Bolesław Biegas

(1877 - 1954)

Bolesław Biegas

Biography

Polish sculptor, painter and writer. Early orphaned by both parents, even as a child he displayed artistic talent. Biegas began his sculpture lessons with the help of priest Aleksander Rzewnicki. After a short practice in Antoni Panasiuk’s sculpture studio in Warsaw, he returned to his hometown Koziczyn. Then the young artist was taken care of by Doctor Franciszek Rajowski who sent him to school and guaranteed him artistic freedom. Works of the young artist were presented to Aleksander Świętochowski, philosopher and writer, who organized Biegas’ first exhibition in the Wende’s bookstore in Warsaw.

Biegas was developing his technical skills during his studies at the School of Fine Arts in Krakow in 1897-1901. At that time he remained in the custody of Professor Odon Budwij, who had a huge impact on the artist’s intellectual development. First Biegas was learning sculpture techniques in Alfred Daun's studio, next under Konstanty Laszczka's supervision. He gradually started abandoning the style corresponding to a mode of academic teaching. Instead, he began creating modern sculptures with simple and geometrical forms. Biegas also remained under the influence of the decadent and symbolist trends, popularized in Krakow by Stanislaw Przybyszewski. In 1901 he was expelled from the university for the sculpture entitled Book of Life, which was surrounded by the atmosphere of scandal. In the same year his works were displayed in the Xth Vienna Secession Exhibition. The scholarship from the Warszawskie Towarzystwo Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych enabled him to move to Paris, where he met his new patrons, Henryk and Jadwiga Trütschel, the barony. However, he did not take the courses at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts, instead, he abandoned formal education to the development of his own creative activity. From the year about 1900 he exhibited mainly in the following salons of art: Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Salon d'Automne and Salon des indépendants. Works created by Biegas were also presented on the individual exhibitions, including parisian Galerie des Artistes Modernes, Galerie Andre Seligmann, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Galerie Arts et Artistes Anglais, galeries in London, St. Petersburg and Kiev. His exhibitions have been widely discussed by eminent critics such as: Guillaume Apollinaire, Emile Verhaeren, André Fontaines or Louis Vauxcelles.

In the initial phase of his sculptural activity it is possible to distinguish two trends: 1) aiming to simplify and geometrify forms and 2) referring to the style of Art Nouveau emphasizing the fluidity of form. In later years he worked on the cycle of sculptures dedicated to poets and musicians, including Wagner, Chopin, Słowacki and Mickiewicz. He also began working on double-faced  sculptures, combining two separate profiles. Since 1910 he had been interested in the act and anatomy and after the war he returned to the geometrical sculptures influenced by Cubism. Since 1900 he also focused on painting, but only few works of the period have survived. Biegas is an author of the series of political images, which caused stir at public exhibitions. He also created a series of paintings entitled The Vampires of War, depicting fantastic creatures and animals. This cycle foreshadowed the type of Biegas’ spherical images. Another extensive cycle of paintings was Mysticism of Infinity and the series of images dedicated to prominent personalities, kept in similar dreamy and symbolic convention. After the World War II the artist created the cycle of paintings- Nations and Politicians. He had not achieved the notable success as a writer, though. His work was judged rather negatively by the contemporary critics. Nevertheless, he left thirty works that contain valuable biographical threads.