Konstanty Laszczka (born September 3, 1865 in Makowiec Duży, died March 23, 1956, in Kraków) was a Polish sculptor, painter, graphic artist, as well as professor and rector of the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. Laszczka became the Rector of the Academy in 1911, however, for family reasons he resigned from this function in 1912.
Laszczka was born into a large farming family in Masovia, the son of Antoni Laszczka and his wife Katarzyna, from Kupce village. His talent was first discovered by the Ostrowscy family of landed gentry who sponsored his art studies in Warsaw in 1885 under the tutorage of Jan Kryński and Ludwik Pyrowicz.
Soon later Laszczka received a scholarship from the Polish Society of Visual Arts (Towarzystwo Sztuk Pięknych) called "Zachęta" and went to Paris in 1891. While in France, he studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts Academy. He received directions from such artists as Jean-Antoine Mercié, Alexandre Falguiere and Jean-Léon Gérôme. He was also involved in the arts movement of the French Polonia. In 1897 Laszczka returned to Poland under foreign partitions and became a teacher in Warsaw.
In 1899 at the invitation of painter Julian Fałat, Laszczka settled in Kraków where he became the professor at the Academy of Fine Arts. In years 1900-1935 he was a director at the Sculpture Department there.
While in Kraków, Konstanty Laszczka became close friends with Stanisław Wyspiański and Leon Wyczółkowski. He was one of the founding members of the Society of Polish Artists called "Sztuka" (Art), with the aesthetic philosophy of the Young Poland Movement. Among his students were: Stanisław Jackowski, Bolesław Biegas, Xawery Dunikowski, Ludwik Konarzewski, Franciszek Mączyński and Olga Niewska, among others. In years 1900-1910 he also cooperated as graphic designer and sculptor with ceramic factory of Józef Niedźwiecki in nearby Dębniki. His son, Bogdan Laszczka, became an architect and activist of the Polish Tatra Society. Laszczka died in Kraków at the end of the Stalinist period and was buried there at the famous Rakowicki Cemetery.
In his work Konstanty Laszczka followed the example of his master, the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The influence is most evident in a series of female nude studies, sculpted around the turn of the century and based on symbolic themes. The earliest statue called "Zima (Konik polny)" (Winter. The grasshopper) was made in 1895; later, Laszczka created more female nudes overwhelmed with emotions, such as "Żal" (Grief) in 1901, and "Zasmucona" (Overwhelmed with Sadness) 1901–1902 now at a National Gallery (photo). His connection with the Art Nouveau movement emanated from statues such as "W nieskończoność" (Eternally) from 1896–1897, "Nostalgia" (1903) and - inspired by Edvard Munch - "Krzyk" (The Scream) from 1902. He focused above all on sculpture, but also painted portraits, made medals, portrait medallions and occasional plaques. In the late period of his artistic career he became interested in fired ceramics, with subject matter drawn from religious, folk and animal themes.
Notes and references
- (in Polish) Piotr Szubert, Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Warszawie, Kultura polska: Konstanty Laszczka February 2002
- Regions of the great heresy by Jerzy Ficowski and Theodosia Robertson. W.W. Norton & Company. Page 229
- "Rakowicki Cemetery" at Krakow Travel, with map and photographs
- Figuration/abstraction: stratégies for public sculpture in Europe, 1945-1968 by Charlotte Benton
- Polish Cultural Institute of New York Monika Fabijanska – director, staff
- I.Szejda, D.Osinski, Konstanty Laszczka, (1865 – 1956) at Art.Ceramika, based on articles in dom.gazeta.pl, artinfo.pl, and culture.pl
- "Konstanty Laszczka, wielki rzezbiarz przelomu wiekow" Tygodnik Salwatorski, June 15, 1997
- Konstanty Laszczka, Portrait of Helena Sulima, actress, bronze with patina, 1901
- Konstanty Laszczka, "Salome with the Head of John the Baptist"
- Konstanty Laszczka, "Reclining Diana", maiolica, 1926-1927
- District Museum in Bydgoszcz, Collections Biuletyn Informacji Publicznej BIP
- "Works of Konstanty Laszczka" at Italian Arcadja ArtMagazine and Auctions
- Dobrowolski Tadeusz, Sztuka Młodej Polski, Warszawa 1963.
- Słownik artystów polskich i obcych w Polsce działających. Malarze, rzeźbiarze, graficy, t. II, Wrocław 1975 (Urszula Leszczyńska).
- Kotkowska-Bareja Hanna, Konstanty Laszczka, Siedlce 1976.
- Puciata-Pawłowska Joanna, Konstanty Laszczka, Siedlce 1980.