Witkacy portret Egenii Wiszomirskiej

Asymmetrical Lady’s Visit to Krakow

Eugenia Wyszomirska, a beautiful and intriguing woman, permanently residing in the Museum of Katowice History, has paid a holiday visit to Krakow and can be admired in ten outstanding portraits by Witkacy.  Who was she?

Asymmetric Lady – 10 portraits of Eugenia Wyszomirska

Witkacy wrote to her on 14 July 1937: „Would you perhaps like to come for dinner tomorrow (Thursday) or on Friday as I am longing to paint Your Asymmetry and tell you a few stories?”.

When they met for the first time in a street in Warsaw four years earlier, Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz was 48 years old, had a friendly partnership with his wife, numerous love affairs, as well as an established, albeit highly controversial at the time, position in Polish culture and art. Eugenia, aged 30, had original looks and a marriage in crisis, so the invitation to visit Zakopane to pose for a famous painter and a handsome man did not seem unattractive to her. He was, in turn, attracted to her irregular facial features, and above all, to her striking resemblance to his fiance, who committed suicide in 1914. Since Witkacy felt partially responsible for this traumatic event, which still haunted him, he repeatedly transformed it into art.

Eugenia also had an air of mystery about her. Despite her humble origin from a poor, illiterate, working class family from the Częstochowa suburbs, she fascinated men. As a 19-year-old, she got married for the first time to a jeweller and became a wealthy townswoman. In 1933, thanks to Witkacy, she was plunged into the vortex of Zakopane demonism. She lived in well-known guesthouses, explored the Tatra Mountains with the famous Zofia Krzeptowska (aka Kapucha [Cabbage]), was friends with Waleria Głogowska, whose husband – Józef Głogowski – introduced her to the world of photography, and attended high-profile gatherings of social elites. In 1935, she married Józef Stopka – a  Tatra rescuer and guide. Witkacy continually asked her to pose for him, insatiable with her face and his own legend, and created dozens of portraits of the Asymmetrical Lady. He would write to her, for example: “I am asking you, please, to make yourself available for two hours on Tuesday and visit me at half past eleven for an important conversation and one (or perhaps two) drawing before an orgy”, and while sending her a letter, nota bene from Katowice, he addressed her: A Son Excellence La Dame Asymétrique…

After the war, she settled in Katowice, ran a photography studio, got married for the third time and got divorced. On her deathbed, she donated the 26 preserved portraits to the municipality, thus motivating the authorities to establish the Katowice History Museum (1981).

Natalia Kruszynaan art historian, senior curator at the Katowice History Museum, author of books  Pałam chęcią rysowania Jej Asymetrji… [I long to draw Your Asymmetry] Witkacy and Witkacy i kobiety. Nienasycenie [Witkacy and Women. Insatiability], which constituted a commentary to the Katowice exhibition under the same title.

On 9 August at 12 p.m., all are welcome to attend a meeting with Natalia Kruszyna, which will be held by the portraits.


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