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The forgotten master. The work by Józef Hecht (1891-1951)


The forgotten master. The work by Józef Hecht (1891-1951)

On 26 September 2023, at 6 pm, you are invited to the opening of the exhibition entitled. “Forgotten Master. The work by Józef Hecht (1891-1951)”, which will be held at the Art & Modern Foundation in Warsaw, at 8 Jaracza St. The exhibition will run from 26 September to 30 November 2023. During the opening of the exhibition, a promotion of the graphic album “Józef Hecht. Noah's Ark/Atlas'.

Why has Józef Hecht been forgotten?

Born in Łódź, the son of a Jewish textile merchant, educated at Kraków's Academy of Fine Arts and speaking several European languages, Józef Hecht was a painter who revived copperplate – one of the oldest and most demanding printmaking techniques – in modern form. After the turmoil of the First World War, which he survived in Scandinavia, he joined the artistic fervour of the Parisian Montparnasse of the 1920s, where he gained recognition as an outstanding printmaker – a virtuoso of the stylus.

Hecht was instrumental in founding, together with his friend and pupil, the Briton Stanley William Hayter, the famous Atelier 17, active in Paris (1927-1939) and New York (1940-1955). Artists who worked and experimented there included Max Ernst, Óscar Dominiquez, Yves Tanguy, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró, Louise Bourgeois, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol and many others. The artist revolved in the international circle of the École de Paris and maintained contacts and friendships with the most prominent visual and literary artists of his era. However, he remained focused on his own vision and artistic path. His works dazzle with a fresh outlook, individual style, sophistication, and erudition in his workshop-perfect graphics, the vibrancy of nature and colour in painting, and subtlety and elegance in sculpture. He was an accomplished animalist and painted and engraved numerous landscapes, city views, still lives and, less frequently, portraits and symbolic scenes.


→ More information and artist biography

Józef Hecht, Pejzaż norweski (Skaugumsasen), ok. 1918. Fot. Archiwum FA&M


His works, (...) will remain simultaneously in and out of history, gaining in strangeness and originality over the years. (...) Hecht's art will always have friends.

Pierre Descargues



One reason for Hecht's absence from Polish art history is his distinctiveness, another - rooting his work in many cultures. Raised in Judaism, he maintained contacts with artists with Jewish roots for part of his life, including the Łódź-based Jung Idysz art group. In turn, his time spent in Norway during the First World War resulted in friendships with the local intellectual elite and a love of the northern European landscape. Both of the artist's wives came from Sweden, and his son was born and raised in France. Living in the Montparnasse district and teaching printmaking at Atelier 17 provided Hecht with daily contact with artists from all over the world. Although he took French citizenship in 1929, he felt Polish to the end of his life. This is borne out by the words of his friend from the Second World War, which the artist survived in the south of France, and by the critics of the time remembering him after his sudden death in 1951. His legacy remains to this day scattered outside his native country.



The fabulous colour combinations in the oil landscapes with animals place Hecht's painting in the Dionysian element. In printmaking, on the other hand, the artist remained in the Apollonian sphere, making with his stylus precise furrows and scratches of the plate with a controlled course, translating into clean, refined and elegant black lines that enliven the bright sheets of paper.

Prof. Katarzyna Kulpińska

Józef Hecht, Le fort de Collioure, 1920 - 1923 r. Fot. Archiwum FA&M


The Forgotten Master exhibition will present a selection of Hecht's best works – oil paintings, prints, and sculptures – depicting landscapes of the North and South of Europe and unusual images of animals. The aim of the exhibition is to remind the public of this outstanding artist and his work in Poland, as well as to announce larger, problematised exhibitions already planned for the coming years.

Curator of the exhibition: Prof. Katarzyna Kulpińska
Project manager: Magdalena Furmanik-Kowalska, PhD


The exhibition is complemented by:


Józef Hecht. Arka Noego/Atlas - graphic album.

Reprint of two of Hecht's earliest graphic volumes produced in copperplate and originally published in Paris: Noah's Ark (1926) and Atlas (1928). The publication also contains an essay by Katarzyna Kulpinska on Hecht's graphic work and extended commentaries on each of the graphic plates. The album is a collector's edition, printed with special care on high-quality Arctic Munken Pure Rough paper.

The album is co-edited by the National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad “Polonika”.



Catalogue Józef Hecht (1891–1951)

The publication is the first monographic study of Józef Hecht's work published in Poland. It
contains extensive texts by art historians on all disciplines practised by the artist, from printmaking to painting to sculpture, as well as his teaching activities. The articles point to the artist's significant place in world art, his circle of inspiration and his influence on subsequent generations of artists, and include an updated calendar of the artist's life and work, thanks to the foundation's research. The authors of the texts are Katarzyna Kulpińska, Aneta Pawłowska, Irmina Gadowska oraz Christina Weyl.


Educational activities

As part of the project 'Master of Masters. Exhibition and catalogue of the works of Józef Hecht (1891-1951)', art workshops together with guided tours will be held, dedicated to Warsaw seniors, carried out in cooperation with the OKO Art Magazine. For the youngest visitors, a booklet Józef Hecht (1891-1951) – animal lover, artist, emigrant – has been prepared in cooperation with the National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad “Polonika”, in which they will not only trace the artist's journey across Europe but also learn about artistic techniques and delve into the world created by the artist thanks to tasks prepared especially for them.



The forgotten master. The work by Józef Hecht (1891-1951)
26 September – 30 November 2023
Art & Modern Foundation, Warszawa, ul. Jaracza 8

Open hours:
Tuesday 12 am - 7 pm
Wednesday - Friday 10 am - 4 pm


Exhibition opening: 26 September, 6 pm
with the promotion of an album containing the graphic portfolios Noah's Ark and Atlas


Honorary patronage: Muzeum POLIN

Co-organisers of the event:
Narodowy Instytut Polskiego Dziedzictwa Kulturowego za Granicą „Polonika”, Wejman Gallery

Partner PZU Foundation.

Project partners:
Uniwersytet Łódzki, Muzeum Miasta Łodzi, Łódzkie Towarzystwo Naukowe, Musée du Dessin et de l'Estampe Originale w Gravelines, Dolan/Maxwell Gallery, Polski Instytut Studiów nad Sztuką Świata

Media patronage: TOK FM, Damosfera, ArtPost, Linia Prosta, DesignDoc, Rynek i Sztuka.

The event is realised as part of the project 'Master of Masters. Exhibition and catalogue of the works of Józef Hecht (1891-1951)' and 'Józef Hecht – outstanding creator of modernist graphic art. Noah's Ark and Atlas portfolios'.


Opening the exhibition 'Forgotten master. Józef Hecht'
Opening the exhibition 'Forgotten master. Józef Hecht'
Opening the exhibition 'Forgotten master. Józef Hecht'
Opening the exhibition 'Forgotten master. Józef Hecht'
Dorota Janiszewska-Jakubiak (Polonika) i Krzysztof Wejman (Wejman Gallery) - coorganiser
Opening the exhibition 'Forgotten master. Józef Hecht'
Opening the exhibition 'Forgotten master. Józef Hecht'
Opening the exhibition 'Forgotten master. Józef Hecht'
Opening the exhibition 'Forgotten master. Józef Hecht'
Opening the exhibition 'Forgotten master. Józef Hecht'
Prof. Katarzyna Kulpińska and dr. Magdalena Furmanik-Kowalska
Opening the exhibition 'Forgotten master. Józef Hecht'
Opening the exhibition 'Forgotten master. Józef Hecht' 501

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