The Concept of Metaphor in the Language of Polish Art Critics in the Second Half of the Nineteen-Fifties

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Pojęcie metafory w języku polskiej krytyki artystycznej w drugiej połowie lat pięćdziesiątych XX wieku

The Concept of Metaphor in the Language of Polish Art Critics in the Second Half of the Nineteen-Fifties

The paper covers the issue, not yet systematically studied, of the functioning of the term "metaphor" in the language of Polish art critics of the period of "thaw". The author presents the views of both the artists and the critics, and presents the specific understanding of this term in the area of discussion on art during that period. While collecting the scattered opinions on the concept of metaphor, he orderly organizes and synthesizes them at the same time, and observes the gradual broadening of the application of the term to art until the culminating exhibition Metafory [metaphors] in 1962.

The starting point for analysis is the response of critics to the artistic program of Group 55, which assumed the use of plastic metaphor as one of the ways of building meaning in visual shows. The simplistic and simplified style of Group 55 was partly based on the "poetic use" of artistic forms and relied on the idea of constructing the visual expression based on the untypical arrangement of elements of the real world, partially inspired by surrealist poetics.

The author then cites the statements of such critics as Marcin Czerwiński, Urszula Czartoryska, Janusz Bogucki, Aleksander Wojciechowski and others, who applied the term metaphor to various manifestations of experimental art of "those modern" in the second half of the 1950s in Poland. The paper draws attention to the symbolic character of this interpretative category in the discussion in question, which associated metaphor-based art experiments on the one hand with the late reception of some formal assumptions and solutions of surrealism (especially esthetics of surprise, amazement, effect), and on the other hand with the search for a formula of visual expression for the then fascinations with existentialism and the feeling of a post-war crisis of values.

A specific conclusion of this discussion and the paper itself is the presentation of the voices of art critics concerning the large and widely commented exhibition Metafory (1962), in which the range of "metaphoric" art was considerably broadened, covering the examples of from the paintings of Polish symbolists to surrealizing tendencies of the interwar period to the works of the artists in postwar "modernity". In this way the discussion going on in the circles of artists and critics culminated in an attempt to define the broadly conceived current of metaphoric art.

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Annales UMCS, Artes

The Journal of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University

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