Andzej Szczerski (The Jagiellonian University), ‘Zakopane style and its internationalist agenda’

‘Zakopane style’ was the name adopted by Stanisław Witkiewicz to define his idea of Polish national style, developed around 1900. The style was to be based on the vernacular architecture and ornamentation from the region near Zakopane, a village in Tatra mountains, south of Krakow (hence the name). Despite the emphasis on the Polishness of the style Witkiewicz hoped it would be adopted in the lands of former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, divided at the end of 18th century between Austria, Prussia and Russia. Hence his argument about the transnational character of ornamentation and wooden construction techniques to be found in the Zakopane region. Witkiewicz’ idea found ardent if few supporters in Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine, especially among the Polish gentry and middle classes. Therefore buildings or interiors in Zakopane style were built as far from the Tatra mountains as Kiev, Minsk or the Lithuanian Baltic coast. Together with the artistic concept of the style, Witkiewicz elaborated also its political agenda, as he acknowledged the rise of independent Lithuania and Ukraine and called for their future union with Poland. The shared fate and cultural affinities of those countires were to be symbolized by Zakopane style.

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