On the morning of April 24, 1894. The exhibition of the Society for the Promotion of Fine Arts in Warsaw is coming to an end. It is visited by a painter whose work is displayed here. He asks the doorman for a ladder and places it next to the board. He climbs on it and takes out the knife and stabs the board with a knife. A lot of facts – the rest of the events turn into rumors and guesses. This is how Władysław Podkowiński destroyed his most famous work “Szał”, also known as “The Frenzy of Exultations”.
“Mad Jubilation” features a red-haired nude woman on a crazy black horse. The animal shows its teeth, its tongue is prominent, its nostrils are wide, and its mouth is frothy. The woman riding it closes her eyes, her flowing hair braided into a horse’s mane.
The painting, more than 3 meters high, was destroyed by the author, and it was posthumously restored by the painter Wittold Urbansky. It was purchased by Feliks Jasieński, who donated it to the National Museum in Krakow. It has been in the facility group since 1920.
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Sukiennice, 19th Century Polish Art Gallery. One of the walls of the Chełmoński room became a scene of the scene taking place in Podkowiński’s painting. Some visitors stopped in front of Podkowiński’s work, and raised their heads from it, the question that most likely bothers them: what does the artist mean? In the nineteenth century, similar reflections reddened the minds of art connoisseurs and viewers.
– “Sza’i” is unique in that it was a recent work in the times in which it was created. It is enough to look at the composition and the light … It is considered a statement of Polish symbolism for a reason. It is more than just a representation of a naked woman and a horse. The picture shows incredible emotions – perhaps unhappy love, depressive mood and the title “madness” – says Ursula Kozakovska Zaucha of the National Museum in Krakow in an interview with Interia.pl.
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As stated by a friend of the artist, Stefan Lorisewicz, the idea for the painting caught Podkowiński’s head as early as 1889. While living in Paris, he was supposed to see a woman riding a crazy horse. This vision made him feel uneasy and his thoughts troubled. He worked on sketch drawings for several years. The painting was created in Warsaw at the beginning of 1893/1894 in the artist’s studio located in the glazed Belvedere of the Kosakovsky Palace.
“Szał” was first presented to the public at the Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw in April 1894. A sensation erupted, and the show was accompanied by a great scandal. On the first day, a thousand viewers watched the painting – in total, during the 36 days of the exhibition, a total of 12 thousand people stood face to face with the “frenzy”. People. Thus, the exhibition earned almost 350 rubles.
Podkowiński’s painting caused a scandal due to the juxtaposition of a naked woman with a horse. Acting in this situation and not in any other, the emotions and ambiguity of performance made him raucous about the action. And then everything was new, which is why it caused such a great shock – explains Kozakowska-Zaucha.
However, despite the huge popularity, the artist could not find a buyer for the painting. The highest bids were 3 thousand. rubles, while Podkowiński demanded 10,000 rubles. rubles.
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“On a huge horse rumbling, on a dreadful beast thrown into disarray, in the confusion of turbulent clouds and nebulae, lies a half-naked woman, wrapping her arms around the horse’s neck, and hugging him with her face, chest, and body, convulsively flinging her sides with her legs. […] She is burning – this mad mare is the madness of her desires, the volcano of her emotions breathing lava and the whirl of flame, it is the madness of her blood, her imagination, her body. […]- Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer tried this vivid description of the time.
The photo aroused numerous discussions in the press. There were arguments in the papers about the difference between art and porn, about the artist’s right to express his feelings and the limits of good taste. Despite this, the work was appreciated by the majority of critics and the public – and this despite noting the mistakes made by art connoisseurs. Conservative townspeople expressed their indignation when it came to offending good morals.
In “Garage”, which was published in St. Petersburg, columnist Urbanus admitted that Podkovinsky’s work is completely original.
Embodying a frantic dream, but full of poetry and emotion, this wonderfully imaginative painting immediately puts Mr. Podkowiński in the first row – among the gentlemen. […] It’s a frenzy of sensory intoxication, but very different from the classic, medieval, and philosophical madness of the era leading up to the Great French Revolution. […] Here are the limits of madness to destructive insanity – fatal or suicidal – known from psychiatry […].
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On the morning of April 24, 1984, Podkowiński came to Zachęta in Warsaw and cut his work with a knife. “Zaa’i” received 12 knife strikes from its creator. Why did the artist destroy his painting?
– my drawings […] appealed to the audience that I fulfilled my obligations to them and left “Szał” in the gallery almost until the end of the deadline; In those days it was supposed to be taken off, so instead of rolling it on a reel and hiding it, I preferred to envision an experienced profession, a completely individual one – Podkowiński said to “Pravda” journalist Aleksander Świętochłowski.
– It was above my will (…) The moment was hell. The torn piece of cloth was making a sound like screeching. And when I was in the pit, and a white scaffolding tree flashed by several arms, and fear took me … Because it was like bleaching bones in a split corpse – this is how Podkovinsky described the moment of destruction of the “frenzy” and Victor Gomoliki.
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The artist’s decision may have been due to rumors about a woman who was supposed to be immortalized in the painting. She was not supposed to reciprocate Podkowiński’s feelings. The destruction of the painting and the premature death of the author of “Sza’i” (he died of tuberculosis at the age of 29) fueled the fire and caused a torrent of speculation. Where did the hypothesis of unhappy love come from? It was a cut on the canvas, which indicates that the target of the artist’s “attack” was a woman.
According to various reports, Podkowiński was an admirer of Ewa Kotarbińska, whom he met during his summer stay at the Wincentyna Karska Palace in Chrzęsne near Warsaw. The woman was the daughter of the owners of many estates. At the age of 28, she married Miłosz Kotarbiński, son of the estate manager in Chrzęstne, where her parents live.
“The family of the person with whom he loved unhappily saw a resemblance to the woman from the movie“ Rampage ”and with harsh words of condemnation turned to Podkowiński. This, without bearing reproach and pride, as always, destroyed the painting” – said Helena Kinyorska, whose memories are recorded based on On request Wiesława Wierzchowska.
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Podkowiński’s painting continues to be a great source of inspiration for artists and advertisers. But from the start. In 1899, Jean-Auguste Kiselevsky’s play “In the Net”, whose main character was a drawing student fascinated by the “frenzy”, became popular.
The subject of a naked woman on a horse appears – as a symbol of eroticism – in the 1983 film The Widow Maker. In 1994, during the Polish Song Festival in Opole, Jacek Wójcicki performed “The Song of the Horse” based on “Rampage” at the centenary of the painting.
“Szał” was also the inspiration for one of the covers of “Machina” magazine. In 2007, a photo of singer Tatyana Okupnik appeared on the cover, which resembles a scene in the picture.
The image was popular when it came to being used in advertising. In 2007, the campaign for the new black and white version of the Prince Polo tape was launched on large-format Jet Line networks in Gdansk and Warsaw. The product ad, inspired by Podkowiński’s work, featured a woman on a zebra, rather than a horse.