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Drawings by Józef Czapski in Kultura

Kultura was not intended to be an illustrated magazine. Printing illustrations has always been (and still is) expensive. However, if you look carefully through the set of magazines, you can find something. The Editor published illustrations rarely and only until the 1960s, after 1970 we will not find a single one. It’s a pity, considering that he could use the services of outstanding artists. Apart from a dozen or so maps and charts illustrating texts on the economy, which should be noted for the sake of order, in Kultura we find mainly reproductions of Józef Czapski’s works. There are eighteen. Apart from Czapski, only the painter Zygmunt Turkiewicz appears as an illustrator (twice). In the 1950s and 1960s, Turkiewicz was an art reviewer for the magazine.

Reproductions of Czapski's works are two series of sketches from a trip to the USA, dominated by hastily drawn skyscrapers and views from the train window. We also have two two-picture series about the house of Kultura and two tiny precise sketches-variations of “Zurbaran” and “Z. Cranach”. They accompany Czapski’s essay. The only portrait printed in Kultura is the image of Jerzy Stempowski, published after the writer’s death. The original hangs on the wall of Czapski’s studio, in the house of the Literary Institute.

Today’s reader may be impressed by the description of the painting “Kawiarnia [Coffe house”, printed in the so-called gray scale. The editors exercise our imagination in the following way: “The picture shows a man (gray yellows) against a background of frosted glass (dull blue greens), among chairs made of cinnabar, reds and browns.”

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