Jagoda Przybylak, Fotografowie poszukujący, Portret nr 3, 1970/71


At Close Ups show at Propaganda we present the earliest works of Jagoda Przybylak, these which could be fundamental for the photography history of the 60. and 70. but unfortunately totally unknown in the West and some later works from 2000 which show the progress of Przybylak’s basic methods.

Jagoda Przybylak (born 1929) is a pioneer of Polish conceptual photography of early 1970’ and one of very few examples of female artist in that discipline. Educated in architecture she switched to photography in her late 30 and immediately entered the art scene with a big impact. Her first work was a result of long lasted process – a series of  detailed macro “portraits” of different nets, made of steel or string, old, squeezed, damaged, etc. She gathered them in four squares and gave a title: “Net – One Hundred Times”. The work made her famous on local art scene. It is also interesting to have
a tiny remark – 40 years after her, the hero of the novel by the famous French writer Michel Houellebecq used the same method photographing the maps.

Later in 1971 she made intriguing portraits of her three friends. She mapped the faces in series of photos and then “puzzled”  these fragments into entire portrait. This way of making photos was absolutely unique (the same method, but fifteen years later, David Hockney used in his “Polaroid Portraits”).

The next step of Jagoda Przybylak was a quite new invention as well. She found the old photo of the street manifestation from 1905 full of anonymous faces dissolved in the crowd. And while looking at it she decided to give back individuality to some of them. She did it with macro photography and  photo enlarger. In the final effect you see the original photo with anonymous crowd next to three panels with individual portraits extracted from it.  The same she did with another group photo of the school class. Enlarged children portraits gave us a picture of individuality of characters and emotions hardly recognized at small post card. After that achievement one could say she became a master of close ups.

In mid seventies Przybylak went to USA and began teaching photography at New York Institute of Technology. Since then she divided her activity between two societies
– Polish and American. This 50% participation in a social life, together with that she was
a woman, what in those times was a handicap, and led her to the edge of art life. She remained in a shadow until nowadays.

Right now the most of art critics, museum directors and curators in Poland claim Przybylak is the first staff! Propaganda gallery wants to lead her the first row she deserves on. We had her successful solo show in 2014 and we exhibit her small retrospective now. In few months time we are going to publish a long (200 pages) interview with Przybylak fulfilled with her works.