The Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw
The Lithography Atelier
Graphic Arts Faculty

professor Błażej Ostoja Lniski
assistant lecturer Magdalena Boffito, M.A.
assistant lecturer Paulina Buźniak, M.A.

The Department of Printmaking:
1922-1934 Władysław Skoczylas
1934-1936 Leon Wyczółkowski
1936-1939 Stanisław Ostoja Chrostowski

The Lithography Atelier becomes an independent atelier with the right to grant diplomas:
1950-1970 Józef Pakulski
1970-1984 Marian Rojewski
1984-1992 Roman Artymowski
1992-2008 Władysław Winiecki

Lithography is a technique of planographic printing invented in 1798 by Alois Senefelder, an actor from Prague, the author of theatrical and musical pieces. Looking for an easy way to reproduce his work, he realized that stone could make a good matrix – he used limestone, mined in Solenhofen, near Munich. The technique became very popular in the 19th c. as it made possible the production of a large number of prints, and was used for both practical (e.g. printed letter paper, visiting cards) and artistic (albums of portraits or landscapes, book illustrations) purposes. The first person to become interested in lithography in Poland was Jan Siestrzyński, a doctor and a teacher, but above all – a community worker. He mastered lithography in Munich and opened an atelier in Warsaw's Pałac Kazimierzowski, where the alumni of the Institute for the Deaf were taught the new profession.

Lithography at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts

The Warsaw Szkoła Sztuk Pięknych [SSP, The School of Fine Arts] opened in 1904. The school's founder and its first dean was the painter Kazimierz Stabrowski. Among the first five professors nominated by the school were painters Ferdynand Ruszczyc and Karol Tichy, who were joined in the following years by Edward Trojanowski, Stanisław Lentz, Ignacy Pieńkowski, and many others. In the beginning the school did not offer a course in the graphic arts and did not employ graphic artists but one should mention the fact that even the early professors authored some prints – lithographs. Lithography, because it gives the possibility of drawing on a stone with a litho crayon or tusche in a considerably unhindered fashion, was particularly attractive to painters. Their black and white prints would yield results similar to charcoal, crayon or tusche drawings, whereas the lithographs in colour would resemble watercolours, pastel or colour crayon drawings.

In 1922 The School of Fine Arts was nationalized. It remained a school with only one faculty, divided into four departments: painting, sculpture, interior design, architecture and graphic arts. The nationalized School employed new professors, including Józef Czajkowski, Mieczysław Kotarbiński, Wojciech Jastrzębowski and Felicjan Szczęsny Kowarski. The most important events not only in the history of the Warsaw school but also in the history of Polish graphic art of the 20th century were the establishment of the Department of Graphic Arts, ran by an outstanding graphic artist Władysław Skoczylas in the years 1922-1934, and the foundation of the Department of Applied Graphic Arts ran since 1926 by Edmund Bartłomiejczyk. In 1932 The School of Fine Arts was given the status of an academy. It remained a one faculty school, with several departments, including The Department of Printmaking and the Department of Applied Graphic Arts. Since 1934, after Skoczylas' death, the Department was governed by Leon Wyczółkowski. At first, he only dealt with painting, but in 1900 he abandoned painting in favour of printmaking and since 1907 he concentrated exclusively on lithography, in which he truly excelled. In his work he used all the means available in this technique. He drew in chalk, tusche, pen and ink, used stone engraving, spray technique, often combining diverse techniques. He would say: You can do without colour. The most sophisticated colourful things have no appeal to me. I prefer to have the whole keyboard, from the bass to the treble keys, in black. Music, painting, poetry. His favourite motifs included trees, flowers and architecture. One should emphasize the fact that Wyczółkowski is yet another painter fascinated by printmaking. He was the only one, however, to completely abandon painting in favour of lithography. Leon Wyczółkowski died in 1936 – before his death he made the effort to ensure that his post is taken over by Edward Czerwiński, whom he appreciated very much. However, the position was given to Stanisław Ostoja-Chrostowski, an outstanding illustrator, focused on woodcut, which resulted in the domination of this technique in the department. In 1950 the Józef Pakulski became the head of the Lithography Atelier at the Graphic Arts Faculty. He studied at the SSP between 1928 and 1933, majoring in printmaking at Władysław Skoczylas' printmaking atelier and at Felicjan Szczęsny Kowarski?s painting atelier. Pakulski was an outstanding printmaker and a fabulous teacher, able to arouse his students? interest in lithography. He left a rich body of work. His work flourished in the 1960s. He focused on lithography in colour, creating compositions referring to myths, fairy tales and the work of great artists of the past. Pakulski, similarly to Wyczółkowski, was a printmaker with the soul of a painter, and just like the latter, he focused exclusively on lithography. Pakulski's students included, besides Janusz Przybylski, Tadeusz Łapiński, Jan Leśniak, Aleksander Turek, Carlos Llas and Władysław Winiecki.

Janusz Przybylski, who received a painting diploma at Aleksander Kobzdej's atelier, was both a painter and a lithographer. His very individual art, using a characteristic, spare line, focuses on the existential problems of contemporary people and foregrounds the human body and its imperfections. The artist created a cycle of black and white lithographs entitled Niewolnicy [Slaves], and, in the 1970s, the cycle called Błędne koło [Vicious Circle], referring to the title of Jacek Malczewski's painting, and drawing upon Goya, Picasso, Rembrandt and Velázquez. Pakulski's students included: an outstanding lithographer Czesław Podgórski and painters: Edward Dwurnik and Zygmunt Magner. Professor Pakulski retired in 1970 but remained in touch with his students – he worked with them in Doświadczalna Pracownia Litografii [Experimental Lithography Atelier] in one of Warsaw's districts, Saska Kępa. The Lithography Atelier at the Academy of Fine Arts was taken over by Marian Rojewski, a student of Wacław Waśkowski. Rojewski worked in diverse techniques – linocut, steel engraving and mixed techniques. In the 1970s the Atelier was given the right to grant diplomas and the Painting Faculty students may prepare minors to their diplomas there. Professor Marian Rojewski died in 1984. The Atelier was taken over by Roman Artymowski who focused on painting, printmaking and book design. Since 1992 the Atelier was ran by a student of Józef Pakulski – Władysław Winiecki. This outstanding artist, who showed his exceptional skills even as a student, works in seclusion, ignoring the dominating artistic tendencies. He creates monumental, mysterious pejzaże [landscapes] and portrety [portraits] as well as ambiguous compositions, depicting a mass of crowded, tangled figures. In his perfect black and white prints he manages to obtain effects that are very unusual in lithography. Thanks to Władysław Winiecki lithography once again became an important subject at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 2000, at an exhibition in the Warsaw gallery Aneks, professor Winiecki presented his students: Błażej Ostoja Lniski (since 1999 an assistant lecturer at the Lithography Atelier), Katarzyna Bakun, Jan Balcerzak, Łukasz Kamieniak, Julia Burkacka, Anna Wojtczak, Beata Ziembińska, Magdalena Piotrowska, Katarzyna Jaworska, Małgorzata Dmitruk and Marcin Hugo-Bader. Once again, as in the case of professor Pakulski's students, there appeared a group of young artists who use lithography in a very individual and creative manner. Błażej Ostoja Lniski?s work is a case in point – drawing upon his painterly education, in his lithographs in colour he refers to nature, transforming its elements into melancholic signs.

In 2008, after professor Winiecki's death, the Lithography Atelier was taken over by Błażej Ostoja Lniski and his assistant, Magdalena Boffito, who opened a new chapter in the Atelier's history – now the students complete projects that combine traditional printmaking with new media and look for new creative solutions going far beyond the understanding of printmaking as simply a technique of planographic printing.

Text: Anna Grochala