Home Biography Katarzyna Kobro Biography: Childhood, Career, Art Style

Katarzyna Kobro Biography: Childhood, Career, Art Style


Who is Katarzyna Kobro? Katarzyna Kobro, a Polish avant-garde artist, played a prominent role in the country’s Constructivist movement. Katarzyna Kobro’s artworks resisted Aestheticism and pushed for the use of rhythm in her spatial compositions and the incorporation of scientific advances into visual art. Using spatial Composition, prefabricated parts, and commercial or consumer objects in her sculptures, Katarzyna Kobro investigated the concept of spatiality.

Even though few of Katarzyna Kobro’s works have been saved, they all possess a high aesthetic value. She was among the most celebrated female artists of the interwar period. Because so many of Katarzyna Kobro’s sculptures — particularly her early works — were destroyed and are only known through the iconographic record. It was necessary to rebuild some of her artworks after her death to comprehend the scope of her inventiveness and courage. She was also one of the twentieth century’s most tragic figures in Polish art history.

Some of her works had to be reconstructed after her 1951 death in ód to convey the scope of her inventiveness and courage. Her sculptures, primarily her early works, were lost and are only known via the iconographic record. She was also one of the most tragic individuals in the history of Polish art from the twentieth century. A war exile due to her German-Russian ancestry (she was born in Moscow in 1898), she lost some of her sculptures when they were discarded as war debris. Her tragic separation from Wadysaw Strzemiski following the war required her to work to support her child. Having signed the so-called “Russian list” during the war, she also needed to defend herself in court against the charge of “departing from Polish nationality.”

All of this and her ultimate struggle against a terminal illness depleted her creative energy in her final years. As a result, Kobro has stayed in Strzemiski’s shadow, on the periphery of the avant-garde art scene in ód. Strzemiski confirmed having included five of Kobro’s Kompozycje Przestrzenne (Spatial Compositions) in the 1948 exhibition in the Neoplastic Room of the Museum in ód. However, Kobro herself, who was still alive at the time, was not invited. At least in his assessment of her work, Strzemiski remained faithful to his early view, which he had developed as early as 1922 when he referred to her as “the most talented of the young” sculptors. He added:

Her supremacist artworks constitute a pan-European phenomenon. Her paintings are an essential step forward and a triumph for inviolable values; they are not an imitation of Malevich but rather a similar body of work.

 Early Childhood and Early Education

Katarzyna Kobro was of mixed origin; her mother was of Russian descent, and her father was from a Latvian-based German family. Katarzyna earned her schooling in Moscow but spent most of her adult life in Poland. Before being evacuated to Moscow, she attended the 3rd Female Warsaw Gymnasium, where her artistic qualities were already apparent. According to her daughter Nika Strzemiska, her mother began creating sculptures and sketches in high school, first in bread and then in plaster.

She received the highest honors in art, manual work, and natural sciences in her 1916 bachelor’s degree. Most of Kobro’s life is still mysterious, demanding some educated speculation to determine the reality. In a hospital in Moscow in 1916, she most likely encountered Wadysaw Strzemiski. From 1917 until 1920, she studied at the School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture in Moscow, which had superseded the Academy of Fine Arts.

Katarzyna Kobro joined the Trade Union of Artists of the City of Moscow in 1918, an association of left-leaning painters that included Olga Rozanova, Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, and Alexander Rodchenko, all of whom are likely to have influenced her artworks. During her third year of study, Kobro traveled to Smolensk, where she did several odd jobs. Maria, her other sister, remained in Moscow while her mother, father, and Viera moved to Riga simultaneously.

During this time, her acquaintance with Strzemiski developed, and in 1920, she married the artist. They controlled a UNOVIS branch, maintained relationships with individuals such as Malevich and Eliezer Lisicki, and most likely worked to set the new norms for Russian culture and art. Their workshop was viewed as “a spectrum of constructivism,” and they were cited as an illustration of “extreme communist beliefs.”


Early Career

In 1920, Kobro created her first sculpture, which has since been lost and is now only represented by a photograph. Tos 75 – Structure was the piece’s title, blended futuristic and cubist elements with a dynamic collage of prefabricated wood, metal, glass, and cork parts.

Between 1921 and 1922, Kobro likely created two other works in Smolensk; Janusz Zagrodzki eventually recreated these lost works; the first artist to document her body of work is now known as Hanging Constructions.

The first relates to Rodchenko’s spatial realizations and Malevich’s idea of suprematism. The sculpture, which consisted of an elliptical shape linked by a wooden cube, a metal rod, and a cuboid, appeared to defy gravity.

The most significant element, a giant oval form, was placed in the upper portion of the structure; however, it is hard to assess the system as a whole because the surviving photograph does not indicate the precise materials used for each component.

According to Janusz Zagrodzki, the second sculpture comprised prefabricated components and had a distinct personality. According to the author, “the relationship between the different shapes was not permanent, and the pressure and vibrations of the steel parts produced fresh, dynamic effects, giving the components of the sculpture the illusion of being perpetually in motion.” Simultaneously, “the artist positioned symbolic signals, the proto-forms of suprematism—the circle and the cross—within the region defined by a dynamic, inner-energy-filled hoop form.”

Middle Career

After experiencing their first creative experiences in Russia, Katarzyna Kobro and Strzemiski fled to Poland through an illicit border crossing, most likely before the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1922, they lived with Strzemiski’s family in Vilnius, but Kobro was left alone to join her family in Riga. Strzemiski then began actively promoting his wife’s work in Poland and other endeavors.

In 1924, Kobro, together with Henryk Staewski, Henryk Berlewi, Mieczysaw Szczuka, Teresa Arnowerówna, and, of course, Strzemiski himself, was a member of the Blok group, a collection of Warsaw-based avant-garde painters.

In the group’s publication, “Blok,” two photos of Kobro’s sculptures were included. For Kobro to return to Poland, the pair married in a Riga church the same year. During his short stay in Latvia, Strzemiski connected with several local artists.

Consequently, Blok exhibited the works of its members in the Riga Museum that winter, while Kobro exhibited the unnamed Constructions made of glass and metal sheets. When the couple returned to Poland, they first settled in Szczekociny before moving to Brzeziny near ód, Katowice, and then Koluszki, where Strzemiski sought to make a living by teaching art.

Strzemiski left Blok towards the end of 1924, and Kobro likely followed him. The following year, she created two notable sculptures, “Spatial Composition” and “Spatial Sculpture,” which have been primarily restored today.

Both pieces included the artist’s expressive abstract forms and geometric shapes, which would later inspire some of her most renowned works. She was associated with architects who participated in the Praesens group, who joined the organization in 1926 due to their search for a “global vision of creating space.” However, her work was not widely recognized outside her creative circles at the time.

In 1926, her sculptures were exhibited in Poland for the first time at the Zachta Gallery in Warsaw as part of a more extensive Praesens exhibition. Critics did not receive them well since they believed a sculpture should consist of a solid mass and disagreed with Kobro’s understanding of spatiality. Strzemiski convinced of Kobro’s remarkable skill, compensated for the critics’ lack of generosity. He insisted that her innovative ideas be given greater weight and evaluated objectively.

Strzemiski observed to Julian Przybo that Kobro’s plaster Nudes resemble some of August Zamoyski’s works but are superior. One of the critics stated that Kobro exhibited “furniture” during the 1928 Modernists’ Salon exhibition at Warsaw’s Trade Unions of the Artists; Strzemiski replied, “Was it so difficult to realize from the program that these were not furniture but spatial sculptures?”

Later Career

It is uncertain whether Kobro produced any new works during the pre-World War II years, mainly devoted to housework and child care. Throughout the war, the family traveled constantly. When the Strzemiskis returned to ód in 1940, they found that the previous occupants had destroyed the art they had left in the basement of their pre-war apartment.

The primary target of this “cleaning” was Kobro, and she could only locate a couple of her paintings on a heap of garbage. Later, in 1945, she destroyed several wooden carvings to feed her starved daughter. After the war, Kobro’s life became increasingly precarious. Strzemiski unsuccessfully attempted to deny her the right to care for their daughter. She was accused of “abandoning her Polish nationality” and given a six-month prison sentence; she was only released after filing an appeal. In addition, she had a fatal condition that ultimately led to her demise.

Her latest works include Nudes from 1948 and the Siemiatycze crayon landscapes. Supporting the sculpture by Kobro is Akty. Janusz Zagrodzki compares them to her work Akty from the 1920s, emphasizing her more recent works’ greater expressiveness, monumentality, and dynamism.

He highlights their formal complexity and elaboration, which result from the audacious human body distortion. However, he also highlights their sensuality, a characteristic of her earlier works, despite her later sculptures being more condensed, simpler, and “almost Classical.”

People continued to mistrust Kobro’s work after 1945, just as they had during the interwar period. She remained for an extended period in Strzemiski’s career shadow.

This was especially evident at the first post-war exhibition of Kobro and Strzemiski, held in Lodz and Warsaw at the turn of 1956. Kobro’s beliefs on the coexistence of sculpture and time, which were fully depicted for the first time in the 1973 Polish Constructivism exhibition, could finally be reassembled. This increased interest in Kobro’s work, particularly among constructivist legacy “revision” critics linked with conceptual art and minimalism.

During the 1980s and 1990s, things began to change. The artist’s history (or, more accurately, the biographies of the two artists, Kobro and Strzemiski) caught the interest of critics and academics, spawning a feminist interpretation of her life and work, among other variations. In addition, in the 1980s and 1990s, numerous exhibitions, notably international ones, began to include Kobro’s work.

Kobro’s aesthetic ideals

Like Strzemiski, Kobro’s aesthetic ideals covered not just the work of art itself but also the presence and function of art outside the artistic sphere. Strzemiski said that under suprematism, “the background is a constructively passive force.” In contrast, he was interested in “the total communion of background and form in a single original whole” – or “post-suprematism” (unison). The objective of Kobro’s work was to “construct space,” which was comparable to her thoughts. Both individuals rejected the distinction between “pure” and “applied” art. Neither was Kobro interested in intuitive or imaginative work; he relied mainly on the rigors of mathematics and logic.

Janusz Zagrodzki states that she intended to design a system that rationally combines all shapes’ dimensions, where the arrangement of even the most minor pieces would be correctly calculated. Important to her were the presentation of her sculptures and the colors of each component (in Rzeby Abstrakcyjne, she honored the natural color of her material, sometimes adding black and white; in Kompozycje przestrzenne, she employed yellow, red, blue, black, and white).


Exhibition of Kobro after War

The work of Kobro, which was viewed as contentious during the interwar period, was viewed with equal suspicion after 1945. She stayed in the shadow of Strzemiski’s career for many years. The first post-war exhibition of Kobro and Strzemiski’s paintings staged at the turn of 1956 in ód and Warsaw made this point abundantly clear. But part of the issue was that her work was not generally recognized. Not until Janusz Zagrodzki began his work in 1966, locating and rebuilding the lost sculptures, did the art world completely understand her body of work.

This research made it possible to reconstitute Kobro’s theories regarding the coexistence of sculpture with space and time, which were first completely displayed in the 1973 exhibition Constructivism in Poland 1923-1936. Blok, Praesens, A.R. at Museum Folkwang in Essen and at the Rijksmuseum Kroller-Müller in Otterlo.

This increased interest in Kobro’s work, particularly among critics linked with conceptual art and minimalism who were “revising” the constructivist heritage. Her art, which was purist and analytical, finally earned her a position among the most illustrious constructivists due to a somewhat tardy appreciation for it.

Then, during the 1980s and 1990s, the circumstance altered. The artist’s history piqued the curiosity of critics and scholars (or rather, the biographies of the two artists, Kobro and Strzemiski), resulting in feminist and other interpretations of her life and work. During the 1980s and 1990s, several shows began to feature Kobro’s art, particularly international exhibitions. In 1998, a monographic exhibition was held at the Muzeum Sztuki (Museum of Art) in ód; the catalogue included essays by Nika Strzemiska, Janina adnowska, Janusz Zagrodzki, and Andrzej Turowski, among others. In addition, it gave a history of Kobro’s exhibitions and a comprehensive bibliography.

Janusz Zagrodzki’s Katarzyna Kobro I kompozycja przestrzeni (“Katarzyna Kobro and the Composition of Space”) from 1984 (see also his numerous essays on the artist) and Andrzej Turowski’s Konstruktywizm polski are particularly interesting. Próba rekonstrukcji nurtu (1921-1934) ( “Polish Constructivism. An Attempt to Reconstruct the Movement”) from 1981 (see also his other writings on constructivism itself); and the memoirs of Nika Strzemiska, titled “Love, Art, and Enmity” (Love, Art, and Enmity) from 1993. O Katarzynie Kobro I Władysławie Strzemińskim” (“Love, Art and Hatred. On Katarzyna Kobro and Władyslaw Strzemiński “) from 1991.

Art Style

A complex path between these early and later works demonstrates the artist’s growing social and artistic awareness. Like Strzemiski, Kobro’s aesthetic theories encompassed not just the artwork itself but also the presence and function of art outside the creative sphere.

According to Strzemiski, “the background is a constructively passive feature” in suprematism; nonetheless, he was interested in “the whole communion of background and form as a unique totality,” or “post-suprematism.” Similar to Kobro, whose objective was to “build space,” Both rejected the difference between “pure” and “applied” art. Kobro had little interest in intuitive or imaginative work and relied heavily on the rigor of logic and mathematics.

On the eve of the 1917 revolution, Katarzyna Kobro attended the Moscow School of Art and Architecture to study sculpture. 1920, she moved to Smolensk, where she joined the artistic community surrounding Kazimir Malevich. While there, she designed theatrical sets and posters and taught sculpture at the School of Ceramics. With her spouse, the painter Wadysaw Strzemiski, she created the local chapter of the Russian artists’ group UNOVIS. Kobro will be most renowned for her avant-garde sculptures that combined numerous notions regarding space, movement, and the human body.

Katarzyna Kobro Sculpture

She wrote that the most crucial aspect of sculpture was “the link between the space contained within the sculpture and the area around the sculpture.” Kobro and her husband, the avant-garde painter Wadysaw Strzemiski, escaped Russia and settled in Poland in 1924. During World War II, the Nazis destroyed most of her work in a raid on her workshop during the 1939 invasion of Poland. Some of her sculptures were recreated after her death in 1951, while others are only known through photographs.

The permanent collection gallery “Katarzyna Kobro, Shaping Space” on the fifth floor of the Museum of Modern Art in New York is dedicated to the artist, her circle, and the ongoing legacy of her “radically open structures formed of crossing planes of sheet metal.” Spatial Composition (5), one of her few surviving sculptures, is on loan from the Museum of Contemporary Art in ód, Poland. d.

The roots of the daily doodle can be traced back to 1998 when Google’s co-founders changed the search engine’s logo with a Burning Man image while they were on vacation. Since then, some of art history’s most renowned figures have been recognized on the homepage of the internet giant, including the Dutch Golden Age master Johannes Vermeer on November 12, 2021.


What is Katarzyna Kobro’s estimated net worth?

Katarzyna Kobro was a renowned Polish sculptor. At this point, neither her net worth nor her salary has been reported by the media. According to several websites, sculptors earn at least $74,576 each year. Katarzyna must have made a respectable livelihood from her occupation.

She must have been thrilled with the wealth she amassed throughout her career. Katarzyna has also established a reputation for herself as a sculptor. Her financial worth and earnings would have significantly increased if she had lived longer.

Katarzyna Kobro was born in Poland

Katarzyna Kobro saw the world for the first time on January 26, 1898. She was born in Moscow, the capital of Russia. She was 53 years old when she passed away. According to her birthday, her solar sign was Aquarius. Katarzyna would celebrate her birthday on January 26 every year. She was born to Nikolai Alexander Michael von Kobro and Evgenia Rozanov (mother).

She reportedly comes from a mixed-race household. Her father was born to Baltic German parents, while her mother was taken to Russian parents. Her entire family went to Moscow in 1915. Unknown at this time is whether Katarzyna had any siblings. Katarzyna was a Russian citizen of German and Russian ancestry. She also followed Christianity as a religion.

Katarzyna Kobro graduated when?

Katarzyna attended the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture on Moscow’s Ulitsa Rozhdestvenka to study painting, sculpture, and architecture. In 1920, she obtained her diploma.

Who was Katarzyna Kobro’s husband?

Katarzyna was a joyful mother and wife. She and her husband, Wladyslaw Strzemiski, were wed. Her spouse was a Polish artist by profession. The pair married in 1920. They exchanged vows with their family, friends, and relatives. The status of their relationship was favorable.

Katarzyna Kobro is pictured with her husband

Nika Strzemiska is their only child from their marriage. The pair were having a great time together, sharing their happiness and sadness. In addition, there was no indication of their separation or divorce. However, after her passing, their connection dissolved.

What style did Katarzyna Kobro employ in her writing?

Katarzyna was one of the most accomplished avant-garde artists of the interwar era. She criticized Aestheticism, Individualism, and Subjectivism in her writings. Instead, she chose the pure objectivism of form. Her major intention was to create an abstract work of art utilizing objective and universal criteria.

In sculpture, she demonstrated her most exquisite aesthetic. Space is shown as uniform and devoid of focal points or reference points. Meanwhile, Katarzyna worked to organize her work so that it would not be divided into space. It coexists with space and allows space to travel through it.

What caused Katarzyna Kobro’s death?

Katarzyna was diagnosed with cancer in 1950 and died on February 21, 1951, due to a lack of treatment. She went away without incident at the age of 53. She also died in a ód, Poland.


Katarzyna Kobro is a Polish photographer who specializes in portraiture and fashion photography. Her work has been featured in magazines such as Wprost, Elle Poland, and Harper’s Bazaar Polska. In this article, we explore some of the techniques that Kobro uses to capture the beauty and sensuality of her subjects. Whether you are looking to up your game regarding fashion photography or just want to learn more about creating stunning portraits, be sure to check out Katarzyna Kobro’s work!

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