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Blurred color, minimalist shape, illusion and illusion. These words definitely define the most recognizable works from the creative output of Wojciech Fangor, which today break auction records on the art market. The artist left behind paintings and many prints that attract collectors with their unique op art aesthetics, as well as their investment potential. However, before Fangor's illusionistic works took over the Polish art world, the artist was involved in many projects exploring his creative aspirations and possibilities. What did Wojciech Fangor do at the beginning of his creative activity? Why did we love his abstract compositions so much that we are able to spend millions of zlotys on them?

Fangor's socialist realist creative beginning

Wojciech Fangor (1922-2015) made his debut after the Second World War, so his creative career began in the difficult times of Socialist Realism. The artist, now known for his primarily abstract art, at the time had to limit his inventiveness and paint representational and realistic paintings, as only this form of art was accepted by the communist authorities. Fangor took up the socialist realist challenge and between 1949 and 1953 he mainly made paintings in line with the propagated doctrine. Two titles from this period of the author's oeuvre have gone down in art history - ‘Characters’ and ‘Mother Korean’.  Both canvases are rooted in the aesthetic manner of the time and deal with current social themes. The first is a straightforward depiction of opposites. The title characters are, on the one hand, a female representation of capitalist wealth and artificiality, and on the other, a pair of hard-working, well-built and serious citizens of a socialist country. Fangor invites viewers to answer for themselves which of these ways is better. Mother Korean, on the other hand, is a monumental painting alluding to the ongoing armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Here, the artist has opted for an individual approach. He focuses his attention not on the overall scale of the tragedy, but on the drama of a single family, in this case a young mother with her child. Although ‘Korean Mother’ does not meet all the requirements of Socialist Realism, both canvases have been recognised as some of the most important works of the period. Fangor himself received many awards for his works created just after the war. He believed that his academic training and innate artistic ability would help him to propose a socialist realism drawing on classicist art and romanticism. His idea was mostly positively received and Fangor became a recognisable and well-known Polish artist, which certainly contributed to the further development of his career. 

 

Op-art, minimalism and Fangor's subsequent artistic career

After his Socialist Realist beginnings, Fangor became interested in a variety of creative projects; for example, he co-created the world's first spatial installation ‘Study of Space’ with Stanisław Zamecznik. The 1960s arrived, which Wojciech Fangor began with numerous trips around Europe and the United States. During his trips, he was involved in work at universities and art academies, lecturing and teaching. It was then and in the early 1970s that Fangor created his most famous series of op art and minimalist works. The resulting paintings and prints are characterised by blurred shapes with distinctive colours, whose composition and manner of representation makes the created abstraction seem to go beyond the canvas, play with space and pulsate specifically towards the viewer. It is these works that are currently the most sought-after works by Fangor on the art market and are the ones that break auction records. However, they were already appreciated by the public at the time, resulting in an exhibition of Fangor's op artworks at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1970. The artist devoted the following decades to dealing with critical art and returning to figurative painting. In the 21st century, Fangor took up a number of projects, including a series of palimpsest paintings (reinterpreting old sketches and drawings) or the artistic development of the second line of the Warsaw metro (entrances, decorations, station names). In the last years of his life, Wojciech Fangor became one of the most expensive and sought-after Polish artists, which led to several significant auction records. 

 

Auction records 

In 2013, a work by Wojciech Fangor entitled ‘M 8’ was sold for 506,000 zlotys. In October 2014, ‘M 15’ was auctioned for PLN 624,000. These results were already records in the artist's career, but after his death in 2015, the prices of Fangor's works began to rise even further. This can be seen in the painting ‘MA 32’, which reached the sum of one million zlotys at auction in 2016. Since then, prices have only increased. In 2018, the record was 4.7 million zlotys for a work by Fangor, today it is 7.5 million zlotys, specifically for ‘M 39’ sold in December 2023. The noticeable upward trend makes one consider buying a work by Fangor not only for aesthetic or collector reasons, but also for investment reasons. To all those who have purchased Fangor in advance, we congratulate you on your sense and on increasing your capital with a work of art. If your collection lacks a work by this artist, we invite you to explore the range of paintings and prints by Wojciech Fangor at Artbidy.

Added 2024-05-15 in by Rozalia Ziołkowska

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