Bronislaw Wojciech Linke

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Bronislaw Wojciech Linke (1906-1962). As he’s from Eastern Europe I don’t find any biographical information on him readily available. That’s to be understood. Since he doesn’t fit the American definition of Art (followed by the rest of the world) he never existed. As King George Bush the First helpfully explained, “What we say goes.” Instead of having galleries with work the quality of Linke’s we’re requested to stand in awe before a mound of colored pigment poured onto the floor or spin-art paintings. Linke’s work can be distinguished from the vast sea of emptiness in the art world by the fact that it actually says something.

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Most of the painting titles are in Polish but the one above is translated as “Sea of Blood” (1952). This guy is one hell of a painter.

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Apologies that I can only find hard to read images. It’s just great that I can find tens of thousands of perfectly reproduced works by genius painters Johns and Schnabel and Keith Haring. But a hack painter like Linke? It’s a wonder I’m able to find anything at all. I can’t read anything about him, either, as I don’t read Polish.

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The drawing above is from 1950 and titled Wall Street. A wonderfully succinct depiction of where we are now drawn over half a century ago by a European artist. We also have Wall Street to thank for the sublime works that currently constitute the world of high art. The drawing calls to mind the lyrics from Pretty Boy Floyd by Woody Guthrie “Some will rob you with a six-gun/And some with fountain pen.”






linke 2The biggest problem with Linke’s work, and why it’s been condemned to obscurity, is that it’s depressing. And it’s true. It’s not optimistic. It’s not a “bright and shining lie”, as Neil Sheehan titled his book on the Vietnam War. It’s not part of the bright and shining lie of the contemporary art world. Hats off to Bronislaw Linke.


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13 Responses to Bronislaw Wojciech Linke

  1. A. E. says:

    That is really incredible. How were you made aware of this artist, in the first place? Are there any books out on the artist and the works? I agree with you on the state of ‘what is to be considered’ art in this world- pathetic, and it mirrors the rest of society, pretty well.

    • trueoutsider says:

      A friend sent me a link to Linke. If you google Linke’s name you can find some slight information in English. Most of the material is in Polish. The Amazon search turns up a single catalogue and few other books that are currently unavailable.

      It has to be noted that the complete neglect of an artist of Linke’s stature and achievement has been stage managed by the US. In the 1950s artists who worked in social realist modes, Surrealist modes, political modes, narrative modes, and even to a large extent artists doing figurative work were made illegitimate as “serious” artists through the efforts of Clement Greenberg. It also needs to taken into account that Greenberg was backed by the New York institutional apparatus of the Museum of Modern Art. Money was also provided by the State Department and the CIA to support Abstract Expressionist painting as the “free world” alternative to Communism.

      Greenberg’s successors took it from there, accepting (and building out from) the tautology of Greenberg’s moronic claim that artists like Pollock and Rothko were the culmination of Western Painting. The Western painting tradition going back to Giotto were no longer “relevant”. The only relevant painting was being done in New York City, the rest of America being a provincial backwater and artists painting in outmoded figurative fashion nothing but hicks. A few years later Greenberg had his power stripped from him as Pop Art ascended, deriding the “seriousness” of Abstraction. (A laugh in and of itself). Early investors in Pop Art became fabulously wealthy and the rest of Wall Street saw what was happening, got on board, and during the Reagan Wall Street boom of the early 80s nouveau riche morons bought whatever half-witted shite appealed to their degenerate “taste”…. Now we have the total entertainment art world that isn’t just a mirror of society. It is society. The art world is no different from the celebrity/fashion/entertainment world.

      Perhaps one day an honest art historian will come along and write the real history of Art from the 1950s onward. To see just what a fraud the entire thing is one only has to pick up any illustrated History of Art and note the contrast between the rubbish heap of American Art and the art that preceded it…. or perhaps just google Tom Wesselman images and compare his work to Linke’s work. You’ve used the right adjective: pathetic.

      • A. E. says:

        Well, it seems most people don’t give a crap about the increasing authoritarian and commercial society we live in, and the constant warfare, let alone appreciate real art. And, you mention George Bush earlier- who did disastrous things that have helped create the current atmosphere now- but I sure wish all those who justly criticized Bush would start holding Obama accountable; I understand the President- and I guess unquestioning drones- wonders whether he needs to even bother discussing military matters with congress and getting their approval- congress who is supposed to sign off on declarations of war, etc. Seems like we have a real problem here, and I’m getting fed up that people are allowing this garbage to happen- the types of arrogant and dictatorial things Bush did. I know this blog is about art, but you have notably mentioned the social and political ills that are rampant in society, and these things are affecting our lives in detrimental and myriad ways! As far as the artist, that is a shame, he has been a victim of the political and cultural dog and pony show- that is more than regrettable.

  2. Raye Mayo says:

    I enjoyed this piece very much. Thanks for introducing a new artist into my life. One thing, though, regarding a lack of biographical information: My Mom said that we cannot do genealogy on her side of the family, because the communists destroyed all church records. Could that be true here, as well?

  3. trueoutsider says:

    Hi Raye. I don’t know anything about the Commies destroying Polish Church records, I’m afraid. I’d have to look into it. Poland endured a terrible fate after being first invaded by the Germans, then taken over by the Soviets. There’s a Wiki entry for Linke that’s written in Polish. His birth and death are recorded (1906-1962). Also a nice picture of his gravestone. I read in one place that he’d large stopped painting because the way in which he painted was outmoded. But I just have no hard facts or research about him and so whatever I write would be speculative. I should try posting more Eastern European painting because Linke is hardly the only artist whose work has been entirely overlooked and neglected for the reasons that I wrote above in response to A.E.

  4. trueoutsider says:

    By and large, Americans have no idea what is happening. That’s the primary reason I see very little hope for the country. We’re being completely misled by a corporate owned political class, empowered by completely ignorant voters. Both Bush and Obama have been engaged in violations of the Geneva Conventions, i.e., war crimes. We’ve supported Israel’s war crimes and now they’re following up those crimes by stealing more Palestinian land, to the feeble objections of the US and UK. We’ve cried Havoc! and set loose the dogs of war with delusional arrogance and are reaping what we’ve sown.

    Bush was hardly alone in his arrogance. He was supported by the vast majority of the American people and the entirety of the press, including the so-called liberal press. New Yorker, New York Times, Washington Post, etc. I don’t think it plausible to lay all of this off on Bush and/or Obama. We live in a free country with free elections. We’ve had real anti-war candidates and they’re routinely marginalized and derided.

    I also don’t see artists as victims. The artists are willing participants in the corrupt circus of an art world. Nobody’s forcing them to make their schlock art. We live in a country of vast resources and natural bounty and what do we do with it? Pollute and rape its resources. And for what? To speed around hither and thither in our SUVs and Monster Trucks. Road Warrior madness everywhere I look.

    Shoot up everything in sight. Scaring ourselves and everyone else half to death. Polluting our bodies with junk foods and psycho-pharmaceuticals? Polluting our minds with internet and TV drivel? And we’re going to blame someone else for our problems?

    Jimmy Carter suggested we turn down the thermostat, install solar panels and live within our means and the limited nonrenewable energy resources of the planet. …But we threw him out. Ronnie tears down the solar panels and assures us “Live it UP! Who gives a shit about the rest of the world or the generations who will have to live in this country after we’re gone? Do whatever the hell you want. Grab all the money you can grab. That’s what America is all about!” So here we are. Nobody to blame but ourselves.

    When Reagan came into office we were the worlds biggest creditor nation. When he left office we were the world’s biggest debtor nation. We’re beyond bankrupt at this point, having trouble just paying the interest on our debt. That’s my limited understanding of it, not being an economist. I’m not a financial genius like the great economic advisers surrounding Obama whose policies led to the global financial collapse in 2008 that destroyed the values of peoples homes, pension funds, stock holdings. When Reagan came into office a college education in California was free. Now it’s a small fortune. A degree at Cal Arts will run you upwards of 125 grand. A degree from Cal Arts doesn’t guarantee you a job as a barista at Starbucks. The free market is a great thing, isn’t it? It’s really working just great. As far as I can tell, Americans are wholeheartedly in favor of it.

    Although, some are certainly losing faith. You can see them everywhere you look around here holding signs asking for spare change.

    • A. E. says:

      I agree w ith much of what you said.

      I don’t care what the ‘ideology’ is. if it’s oppressive then it’s oppressive. What has been called a free market really isn’t free. I am opposed to collectivism, though; there is a kind of ‘collectivism where I live- called Mormonism; funny, these people would say they are about capitalism and conservativism, yet they have some very communistic behavior; I should not be surprised- this whole country is a load of hypocrisy– so-called liberals, who are basically fascists, being among them.

      This whole world is opposed to the true individual and is eternally oppressive. I do believe there are those in power who watch and know what is going on, and do know of a plan, and as long as they are fine, they could use whatever political agenda suits them; there have been those wanting a New World Order for a long time, and perhaps these actions in the mid/ near-east over the last few years, and much more, are purposeful and part of a plan; there is a term that sometimes gets overused- Order out of Chaos- which is a kind of esoteric and alchemical dictum. Perhaps you know the saying?

      Whatever is happening, there are those with the money and power, and there are the increasingly more who are just surviving, and many don’t seem to care. We have a situation here that is more depressing than any time I have known. I am an artist, myself.

      • trueoutsider says:

        AE (for Abstract Expressionist?)

        What we’re seeing is a New World Disorder. Nobody’s remotely directing what is going on in the world. The people in positions of power are by and large in various states of mental illness and psychopathy. Their flunkies carry out the orders and are rewarded by being able to bask in their master’s glory. …. along with substantial cash payments. Yes, the banking cabal, art cabal, Mormon cabal, and so on are quite real. It’s just that there isn’t any kind of master group directing and controlling the entire planet. Capitalism run amok, with no order to it whatsoever. Chaos

        Stanley Kubrick did a documentary about our governing elite and military… It’s called Dr. Strangelove. Or watch Costa-Gavras’ latest film Capital. Or Margin Call. It’s an ever-more destabilized system spinning wildly out of control.

        But I don’t think there’s any reason to get depressed about what is going on unless you have some vested interested in it or expect it to be other than what it is. There’s nothing stopping you from creating whatever you want to create… Showing or selling it is another issue if you’re planning on making something that doesn’t conform to the prevailing art ideology. The world has always been a chaotic warring mess. Imagine living through the decline and fall of Rome, dark ages, Viking Sagas (see also our myriad sword and sorcery epics). … tough days.

        My notion of art is that what you make is its own reward. The thing itself. It’s how one explores their own consciousness. Anything beyond that is irrelevant. If you’re making it to please others, get recognition, make money…. yes, that can get depressing really fast, particularly since we live in a world of mindless consumer addicts who just want to be entertained, distracted or have their kitsch tastes catered to.

        You don’t have to tune into the cheap thrill Barnum and Bailey art world. It’s destroyed itself decades ago with Pop Art… Now it’s just a pathetic carnival freak show. There is still pre-1950s art to look at, learn from, and be inspired by… There’s still good writing, good cinema, good art around the fringes and margins…. and the immensely rich history of the preceding centuries.

  5. It’s rather late where I’m at, and I can’t think of a substantive comment at the moment, but thank you for informing me about Linke. His work is truly exciting.

  6. trueoutsider says:

    Hi Sirbaronearwig,

    I’m glad to hear you’re excited about Linke’s work. I’m excited about it as well. Thanks for writing.

  7. Alan says:

    I first became aware of Linke after viewing his works included Bus at the National Museum in Warsaw. Incredible artist. I can’t believe he’s not more well know… to the point we can’t even find any english articles about him??

    There is one painting that really stuck with me and there are NO images of it online. Perhaps you might have better luck… It’s called “The Niggard”, if memory serves. As I remember it, it is a painting of someone drowning.

  8. trueoutsider says:

    Thanks for writing Al. Hope you don’t mind if I try to keep things on a strictly informal basis here.

    There’s an obvious that Linke is not well known and it doesn’t surprise me at all. He certainly is an incredible artists but he’s one of many, many artists that have been virtually obliterated due to the Cold War politics of the Triumph of Abstract Painting. I’ve done quite a bit of research on it over the last few years that’s contained on my blog. It’s entirely ignored along with my blog, of course. But nonetheless it’s true. The truth is many casualties of US cold war propaganda.

    Linke is, of course, a painter from a Communist country. Communism didn’t produce any painters worth looking at, as they were humanist painters portraying the human condition. Abstract Expressionists painted nothingess. Art for Art’s sake was de rigeur. Social Realism was obliterated along with artists like Hopper in America. Hopper was rehabilitated at some point to show just how magnanimous and open-minded the American Art community was.

    Of course all the other artists depicting the social conditions during the Great Depression were relegated to painters who are vaguely realistic and old hat with nothing whatsoever to say in their paintings. Unlike the Abstract Expressionists, who were painters of sublime and profound truths, emanating from their colored lozenges and tangles of poured paint and action dances with liquor bottle in one hand and Greenberg/Rosenberg cooking up the nonsensical drivel that put the entire thing over.

    It’s implicitly believed with no dissent whatsoever by American artists, as without the ascendancy of the Abstract Painters to the heights of Western Painting, I.e. entirely repudiating it and its values, American painting in its entirety post-war would amount to very little indeed.

    Presumably, my thinking and writing are considered anti-American, when in reality they’re simply pro-art. America and their hero Duchamp whose entire reputation was Made in America and whose value system was a cynical repudiation of the entire history of the Western Tradition of painting
    was, in effect, a charlatan and a liar (see Julian Spaulding’s Con Art for the research).

    Europeans and the rest of the world also believe this entirely farcical fabrication of Art History as it’s been shoved down their throats along with Coca Cola, Marilyn, Andy and Domino’s Pizza. And think this is the most wonderful Civilization that mankind could have ever imagined apparently from the looks of Jeff Koons breaking all attendance records at the Pompidoodoo Center and the worship of Paul McCarthy Buttplugs.

    This is the Civilization we’re pitting against Islamic extremism in the Clash of Civilizations.

    What was entirely driven out of art was artists with any knowledge of the world or political opinions or points of view at all other than which colored design they think is the greatest.

    A good friend of mine is French and went to art school both in France in and England. He’d never heard of James Ensor when I asked him what he thought of this extraordinary painter, who apparently doesn’t figure into an art education in Europe, where the course of study includes vast tracts describing the importance of the work of Marina Abramovic and Tracey Emin. Emin, whose brilliant drawing abilities (according to pinhead Jonathan Jones at the Guardian, anyway which employs nothing but pinheads to review art) have landed her an appointment to the Royal Academy. She’s no doubt a worthy successor to Turner; and Britain can proudly await whatever wonders the next generation of British geniuses will be produced under the steady guidance of Tracey Emin.

    What do artists themselves have to say about all of this? Either mum’s the word or “YAY! Go Tracey!” or those who are subliterate (the vast majority) simply hit the LIKE button.

    Greenberg himself called artists moral idiots and psychopaths. Being one himself, he was no doubt an expert. And I certainly see little to disagree with when surveying the bankrupt narcissists with their delusions of grandeur known as the New York School.

    But this is my own singular opinion from what I’ve been able to gather through my experience writing this blog. I imagine it a view similar to Ensor’s own when thinking about his contemporary Academic colleagues. I’d also imagine Linke and the other artists above had similar attitudes to their academic contemporaries.

    And, personally, I think artists doing thinly disguised knockoffs of the artists above aren’t much to write home about either.

    As artists, the few in existence these days, we live under a thoroughly sclerotic and morally bankrupt Academy of Imbecile Artists churning out crud for the lobbies and offices of Corporate office buildings. A John Currin painting is just the thing for the groovy CEOs of the techno-revolution I imagine. Our Contemporary Art Museums and their collections have come to resemble little more corporate office buildings, come to think of it. I find them almost unbearable to go into these days. And can’t recall the last time I was in one.

    None of the self-promoters of this shite seem to want to acknowledge the glaring and sordid fact of where we are today as a community of artists. But I’ll continue banging away on my little Tin Drum… Nothing much better to do as I watch mankind, as did Ensor, blow itself to bits in an orgy of sex, drugs, and violence unwilling to endure of a word of criticism of their behavior. By the way, I wonder who’s taken note of the portrait of the Marquis de Sade in Ensor’s “Entry of Christ into Brussels”?

    The End of the Enlightenment writ large. Ensor, for me, is the single visionary artist of his period who anticipates the charnel house of the 20th century. Duchamp and Man Ray, of course, were great worshippers of de Sade and his deep humanistic impulses.

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