Our Studio Sunday artist this week is Polish-born sculptor and conceptual artist Piotr Kowalski. Kowalski was born in Lviv, Ukraine in 1927, at which point the city was still part of Poland. The artist fled the violence of WWII and lived in Brazil for a short time before studying architecture at MIT from 1947 to 1952.
The above photo, taken in the late 1960’s, depicts Kowalski in the process of creating his 1967 work Cube V. Over the course of his career, the artist created many works modeled after the basic shape of a cube, often using metal bars to create the three-dimensional structures in real life.
Such a studio, then, would have to be equipped for metalworking, and some evidence of work with the medium can be seen in the photograph. In the background in the left-hand side of the photo, tools like metal clamps and pliers hang off the wall. Kowalski probably would have used these to grip the bars and bend the metal into the shapes required for his three-dimensional geometric forms.
The tight frame around Kowalski gives the impression that the studio is quite small and perhaps crowded. Some lighting fixtures can be seen in the top of the frame – given the intense look he has in this photo it seems plausible to assume that Kowalski was a very dedicated artist, often working late into the night to complete a work.
Like Cube V and others after it, the artist’s works often explored the relationships between artwork and technology. Given his educational background, it’s no surprise that Kowalski often brought a scientific sensibility to his art-making. Later in his career, he experimented with more advanced mediums such as the use of neon tubes to create shapes and form words.