CYPRIAN NORWID'S ENCOUNTERS WITH PHOTOGRAPHY
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Cyprian Norwid (1821-1883), an outstanding Polish poet, prose writer, thinker, but also a draughtsman, painter, sculptor and graphic artist, commented several times on the role and importance of photography. In 1854 he turned his attention to the 'phenomena', which were the inventions of the 19th century (albeit in accordance with his historical thinking he believed that many of them had been invented and described long ago). He accepted photography and its benefit, appreciating the advantage of a true-to-life picturing of people and things and preserving the memory of them. Norwid himself posed for a photograph several times and, like in his self-portraits, in this way he deliberately created his image himself. In 'Black Flowers' (Czarne Kwiaty), with a 'daguerreotypic pen' he recalled the memories of those who were close to him (among others Fryderyk Chopin, Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Slowacki). From the well-known Warsaw company of Karol Beyer he used to get the 'calling cards' of his friends and acquaintances. He also collected the photographs from all around the world for his 'Orbis Album in Draft' devoted to the history of civilisation, which at the same time was his 'artistic portfolio'. With reference to painting art, Norwid thought that the recent invention of daguerreotype would certainly influence memory and art, but would also outdo a simple, sensitive vision, that is impression, and that was why man had to turn towards expression, which was a 'working out the impression in our hearts'; from this angle he examined the paintings of, for instances, Gustave Courbet and Leon Kaplinski. Although Norwid considered photography as a valuable medium and technical help for painters, yet never he made equal its advantages with the ethos of the fine art, with a spiritual creative act and inner experience of an artist, which he always placed on the highest registers, because 'only a percent of feeling of contemplation could be painted', and 'no photographer could replace a true sketch'.
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