Wojciech Fangor was best known for circular abstract works, he lived for many years in the West and had a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim, New York. Fangor, the Polish pioneer of Op art, died on 25 October.
Fangor, born in Warsaw in 1922, had to study art privately after the outbreak of the Second World War. The artist received a diploma in absentia from Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts in 1946, where Fangor later served as an assistant professor from 1953 to 1961. When Stalin’s death in 1953 opened up Poland’s cultural policies, the artist gave up Socialist Realism and became a founding member of the Polish Poster School.
The artist left Poland in 1961, living in West Berlin and England before settling in the US in 1966. He taught at the Farleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey, and went on to teach at Harvard University. The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, staged a solo exhibition of his work in 1970.
Then in 1999 Fangor returned to Poland – which, according to the auctioneer and curator Simon de Pury – had a negative impact on the artist’s career. “If he had stayed in the US he would have a much higher profile today,” De Pury told the Financial Times. De Pury’s exhibition space in Mayfair, central London, opened in December 2014 with an exhibition of Fangor’s works.
The artist was one of Poland’s most highly regarded artists. At last week’s Frieze Masters fair in London, Mayor Gallery reportedly sold four pieces by the artist priced at $300,000, or approximately £19,000 each.
Image: Wojciech Fangor © Wlodzimierz Wasyluk.