Sir Barken Hyena writes:
Cultural memory is a roulette wheel, and there’s no telling who will survive to be one of the “deathless greats”. Some come and go, as Shakespeare has, and some never get a shot at the big time. In the latter category, prominent is Polish sculptor Stanislav Szukalski.
Despite his obvious genius, it’s not hard to understand why. A deeply irascible man, he seems to have had a gift for pissing off everyone he ever met, within minutes. Pair this with his iconoclastic and politically untenable self-developed mythology of Zermatism and it’s clear he was destined for the memory hole.
But, since he’s dead now and can’t further alienate anyone, and since the tenets of high modernism have been revealed as garbage, it might just be his time to ride high.
From his Wikipedia article:
Zermatism, Szukalski’s concept of world history, postulated that all human culture derived from post-deluge Easter Island and that in all human languages one can find traces of the original, ancient mother-tongue of mankind. In his view, humanity was locked in an eternal struggle with the Sons of Yeti (“Yetinsyny”), the offspring of Yeti and humans, who had enslaved humanity from time immemorial. He claimed that the figures of the god Pan on Greek vases depict creatures that actually existed, the product of Yeti apes raping human women.
Equally anti-fascist, anti-communist, anti-capitalist and anti-catholic, he never had a prayer. And so he was too penniless to actually build his visions, at least on the scale he envisioned, so mostly his surviving works are drawings of proposed sculptures, or small renditions of them. What we see is a stunningly original conception, though fully grounded in early 20th century modernism.
Szukalski had some early success, having a museum dedicated to him in Poland, but it was destroyed and his work stolen in WW II. He spent the rest of his life living in obscurity in Los Angeles, until his death in 1989.
Oh the ones that got away!