Point of View. Japanese Signature. Polish Signature

Łukasz Kossowski, Ph.D.
(Museum of Literature, Warsaw; Polish Institute of World Art Studies)

The Japanese word jikihitsu 直筆 in the title of this session has been understood as a the signature of the artist. However, in European art inspired by the art of Japan the semantic scope of this notion can be very broad. The word can be understood both as a signature of the creator confirming the authorship of an oeuvre, a compositional and semantic element of an artwork inscribed in its framework and a signature which is identical as the actual artwork, confirming its artistic and ideological message – and wider – the artistic attitude of the creator. In an effort to stress the fundamental role of Japonism as the power constituting Polish art, we will treat it as a strong cultural signature, which marked the entire European art of the 19th and 20th century, and especially Polish art.


A curator at the Art Department of Warsaw’s Museum of Literature, a grant holder of The British Council and The Lancokoroński Foundation. Moreover, he has served as the advisor to the American Center for Polish Culture in Washington D.C. His academic fascinations cover the art of the turn of the 20th century, symbolism, as well as relations between art and totalitarian regimes. With his 1978 MA thesis titled “Japanese Art Inspirations in Paintings and Prints of Polish Modernists” at the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL), he launched the research into Polish Japonism. Having organized the pioneer exhibition on Polish-Japanese relations (Kielce–Cracow, 1981), he was awarded the Father Szczęsny Dettloff Memorial Prize. Co-author of the “Poland–Japan, 1919–1999” Exhibition (Hillside Forum, Tokyo; Amenity Park, Osaka; Museum of Literature, Warsaw; Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology, Cracow; 2000), he crowned his studies in Polish Japonism with the book „Wielka Fala. Inspiracje sztuką Japonii w polskim malarstwie i grafice” [“Big Wave. Japanese Art. Inspirations in Polish Painting and Prints”] (Polski Instytut Badań nad Sztuką Świata, 2016).