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Polish photography in the first years after Poland regained independence remains a poorly documented area of research. Studies so far had mostly focused on the interpretation of the works of a few key artists from the avant-garde milieu (Witkacy) or photography (Jan Bułhak). It transpires however, that photography – not only as an artistic practice, but as poetic metaphor or an element of a broader aesthetic reflection – has functioned within the circle of the artistic avant-garde. An analysis of the presence of this medium in the consciousness and creativity of Polish artists allows us to see in a new light certain aspects of their technique and intellectual viewpoint. The article focuses on selected characteristics of this assimilation of modern reflection on photography by the Polish avant-garde artists in the first decade after the country regained independence. For the Formists – Tytus Czyżewski and Leon Chwistek – photography was an important point of reference as a metaphor of a new, cognitively uncertain, but also “deeper” way of seeing reality. It was an important help in defining the relationship between reality and its image and subject within a broader theoretical program (the theory of plurality of realities). For the Constructivists in turn – with Władysław Strzemiński and Mieczysław Szczuka at the forefront – photography became the means that enabled them to go beyond the usual schemes of capturing the external world, and as part of the concept of photomontage, it became a new material for creating an artistic reality. The dynamics of the process of assimilation of photography by the avant-garde artists was analysed in the context of the reception of new artistic trends born outside of Poland, primarily Futurism (the theory of photography by Anton Giulio Bragaglia) and Suprematism (reflection by Kazimierz Malewicz).
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