Sunday, 24 March 2013

Janina Konarska, Polish printmaker

Janina Konarska (born Seideman) - Słonimska
Łódź  1900 - 1975 Warsaw
Polish painter, sculptor and woodblock printmaker

I stumbled upon a print by this Polish artist and here’s the result of my initial  research. Amazingly Janina Konarska is hardly known outside Poland and all text I could find I had to translate. But here is: all color woodblock prints I could find shown together for the first time in this posting.   
Born in a family of textile factory owners she initially was trained as a teacher artist. Later entering the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts she was Wladyslaw Skoczylas (1883-1934) printmaker and art educator, favourite student.
In 1918 she adopted the artist name of Konarska, which was officialised in 1924 also for her daughter Hanka. During the Polish-Russian War (1918-1921), the fight for Polands' independence, she worked as a nurse treating and caring for the injured soldiers. Janina Konarska exhibited successfully internationally during the 1920's and 1930's in 1932 winning a medal for her “Skiers” in Los Angeles (US).

Konarska in the 1920’s belonged to Poland’s inner circle of intellectuals, artists and writers. Her friends described her as stunningly beautiful: a "Sophie in  Soplicowo Garden” hinting at Poland’ s famous literary national epic epos Pan Tadeuzs (Sir Taddeus) by poet  Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855). Below a still from the 1999 movie (note also the beautiful flowers !)

This 19 pencil sketch below, I could not find any sculptures or paintings by her hand, is of pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982), with Frederique Chopin (1810-1849) and Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) among the most famous of Polands' sons.
Besides Janina's iconic beauty she was an intellectual, and a passionate lover of Polish poetry. And, it is said, of Polish poets, writers and artists. Her turbulent love life was as legendary as her beauty. 

In 1934 to anyones surprise she married writer, poet and journalist Antoni Slonimski (1895-1976) gradually ending her own artistic career dedicating the remainder of her life to her husbands career.

In most of the woodblock prints I’ve found the birds-eye views and depiction of sporting events is eminent. Janina is buried in Warsaw along with her husband, who died in a car accident.
All comments, corrections and additions on this posting are warmly welcomed. See also my posting on Adam Bunsch (1896-1969), very much a contemporary of Janina and also a Polish printmaker unobscured in this Blog. 

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use


  1. She is beautiful. Her prints are lovely, too. Her life would have made a good movie. I looked up Pan Tadeuzs on the Internet and it doesn't have a very good rating. Great research, Gerrie.

  2. I like her prints very much. The movie created after the Polish Epos Pan Tadeusz is probably like Charlton Heston and Cecil B. Demille's 10 commandments: one should stick to reading the book.