The sculpture of Mały Powstaniec by Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz can be seen at the exhibition “Varsaviana” in the DESY Unicum salon in Warsaw. The original of one of the most recognizable Polish monuments will be auctioned on September 6.
The Monument of the “Little Insurgent”, showing a nearly 1.5-meter-long figure of a boy of a dozen in a helmet too large, shirt which is too large, with large boots and a rifle over his shoulder, stood in defensive wall in Podwale in Warsaw in 1983. This is the most popular work in the achievements of the outstanding Polish artist Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz.
– Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz created the “Little Uprising” while he was still studying in 1946. It was a small figurine of plaster painted on a metal frame. The sculpture was created for the contest of the Ministry of Culture, which wanted to commemorate the Warsaw Uprising. In 1946, the authorities saw the importance of this uprising – recalls professor Waldemar Baraniewski, art historian from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts and the main curator of Jarnuszkiewicz’s exhibition “Notes from space” in Zachęta.
– It was a small sculpture, which was not planned as a monument. When you look at this figure, you can see that the boy is dressed in too big leopard, too big shoes, too big helmet. We are dealing here with a vanitas – transitory character, illustrated in culture for ages, often a figure of a skull-putt child. The sculptor, colliding the child’s innocence with the attributes of death, has taken up this topic in a very modern way – emphasizes Professor Baraniewski.
As a monument to “Mały Powstaniec” he stood in the Warsaw Old Town on October 1, 1983 – during the celebrations of the 15th anniversary of the awarding of the Warsaw Battalion of the Heroes of Warsaw to ZHP. He was inscribed with the inscription “Warsaw children, we will go into battle, for every stone, Stolico, we will give blood”.
An unpleasant event
Placing the monument was connected with an episode unpleasant for Jarnuszkiewicz, which was recalled at the exhibition “Notes from space” in Zachęta (27.01 – 17.04.2017). After the competition, the figurine began to replicate on a massive scale one of the foundry factories, virtually everyone could buy it as a souvenir. Jarnuszkiewicz did not protest, considering that in this way he fulfills his function, commemorating the heroic uprising. When Polish groups began coming to Poland during Gierek’s time and the figure grew in demand, the owner of the foundry plant Władysław Miecznik started to distribute the figurine as a work of a certain Jan Maleta. Then Jarnuszkiewicz reacted, which ended in court. In the end, the artist won the trial, but he suffered a heart attack and a health collapse. One of the effects of the process was the decision.
Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz’s “Little Insurgent” knows almost every Pole, but hardly anyone knows that the sculpture at the Warsaw Barbican is not the original. The original – the prototype of the monument – can be viewed at our exhibition “Varsaviana”, and on September 6 will be on the auction – said Karolina Łuzniak-Marchlewska from DESA Unicum Auction House.
“Varsaviana” is an exhibition and auction organized as a tribute to the capital, showing the city as a metropolis developing dynamically throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. – The exhibition of 215 works shows the history of Warsaw, which no longer exists; it is recalled through works of art such as, among others, three canvases by Edward Dwurnik, one of the most original contemporary artists, continuing his legendary series + Warsaw +. This series played an extraordinary role in the 1980s. In January 1981, the artist brought to his previously created winter landscapes of the city a fantastic staffage in the form of tanks, barbed wire entanglements, crosses in the streets and crowds. In December of the same year, after the introduction of martial law, the paintings were regarded as prophetic visions of the artist, and Dwurnik received for them in 1983 the “Solidarity” Cultural Award.