Andrzej Wróblewski

Liquidation of the Ghetto/Blue Chauffeur

Wróblewski Blue Chauffeur Private Collection 1500
  • Andrzej Wróblewski
  • Liquidation of the Ghetto/Blue Chauffeur
  • 1948
  • Oil on canvas
  • 89 x 120 cm
  • Private Collection. By Courtesy of Andrzej Wróblewski Foundation

Blue Chauffeur / Liquidation of the Ghetto (1948) and Execution with Gestapo Man (1949) exemplify the highly individual, painterly idiom that Andrzej Wróblewski developed after World War II. Wróblewski initially supported the Communists in Poland, embracing  many of the tenets of socialist realism. Though he had explored abstraction early in his career, he ultimately renounced it after the Communists took power over Poland in 1948, often painting new compositions on the reverse of earlier works. His double-sided canvases, such as Blue Chauffeur / Liquidation of the Ghetto, reflect the complexities and contradictions of the period, with hope for the future tempered by the devastation of the recent past. One side depicts the back of a lone driver on an empty road, a recurring motif that evokes a sense of overwhelming isolation and suggests the possibility of social progress. While the painting on the reverse portrays a more typically realist subject, a scene from the war, the style reflects Wróblewski’s own interpretation of that aesthetic. Here, he emphasized the brutality of the event through figural distortions and used a monochrome blue palette to symbolize death.

Rachel Wetzler

Biography of Andrzej Wróblewski

  • Born 1927 in Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Died 1957 in Tatra Mountains, Poland

Andrzej Wróblewski, who developed an individual approach to realist painting, became one of Poland’s foremost postwar artists. After World War II he moved to Krakow, where he studied art history at the Uniwersytet Jagielloński (Jagiellonian University) (1945–48) and trained at the Akademia Sztuk Pięknych (Academy of Fine Arts) (1945–52). Even as a student he began to rebel against the predominant Kapist style (colorism) that was promoted in Polish academic circles. Searching for a unique and personal style, free from ideology, he inaugurated a Self-Teaching Art School at the Akademia Sztuk Pięknych w Krakowie (Krakow Academy of Fine Arts) in 1948. His work in oil paint and gouache featured elements of Surrealism and abstraction, including geometric and stylized forms. In the late 1940s he devoted himself to his “Executions” series, depicting scenes of wartime atrocities during the German occupation of Poland. Also during that time, as a critic and theoretician, he published nearly eighty articles on art and literature. He often painted on both sides of the canvas, thus creating challenging, often contradictory combinations of recto and verso. In the early 1950s he briefly adopted the social realist style, and from 1955 onward he focused on the family as his subject. He died in a mountaineering accident at age twenty-nine.