro art using universal and objective criteria that she established through experimenting and spatial research.

Her sculpture imagined an infinite space that was homogeneous and devoid of focal points, such as a coordinate system’s beginning. As a result, she worked to organize space such that it was not separated into space encased within a form and prohibited from it, but rather coexisted with space and allowed room to permeate it.

Conclusion

As a trailblazer for female sculptors, she worked with many famous artists in her time; Kobro worked with artists such as Henry Moore and Alberto Giacometti while living in Paris. Cubism and Constructivism influenced her early sculptures, but she later developed an organic style of sculpture that incorporated human forms into abstract shapes and curving lines. Kobro’s work can be seen in many famous museums around the world.

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