Polish/British, 1906-1988

Caziel attended the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, 1931-36, where the influence of French Post-Impressionist painting was omnipresent. Revered masters amongst the students and significant influences on Caziel’s early development as a painter included Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse. Many works of this period show a clear Cézannesque approach in technique and colouring, whereas his Fauve designs for the ballet are in the spirit of ‘La Danse’, painted by Matisse in 1910. In many works dating the Polish period, Caziel united the Post-Impressionist vocabulary with imagery and stylistic elements borrowed from Polish folklore.

 

Caziel’s aspiration to emigrate to Paris finally came true in 1937 when he received a bursary. In 1939 Edouard Vuillard intervened with the Polish authorities to grant Caziel permission to stay in Paris.

 

When in 1939 Germany declared war, Caziel voluntarily joined the Polish army in France. The 1940 Franco-German Armistice, however, forced the Polish army to disband and pushed Caziel to flee with his Jewish wife, the painter Lutka Pink. Blaise Cendrars welcomed them in Aix-en-Provence, where they stayed on and off until the autumn of 1946. It was here that Caziel had the opportunity to study the work of Cézanne in depth. As a tribute to the great modern master, Caziel painted a series of nudes, shaped by strong contour lines, placed in unusual compositions of depth and perspective and painted with simple colours. He also followed Cézanne in making the Mont Sainte Victoire his subject for a series of small oils.

 

During his time in Aix, Caziel met Le Corbusier with whom he exchanged ideas about the integration of painting and architecture. Caziel’s instinctive feeling for proportion had already earned him several prestigious commissions for frescoes back in Poland and, upon his return from Aix to Paris in 1946, he was commissioned the design of the Polish pavilion for the UNESCO International Exhibition of Modern Art.

 

Despite appealing offers of important teaching posts from the Polish government, Caziel remained in Paris to protect Lutka from having to return to the country where all her relatives had been murdered in Auschwitz. Life in post-war Paris was hard but Caziel was stimulated by a search for a new form of pictorial space and worked profusely.

 

During his search for a different dimension, resulting in paintings where line and colour do not flatten the picture plane but projects it in front of it instead, Caziel’s career gathered momentum. His first one-man show at the Galerie Allard in 1947 was followed by an invitation to join Picasso, Hans Hartung, Victor Vasarely, Alfred Manessier and others to exhibit at the prestigious ‘Salon de mai’.

 

Throughout his five-year close friendship with Picasso, 1947-1951, Caziel’s stylistic preoccupations were divided. Strong lyrical and expressive compositions much indebted to Picasso alternate with works revealing his quest for Abstraction.

 

In 1951, Caziel more or less gave up figuration and joined the ‘Groupe Espace’, whose program of uniting Constructivist art with architecture, promoted the creation of a new environment appropriate to the new society of the modern age. The legendary art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler invited Caziel to join his stable of figurative artists headed by Picasso, assuming that Caziel’s abstract work was an experiment. Caziel however declined the offer and remained an Abstractionist for the rest of his life.

 

By 1952, Lutka had left for the United States and Caziel fell madly in love with the young Scottish painter Catherine Sinclair, with whom he started a new life in Ponthévrard just outside of Paris. They married in 1957 and a year later their daughter Clementina was born. 

 

During his years in Paris, Caziel was at the heart of the developments of the ‘Ecole de Paris’. His move to Ponthévrard did not mean the end but the beginning of a new chapter in his life-long drive to follow his path of excellence. His paintings evolved into rigorous geometrical patterns, anticipating his pure abstract works of the 1960s. These abstract works were regularly exhibited in London at the Grabowski Gallery. Caziel and Catherine finally moved to Britain in 1969 and Caziel was naturalised British in 1975.

 

A major retrospective of his work was hosted by the National Museum in Warsaw in 1998.

 

Whitford Fine Art has represented the Caziel Estate since 1994, and started their commitment to Caziel with a substantial retrospective exhibition in 1995. 

 

Public collections include

Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris

National Museum, Warsaw

Vatican Museum, Rome.

 

Bibliography

MONKIEWICZ, Dorota. Caziel 1906-1988, Catalogue Raisonné. National Museum, Warsaw, 1998.

PERRY, Jenny. The Grand Play of Light. The Art & Life of Caziel. London, 1997.

Caziel, exhibition catalogue Grabowski Gallery, London, 1968.

Caziel, exhibition catalogue Grabowski Gallery, London, 1966.

MADDOX, Conroy, ‘Caziel’Arts Review, 14 May 1966.

 

Solo Exhibitions

2017, Caziel: Abstraction Explored, Works from the Fifities, Whitford Fine Art, London

2014, Caziel: Espace - Abstraction, Francis Maere Fine Arts, Ghent, Belgium

2014, Caziel: Forever Yours, Whitford Fine Art, London

2010, Caziel: Drawings and Watercolours 1935 - 1952, The Paris Years, Whitford Fine Art, London

2008, Caziel: ‘Je suis abstrait’ - Works from the Fifties, Whitford Fine Art, London

2006, Centenary Retrospective Exhibition, Whitford Fine Art, London

2004, Caziel: Abstraction 1963 - 1967, Whitford Fine Art, London. Retrospective Exhibition, Embassy of the Republic of Poland, London

2001, Contour and Line: Selection of Works on Paper from 1965 by Caziel,  Whitford Fine Art, London

1998, Retrospective Exhibition, National Museum, Warsaw

1997, Caziel: Drawings from the Forties, Whitford Fine Art, London; Caziel: Works from the Fifties, Whitford Fine Art, London

1995, Caziel: Substance and Light, Whitford Fine Art, London

1992, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol

1991, Butlin Gallery, Dillington House College, Ilminster, Somerset

1990, Memorial Exhibition at the Polish Cultural Institute, London

1978, National Museum, Warsaw

1968, Grabowski Gallery, London

1966, Grabowski Gallery, London

1947, Galerie Allard, Paris

 

Group Exhibitions

2017, A Century of Polish Artists in Britain, Ben Uri Gallery, London.

1983, Summer Exhibition at Fair Maids House Gallery, Perth

1966-68, Royal Academy of Arts, London

1948-56, Salon de Mai in Paris

1932, Loza Wolnomalarska (Lodge of Free Painters)