Her father, Julian, was a representative of foreign companies selling leather goods. Her mother, coming from petite bourgeoisie, was brought up in a tiny provincial town in France, near Lyon.
Before the war, she finished journalistic studies in the School of Political Sciences in Warsaw. At the same time she was taking singing lessons from Adela Comte-Wilgocka and Stanisława Korwin-Szymanowska. In August 1939 she left for France, where she was found by World War II. In Paris, she received a typist job in the Ministry of Social Services at the Polish government, with which she then moved to Angers. After the fall of France in May 1940, she came to Great Britain where she stayed till the end of her life. It was ca 1941 when she started painting and sculpting (she signed her works: Korn). In January 1948, she had her first individual exhibition entitled „Paintings of London Life" in London’s Mayor Gallery. In the fifties of the 20th century, she was writing exhibition reviews and texts about art for the BBC radio station. In 1965, due to an intensifying mental illness (bipolar disorder), she underwent neurological surgery after which she stopped creating. She is the author of Wakacje kończą się we wrześniu (Holidays end in September), published in 1983, with a preface by Stefan Themerson.
It was everyday life, watched and caught on London streets, and human being (she neither understood or liked abstraction) that became the subject of her works from the beginning. She was painting the world that was surrounding her as well as people: women at a mechanical laundry, a boy with a chunk of meat, mannequins in a shop window, coalmen, men and women on escalator and in a coffee shop.
She depicted scenes from a park, psychology office, funeral, circus as well as striptease bar. Maternity was a common motif appearing in her works, particularly in sculpture. Halina Korn’s creativity, difficult to be classified, is included in a trend of naive art. It was, among others, Ignacy Witz, Feliks Topolski and Aleksander Jackowski in his encyclopaedic outline entitled Sztuka zwana naiwną (The art called naive) that wrote about that. Quite a few critics emphasized her infallible intuition for composition and form as well as extraordinary colour sensitivity.
She had a few individual exhibitions in London, Edinburgh and New York, including a series of exhibitions in Poland (Warsaw, Cracow, Gdynia, Katowice). In England, she exhibited with the London Group, in Royal Academy, Women’s International Art Club. She was the member of Artists’ International Association (AIA) and the member creator of Arts Society of Paddington. Halina Korn’s works are in the National Museum in Warsaw and Poznań, University Museum in Toruń, London’s Ben Uri Gallery among others and in numerous private collections, including The Anthony Petullo Collection of Self-Taught and Outsider Art.
She was buried in London’s Kensal Green Cemetery on 6 October 1978.
- 1948: Mayor Gallery, London
- 1953: Beaux Arts Gallery, London
- 1960: Gallery One, London
- 1962: Galerie Norval, New York
- 1964: Traverse Theatre Gallery, Edinburgh
- 1965: New Artists’ Forum, London
- 1967: The Fine Arts Association, Warsaw
- 1981: Camden Arts Centre, London
- Martyn Goff, Marek Zulawski and Halina Korn, "Studio" 1956 vol. 152, p. 108-111.
- Feliks Topolski, Halinka, "Wiadomości" 1979 nr 3, p. 5.
- Halina Korn-Żuławska, [in:] Aleksander Jackowski, Sztuka zwana naiwną. Zarys encyklopedyczny twórczości w Polsce, Warsaw 1995, p. 86.
- Philip Vann, Face to Face: British Self-portraits in the Twentieth Century, London 2004, p. 69.
- Marek Żuławski, Studium do autoportretu, Toruń 2009.