The Great Painters

Tadeusz Makowski

- an eternally searching painter of poetic paintings

Tadeusz Makowski
Self-portrait (between 1917 and 1921), Wikipedia

Tadeusz Makowski (1882-1932) 

His work is perfectly distinct and "separate" both against the background of Polish interwar painting and the whole European contemporary art. As a citizen of two cultures (raised on folk art and medieval Krakow), he combined Slavic emotionality with the experience of French Cubism. He fought for his own distinct style for years, persistently and humbly. They spoke of him: "a great loner", "a fanatic of art and work". - Tadeusz Makowski, a charmingly modest and good man, subordinated his whole life to painting.






Tadeusz Makowski


(29 January) Tadeusz Makowski, son of Stanisław (railway clerk) and Petronella, was born in Oświęcim.


He got burned - immobilized by illness at home, started drawing and it became his favourite pastime (there were no artistic traditions in the family until now). In primary school, he also showed his ability to mathematics, with which his practical father had hopes for the future. The need to further educate his son prompted the family to move.



Father opened a café at the corner of Dominikańska and Grodzka Street in Krakow, which became their source of income, while Tadeusz Makowski started his studies at St. Anne's Middle School in Krakow


entered the Faculty of Philosophy of the Jagiellonian University (contrary to his father's dreams, the humanistic middle school confirmed the boy's interest in literature and art)


He started parallel studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow with Józef Mehoffer and J. Stanislawski, continuing his university studies for 4 years, which resulted in an erudition that distinguished him from his peers. During his studies, Tadeusz Makowski took part in the preparation of performances for the literary cabaret "Zielony Balonik", he designs puppets for cribs.


graduated with a silver medal from the Academy of Fine Arts and went to Paris  


has made friends with La Fauconier and a group of cubists from Montparnasse


He exhibited cubist paintings in the Salon of Independents and started to keep a diary, the records of which testify to the serious, almost religious treatment of the painter's vocation and the incredible modesty of Tadeusz Makowski. He did not start a family, but friendship began to play an increasingly important role in his life



The outbreak of World War I meant that Tadeusz Makowski (a formal and legal Austrian immigrant) could not stay in Paris. Taking advantage of the invitation of his friend Władysław Ślewiński, he set off for Brittany
Shoemaker (1930), National Museum in Warsaw, Wikipedia
Tadeusz Makowski
Three children under a signpost (1930), Silesian Museum in Katowice, Wikipedia


he joined an international painting group with Marcel Gromair (1892-1971), Jules Pascin (1893-1930) and Pierre Krohg (1889-1965), among others


illustrated by "Pastorałki"Tytus Czyżewski


He painted "Return from school", where for the first time he took on child silhouettes in triangular hats, which are now the "hallmark" of his painting. This year saw the first individual exhibition of Tadeusz Makowski at the Berta Weill Gallery.

Tadeusz Makowski
Smokers of pipes (1931), National Museum in Wrocław, Wikipedia


his second exhibition at Berta Weill's was a success and determined his position in the environment

Tadeusz Makowski
Bridge on the Seine (ca. 1913), National Museum in Warsaw, Wikipedia


he started a series of paintings: "Shoemaker", "Shooter", "Fisherman"


On 1 November Tadeusz Makowski died of a stroke in the hospital of Hotel Dieu in Paris. The sudden and unexpected death of the painter at the age of 50, at the threshold of his career, was a shock to his friends. The impression of injustice, the disproportion between the real value of the work of the silent artist and the scant recognition and lack of publicity prevailed. The "Society of Friends of Tadeusz Makowski" was spontaneously formed, with M. Gromair and the critic L.L. Martin at the head. Its statutory goal was: "to do everything possible to give the audience an idea of Makowski's true face and the size of his work". The posthumous exhibition in the Salon of Independents (1933) and the exhibition at the 20th Venice Biennale (1936) brought about a success that the artist did not live to see. The war interrupted the association's activity, but the canvases, deposited in a Parisian furniture store, survived - in 1954 Tadeusz Makowski finally returned to Poland - with his paintings.

Interesting facts:

Guitar and violin

Guitar and Tadeusz Makowski often painted players and musical children. He was very musical himself, playing the guitar and violin.

Monastery cell

Loneliness, Spartan living conditions, lack of heating, did not prevent him from working hard. Friends found him once sick, covered with canvases of paintings. He painted constantly, as if in a fever, his studio was like a monastery cell - he devoted himself to painting, not paying attention to the quality of life.

The manuscript found in...

The painter's diary, kept from 1912 to 1931, remains the most valuable source of information about his life and art, as well as a fascinating reading, a testimony to a rare, insightful self-analysis of his own work. Even the artist's closest friends did not know about the existence of the Diary, and after his death the manuscript was considered lost. It was probably hidden in the collection of Maria Mickiewiczówna, the poet's granddaughter, who was friends with the painter. The manuscript was followed by Professor Władysław Jaworska, the most faithful researcher of Tadeusz Makowski's artistic legacy, in a Parisian antique shop in 1956. Today, the priceless manuscript is kept in the Library of the Institute of Art PAN in Warsaw.

Tadeusz Makowski
Children's Band (1922), National Museum in Warsaw, Wikipedia

About the art of Tadeusz Makowski:

Tadeusz Makowski's poetic and mysterious vision: the world of children, animals and wooden puppets performing strange rituals - surprises us with its "lyrical power" and at the same time with the rigour of composition and the courage of synthesis. His art lies between construction and emotion, between the rhythm of form and brightness of colours, between melancholy and intellect. Sentimentality is subjected here to the rigor of geometry and the grotesque illustrates the eternal drama of existence.

"Makowski reduces a man to lumps and figures, but leaves him his soul" 
Mieczysław Wallisphilosopher and art historian

„Pastorałki” Tytusa Czyżewskiego, wydane w styczniu 1925 przez Polskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Książki w Paryżu, uchodzą za arcydzieło polskiej typografii. Bibliofilską edycję 520 egzemplarzy, na czerpanym papierze, ozdobiono drzeworytami Tadeusza Makowskiego. Ilustracje te łączą prymitywny, kanciasty kontur z lirycznym wdziękiem, franciszkańską pobożność z poczuciem humoru. Są – jak wzorowane na góralskich kolędach wiersze Czyżewskiego – udanym mariażem ludowej tradycji z nowoczesnym poczuciem formy. Lekcja podhalańskiego folkloru spotkała się z lekcją kubizmu, owocując wspaniałym rezultatem.

"His art comes from Polish folklore. I remember him illustrating a book - it was extremely beautiful, something like a folk tale. Everything in his art was pure and sincere". 
Marcel GromaireFrench painter and graphic artist

Tadeusz Makowski's paintings were distinguished by their emotionality, sense of poetry, and the refinement of colour. Some people saw in it the qualities of indigenous Polish, Slavic heritage brought by the artist to the Paris school 

I have always had the impression that Makowski was one of the most outstanding colourists École de Paris” 

Florent Fels

"Shoemaker", or rather "Sabotage sculptor" - as the author himself poetically translated the title - is considered to be the most splendid and representative image of Tadeusz Makowski from the mature period of his career. His poem entitled "Kopytka", Tadeusz Różewicz (1921-2014) dedicated to the memory of Tadeusz Makowski, a painter who died in France: .s


Czyje to kopytka

Czyje to kopytka

komu szyje buty

na tych kopytkach

stary szewc

 na niebieskich aniołom

na złotych pszczołom

na czarnych kominiarzom

na czerwonych katom

 wrósł stołek

jak huba w dąb

pod stołkiem

ni to butelka ni aniołek

szyjką świeci

 pociągnie łyk

kopytka z miejsca ruszają

pociągnie drugi

kopytka do drzwi pukają

pociągnie trzeci

pełno tu ptaków i dzieci.

"Poets write poetry about Tadeusz Makowski's paintings. I am not surprised by this. Each of his paintings is like a poem, so much pure poetry, pure lyricism and emotion in it. 

Ignacy Witz
Tadeusz Makowski
14 July in the countryside (1928), National Museum in Warsaw, Wikipedia

"Children with Turon" is one of the most beautiful paintings by Tadeusz Makowski. This composition of triangles, circles, cones and cylinders contains an extraordinary load of poetry and lyricism. Maybe it is the climate of festive nostalgia and the mood of a silver-golden glow, or maybe the tenderness with which children embrace their toys - it makes the painting look with emotion. You can also see perfectly well how dry the colourist was Tadeusz Makowski. "Children with turon" is a true colour symphony: mysterious brass browns, golden beiges, flickering grays - they seem to shine with their own, inner light.

"His canvases live above all on the strange light that enlivens them, on the mysterious, ferocious light, which is a testimony to the wise technique, the precise workshop, the painter's hard-working reflections on all means and possibilities, on the eternal miracle of colour". 

Roger Brielle, French critic

Malarstwo Tadeusza Makowskiego za jego życia było bardzo słabo znane w Polsce. Szersze „odkrycie” artysty nastąpiło dopiero w 1960, dzięki wielkiej wystawie retrospektywnej zorganizowanej w Warszawie przez prof. Władysławę Jaworską. A jednak, wśród młodego pokolenia malarzy Tadeusz Makowski był darzony niezwykłym szacunkiem i jego płótna kształtują wyobraźnię wielu młodych. Szczególny wpływ wywiera na twórczość przyszłych członków Grupy Krakowskiej, zwłaszcza Tadeusza Brzozowskiego (1918-1987), którego wczesne obrazy przywołują podobny Makowskiemu groteskowy świat, w którym ekspresyjna stylizacja postaci łączy się z wyrafinowaną kolorystyką.

 "You have to paint and carry out without worrying about the rest. In painting it is like anywhere else: it has to put its whole soul into it, and what they say is not important".s 

Tadeusz Makowski

Tadeusz Makowski in Museums:

Tadeusz Makowski
Smokers of pipes (1931), National Museum in Wrocław, Wikipedia
galeria marzeń

Krakow: National Museum. You can admire there, among others..:

  • „Autoportret z paletą i ptaszkiem” namalowany w 1919
  • „W pracowni” namalowany w 1929
  • „Dwaj mali przyjaciele” namalowany w 1929
  • „Seans muzyczny” namalowany w 1930
  • „Odlot jaskółek” namalowany w 1931
galeria marzeń

Warsaw: National Museum. You can admire there, among others..:

  • Portret Zygmunta Lubicz-Zaleskiego” namalowany w 1913
  • „Pejzaż z domami” namalowany w 1913
  • „Kosz z owocami” namalowany w 1913
  • „Zagroda w Keranquernat” namalowany w 1917
  • „Vita brevis, ars longa” namalowany w 1918
  • „Zima” namalowany w 1918
  • „Martwa natura z zielona misą i owocami” namalowany w 1918
  • „Kapela dziecięca” namalowany w 1922
  • „Dziewczynka w białym kapeluszu” namalowany w 1923
  • „Pejzaż bretoński ze studnią” namalowany w 1923
  • „Powrót ze szkoły” namalowany w 1927
  • „Wiejskie podwórko” namalowany w 1928
  • „Czworo dzieci z trąbą” namalowany w 1929
  • „Dziecinne ZOO” namalowany w 1929
  • „Jazz” namalowany w 1929
  • „Kobziarze” namalowany w 1929
  • „Dzieci z turoniem” namalowany w 1929
  • „Szewc” namalowany w 1930
  • „Rybak” namalowany w 1930
  • „Kąpiel” namalowany w 1930
  • „Mali Pierroci” namalowany w 1930
  • „Na plaży” namalowany w 1930
  • „Seans muzyczny” namalowany w 1930
  • „Portret męski z fajkami” namalowany w 1930
  • „Szermierze” namalowany w 1931
  • „Teatr dziecięcy” namalowany w 1931
  • „Dwoje dzieci z psem” namalowany w 1932
  • „Skąpiec” namalowany w 1932


galeria marzeń


  • Paryż: Musée d’art. Moderne de la Ville de Paris – Musée National d’Art Moderne, Biblioteka Paryska
Jerzy Nowosielski

Czech Republic:

  • Praga: Pamatnik Narodniho Pismnictvi
Jerzy Nowosielski

The Netherlands:

  • Haga: Muzeum Miejskie
Jacek Malczewski


  • Nowy Jork: Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences
galeria marzeń

Katowice: Silesian Museum. You can admire there, among others..:

  • „Martwa natura z melonami” namalowany w 1928
galeria marzeń

Poznań: National Museum. You can admire there, among others..:

  • „Maskarada” namalowany w 1928
  • „Chłopczyk na łóżku” namalowany w 1930
  • „W oberży” namalowany w 1931
Shoemaker (1930), National Museum in Warsaw, Wikipedia
galeria marzeń

Other Polish cities:

  • Bochnia: Muzeum im. Prof. Stanisława Fischera
  • Białystok: Muzeum Okręgowe
  • Bytom: Muzeum Górnośląskie
  • Bydgoszcz: Muzeum Okręgowe im. Leona Wyczółkowskiego
  • Lublin: Muzeum Lubelskie
  • Łódź: Muzeum Sztuki
  • Szczecin: Muzeum Narodowe
  • Wrocław: Muzeum Narodowe


Tadeusz Makowski
Masquerade (1928), National Museum in Poznań, Wikipedias

Tadeusz Makowski (1882-1932)

  • ILLUSTRATOR 100% 100%
Tadeusz Makowski
Three children under a signpost (1930), Silesian Museum in Katowice, Wikipedia