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JÓZEF SZAJNA, one of the most prominent artists of the theatre and art world. Painter, stage designer, director, author of original plays, professor at the Acad. of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He was a prisoner in the concentration camps in Oświęcim and Buchenwald. Member of Anti-Nazi Resistance 1939 - 1945. Born in Rzeszów, Poland, 13 March 1922; diploma in graphics 1952, diploma in stage design, Acad. of Fine Arts, Cracow 1953; stage designer, LUDOWY Theatre, Nowa Huta 1955 - 63; manager, director, LUDOWY Theatre, Nowa Huta 1963 - 66; director, STARY Theatre, Cracow 1966 - 71; founder, manager, director, stage designer, Art Centre STUDIO Theatre - Gallery, Warsaw 1971 - 82.

STUDIO programme

included presentations of contemporary art: exhibitions, concerts, film shows, performances, meetings, workshops; STUDIO Gallery initiated collections of contemporary art; at the Centre were located Postgraduate Stage Design Studies of Acad. of Fine Arts, educating Polish and foreign students under prof. Józef Szajna's supervision.

Stage design, including:

J. Steinbeck - OF MICE AD MEN 1956; F. Werfel - JACOBOWSKY AND THE COLONEL; J. Broszkiewicz THE NAMES OF POWER 1957; A. Camus -STATE OF SIEGE; B. Brecht MOTHER COURAGE; M. Gelderhorde - PANTAGLEISE C. Gozzi - TURANDOT1958; W. Shakespeare THE TEMPEST, F. Durrenmat ROMULUS THE GREAT, THE MADMAN AND THE NUN; St. I. Witkiewicz - IN THE COUNTRY HOUSE 1959; I. Krasiński THE UNDIVINE COMEDY; Aeschylus - ORESTEIA; Kaden Bandrowski - JOY FOR THE GARBAGE HEAP REGAINED 1960; W. Shakespeare - TWELFTH NIGHT 1961; A Mickiewicz -THE FOREFATHERS; F. Durrenmat FRANK V 1962; W. Shakespeare - A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM 1963; Sophocles - ANTIGONE, Aeschylus - SEVEN AGAINST THEBES 1964.

Direction and stage design, including:

I. Gorczycka - FAST AMONG CANNIBALS; St. Wyspiański - ACROPOLIS (co-production J. Grotowski) 1962; M. Gogol - THE GOVERNMET INSPECTOR; Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE 1962; T. Hołuj - THE EMPTY FIELD, F. Kafka -THE CASTLE 1965; St. I. Witkiewicz - THEY. THE NEW DELIVERANCE 1967; Mayakovsky - THE BATHHOUSE; S. O'Casey - CRIMSON DUST 1968; E. Bryl - THE NOVEMBER ISSUE 1969; W. Shakespeare - MACBETH 1970.

Author's performances:


He collaborated with many foreign theatres: Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Yugoslavia, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Portugal.

One-man and group exhibitions, including:

REMINISCENCES - environment, XXXV Biennale of Art, Venice 1970
REMINISC. - env., Ruhrfestspiele, Recklinghausen, exh. scen.,
International Quadriennale, Prague (Gold Medal), Replica I, Goteborg 1971;
IV Art Festival, Warsaw (1st Prize and Gold Medal) 1972;
Munich (Silver Medal) 1974; Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon 1977;
REMINISC., (Gegenwart einer Vergangenheit) - env., Frankfurt am Main 1978;
SILHOUETTES AND SHADOWS - env., Biennale Sao Paulo, 1979 and 1989;
REMINISC. - env., World Exibition.
THE PORTAIT OF MAN - Humboldt Mus., Berlin 1980;
Budapest, Brussels, Bochum 1985; Cracow 1986;
Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw, Paris 1987;
XLIV Biennale, Venice, Paris, Santa Cruz de Tenerife 1990;
Warsaw, Poznań, Gdańsk, Gdynia 1991 - 92;
Stage Design Centre, Katowice, Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid 1993;
International Triennale, Majdanek, EUROPE - EUROPE, Bonn 1994;
Oświęcim, Dusseldorf, Bochum, Warsaw 1995;
Opole, Weimar-Buchenwald, Kalisz 1996;
Warsaw, Sculpture Centre, Orońsko 1997; Kunsthalle, Graz, Zamek,
Szczecin, National Museum, Wrocław, National Museum, Osaka 1998;
Polish Culture Institute, Budapest 1999, Polidh Culture Institute Rome 2000;
Mus. Permanente, Milan 2001; TEART, Pałac Sztuki, Kraków,
Contemporary Art Centre Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw, TEART,
Polish Artists' Association, Warsaw 2002;
TEART, exhibition and happening THE LADDER TO HEAVE,N Nat. Mus., Warsaw, TEART, Sankt Petersburg 2003;
"Hort da noch jemand?" - Weimar-Buchenwald 2005 r.;
"Hort da noch jemand?" - Berlin 2007 r.

Theatre Festivals, including:

REPLICA II, Fest., Edinburgh 1972; REPLICA III, IX Fest. Mondial du Theatre, Nancy, REPLICA IV, Warsaw 1973; DANTE, Int. Rassegna dei Teatri Stabili, Florence, Essen 1974; New York, tournee USA, Int. Fest. Cervantino, Mexico, Dortmund, Budapest 1975l REPLICA III, Stockholm 1976; WITKACY III, Amsterdam, XIII Festival, Kalisz (Special Prize), Spectrum '77, Int. Festival Villach, International Theatres Festival, Paris 1977; REPLICA III, Bucharest, Madrid, Barcelona 1978; Int. Festival, Bergen, Tampere, London, Stockholm, Stuttgart 1979; REPLICA V International Theatres Festival, Paris, Avignon, Rennes, Mulhouse - tournee France, Int. Fest. Cervantino, Mexico 1980; DANTE ALIVE, Dubrovnik 1981; International Theatres Festival, Sofia 1982; REPLICA, International Theatres Festival, Caracas, 1983; REPLICA VI, International Theatres Festival, Istambul, International Theatres Festival, Finland 1984; A CONTEMPORARY DANTE, Essen 1985; REPLICA VI, Quebec Fest. (prize), REPLICA VII, Tel- Aviv/Jerusalem 1986; DANTE, REPLICA, Moscow 1987; TRACES I, Chorzów, TRACES II, (Mayor's of Ankara Award for the most outstanding artistic event in the season 93/94 IZLER II - TRACES II), Ankara, EARTH - workshops, Cairo, VIDA Y MUERTE DEL POETA CERVANTES, Alcala de Henares 1993, Riga, Vilnus 1994; REMNANTS, Fest. Intern. de Theatro de Almada, Portugal 1995; DEBALLAGE, International Theatres Festival, (Złoty Lew - prize), Lvov 2000. DEBALLAGE, Cervantino Int. Fest., Mexico City, Guanahuato, San Leon 2001.

Awards, Distinctions and Titles of Honour:

The Bachelor Cross of Polonia Restituta, The Commandor Cross of Polonia Restituta, Commandor Cross with a Star of Polonia Restituta; Great Cross of Polonia Restituta, Polish Critics' Prize 1957; ITI distinction, Paris 1958; Artisitc Award of Nowa Huta 1959; 1st, 2nd, 3rd Degree Award of the Ministry of Culture and Art 1971, 1979, 2002; City of Kraków Award 1971; Naming the theatre in Port Jefferson after Józef Szajna, USA, member of Art-Aiap (Unesco), Szajna gets the title of an Accademic with the Golden Medal Accademia Italia delle Arti e del Lavoro Salsomaggiore Terme 1981; Accademia Italia delle Arti e del Lavoro (Golden Centaur - prize) Salsomaggiore and Golden Medal of the International Parliament 1982; Satue of Victory - the World Cultural Prize of Centro Studi e Ricerche delle Nazioni, Salsomaggiore and Ribbon with Golden Medal (European Banner of Art) 1984; Oscar d'Italia granted by Accademia d'Europa Calvatone 1985; Capital City of Warsaw Award 1987; IV Quadriennale (Golden Centaur Award - for outstanding artistic achievements, Accademia Italia, Cremona, 1988; Inter. Hon. Citation from Experimental Theatre Cairo 1992; (Golden Mask - award) Bielsko - Biała 1994; Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation's Award USA 1995. In 1997 Szajna Gallery in Rzeszów comes into existence. President of Intern. Assn. Soc. Europeene de Culture Poland, member of Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences, Kraków, member of International. Auschwitz Council, member of Rada Ochrony Pomników Walki i Męczeństwa, member of jury of Leonardo da Vinci World Award, Mexico. Honorary Citizen of the City of Rzeszów, Opole, Tczew. Doctor Honoris Causa of Oldenburg University, Germany 2002. Doctor Honoris Causa of Śląski University, Poland 2003.

Works in museums and private collections in Poland and abroad:

- Nat. Mus. in Cracow (Poland)
- Nat. Mus. in Warsaw (Poland)
- Nat. Mus. in Wroclaw (Poland)
- Nat. Mus. in Gdansk (Poland)
- Art Mus. in Göteborg (Sweden)
- Bochum City Mus. (Germany)
- Alexander Pushkin Museum in Moscow (Russia) - Nat. Mus. in Osaca (Japan)
- Vatican Collections (Roma)
- Davies Mus. Boston (USA)
- Yad Vashem Mus. in Jerusalem (Israel)
- Ludwig Sammlungen Mus. in Budapest (Hungary)
- Buchenwald Mus. in Weimar-Buchenwald (Germany)
- Mus. of History in Bonn (Germany)
- Nat. Mus. in Katowice (Poland)
- District Mus. in Lublin (Poland)
- Szajna Gallery in Rzeszów (Poland)
- Polish Sculpture Centre in Orońsko (Poland)
- District Mus. in Chełm (Poland)
- Oświęcim-Brzezinka Mus. in Oświęcim (Poland)
- d'Arte Cortina Gallery, Milan (Italy)
- STUDIO Gallery, STUDIO Art. Centre in Warsaw (Poland)

Artworks in private collections, including:

- K. G. Johnssen Family, Essen (Germany)
- President of Czech Rep. V. Havel, Prague (Czech Rep.)
- Piotr Dmochowski Gallery, Paris (France)
- Prof., Prof. A. B. Korzeniewscy, Warsaw (Poland)
Bibliography comprises over 300 items including 6 book monographs, filmography - over 30 items and records of performances as well as programmes and events.

Most significant publications:

SZAJNA, M. Czanerle, Wyd. Morskie, Gdańsk 1974,
JÓZEF SZAJNA - PLASTYKA, TEATR, J. Madeyski, E. Morawiec, Wyd. Literackie, Kraków 1974,
JÓZEF SZAJNA I JEGO TEATR, Z. Tomczyk - Watrak, Wyd. PIW, Warszawa 1985,
JÓZEF SZAJNA, J. Madeyski, A. Żurowski, Wyd. Arkady, Warszawa 1992,
JÓZEF SZAJNA I JEGO ŚWIAT (Józef Szajna and His World), B. Kowalska, Z Taranienko, Wyd. Galeria Zachęta, Hotel Sztuki, Warszawa 2000,
JÓZEF SZAJNA KUNST UND THEATER, I. Scheurmann, V. Knigge, Wyd. Wallstein Verlag, Gottingen 2002.

Most significant author's publications:

O NOWEJ FUNKCJI SCENOGRAFII (The New Function of Scenography), 1962;
MATERIA SPEKTAKLU (The Matter of Spectacle), 1965;
TEATR OTWARTY (The Open Theatre), 1971;
TEATR ORGANICZNY (Organic Theatre), 1977;
DNO (Bottom), 1979;
NARRACJA WIZUALNA (Visual Narrative), 1996.

Films about Józef Szajna's creation, including:

SZTUKA W NIEWOLI (Art In Captivity),
TEATR WEDŁUG SZAJNY (Theatre after Szajna),
OMNIA MEA - PORTRET JÓZEFA SZAJNY (Omnia Mea - Portrait of Józef Szajna).

From 2005 to 2006 he participates in international conferences and meetings on 'Teart' - art and theatre in Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Boston and Oświęcim. In April 2005 he opens the exhibition of his works (around 1000 m2) in relation to the 60th anniversary of Buchenwald concentration camp liberation, entitled "Does anyone hear that". The exhibition is designed by Łukasz Szajna. He holds exhibitions in Budapest and Bucharest. Number of interviews come out - "My Testament", "Building of Remembrance and Reconciliation Mound in Oświęcim". In September 2005 he is given a prestigious "Gloria artis" award for his services for culture. In March 2006 in Hannover, individual exhibition and lectures are organized along with exposition of Remembrance and Reconciliation Mould design. In March 2007 the 85th anniversary of the artist's birth and 60th anniversary of the artist's work are celebrated in Warsaw, Katowice and Rzeszów. In 2007 he is granted Honoris Causa Docotrate of Rzeszów University and he lays a corner stone at the Mound of Remembrance and Reconciliation in Oświęcim - The City of Peace.

— multimedia-szajna