Portfolio "Polish Individualities" in collections and at exhibitions 29/01/2020

Indywidualności Polskie

In 2009, under the patronage of the National Library in Poland, I created a collection of 44 b/w portraits from the period of 1972-1995, accompanied by my commentaries in Polish, English, German and French. All that comprises a portrait Portfolio entitled "Polish Individualities", promoted during an exhibition.

Foreword to the Portfolio was written by Professor Andrzej Rottermund,
the director of the Royal Castle, Warsaw. 

President Bronisław Komorowski donated the Portfolio to the Museum of Europe Brussels, Orange Polska S.A. provided one copy to the Bibliothèque Polonaise de Paris BPP and the Museum of History of Photography Cracow, Poznań International Fair purchased one Portfolio for the National Museum Poznań, PKO Bank Polski, for the National Library, Kulczyk Investments,  for the Jagiellonian Library and the President of the Federal Republic of Germany Mr Horst Köhler, Associacion of Authors ZAiKS, for the Warsaw University Library and Royal Castle, Warsaw, Mazovia Province Governor, for Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle (Saale), and Lower Silesia Province Governor purchased one Portfolio for EUR 7,500 for the National Museum of Ukraine, Lviv.

Portfolio is a cardboard box in 45 x 32 x 7 cm. format, which, together with the photos 33x47cm and commentaries, meets all the criteria of an archival museum object and, as an artistic book, has an ISBN code.

Promotional exhibitions of the Portfolio were held, inter alia, in the International Newspaper Museum, Aachen, Bibliothèque Polonaise de Paris BPP ae part of Paris Photo 2010, Polsky Institut, Prague and Dum Umĕni, Opava, Lietuvos mokslų akademijos Vrublevskių bibliotekoje, Vilnius (Lt), Kunstmuseum Moritzburg, Halle (Saale), National Library, Warsaw, Warsaw University Library and Jagiellonian Library, Cracow, Galeria Sleńdzińskich, Białystok and Galeria Amfilada of the Municipal Culture Centre, Olsztyn. The open-air exhibition of the Portfolio was organised by Gallery on the Fence of the Saski Garden, Lublin.

The "Polish Individualities" exhibition together with the Spanish version of the portfolio was presented at the Galería Arteko in San Sebastian, the European City of Culture, and at the turn of 2016/2017, it was presented at the Sala de Exposiciones del Auditorio y Centro de Congresos in the Spanish city of Murcia.
In Summer 2017 the exhibition was on display at the Polnisches Institut, Vienna. In autumn 2018 it was presented by the Ruskij Muzej Fotografii, Niżhnij Novgorod, and in February 2019 – at the Gallery of the Association of Polish Artistic Photographers ZPAF in Katowice. In November the photos were donated to the Wrobleskis Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences in Vilnius and became a part of its permanent collection.

The exhibition was shown in the Russian Museum of Photography, in Nizhnij Novgorod, and then in ROSFOTO in St. Petersburg.

The Portfolio can be viewed in the "Portfolio" tab at: www.gieraltowski.pl
  • Photos from the Portfolio promotional exhibition come in two formats (14 horizontal and 30 vertical), depending on the size of the exhibition hall.
  • Small exhibition: 44 photos 23.5x36cm and 6 information boards, in aluminium frames protected with plexiglass 26.5x 37.5cm; transported in a box measuring 77x120x h68cm.
  • Bigger exhibition: 44 photos 40x60cm and 6 information boards, in aluminium glazed frames 50x70cm; transported in 4 professional boxes measuring 70x78x h72cm.
Indywidualności Polskie - catalogue cover

The National Museum in Gdańsk published a 52-page catalogue for the Polish Individualities exhibition, which presents the whole project in the 23.5cm x 33cm format which can be purchased at 25 EUR plus P&P as per data at the end of the text.

Indywidualności Polskie - catalogue cover

Impart Festival Office from Wrocław published a 132-page Spanish version of the catalogue for the exhibition in San Sebastian.
It can be purchased at 25 EUR plus P&P.

"A portrait without a face" exhibition

Portret bez twarzy

In September/November 2013 the retrospective exhibition entitled "A Portrait without a Face", was premiered at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

My subjective portrait is a counterpoint for the anthropometric and similar identifying pictures, so widely demanded and appreciated in the today’s globalised world.
Faces formed with a lens, sank in the darkness, extremely brightened, pictures made by putting one negative over another or showing just the silhouette, all of them give you a picture of a modern human beings; even though their faces are sometimes out of focus or replaced with hands, or, according to the pars pro toto rule, shown as just a fragment of their face. Some of the portraits are supplemented with multi-symbolic props that allow individual viewers to interpret the pictures according to their own imagination.

  • The exhibition comprises 156 photos: 53 colour photos measuring 50 x 60cm are shielded with plexiglass and framed with black mat aluminium 76 x 90cm frames; 70 b/w photos measuring 40 x 60 cm are shielded with 2mm glass and framed with black mat aluminium 50 x 70cm frames; and 33 b/w and colour photos measuring 26.5 x 37.5cm, which are shielded with plexiglass and framed with black mat aluminium 34 x 46.5cm frames. The exhibition also comprises 5 posters (70 x 100cm) framed and shielded with plexiglass, transported in a cardboard measuring 15 x 72 x 105cm.

    The exhibition is transported in 5 professional cases measuring 70x80xh70 cm, 3 cases measuring 60x85xh110cm, and one case measuring 77x115xh68cm.

The exhibition is organised in modules following the chapters of the catalogue, such that an interested curator can arrange his own version.

From the Royal Castle of Warsaw the exhibition went on to the National Museum in Wrocław, then to the Museum of History of Photography in Cracow and to the National Museum of Ukraine in Lviv. In 2017 the exhibition was presented in the MK Čiurlionis National Museum of Art in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas. The Project "A Portrait without a Face" was shown in the Fotoforum Gallery in Innsbruck in October 2019.

The exhibition is accompanied by an exclusive catalogue in Polish and English, with my commentaries, for which I received the 2013 Award of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in Visual Arts.

The project can be viewed in the "Portrait without a Face" tab at: www.gieraltowski.pl
February 15, 2020

The exhibition organiser and catalogue publisher is the Photography Development Foundation, whose chairman is Mariusz Klonowski. The organisation of the exhibition and catalogue publication were also supported by the National Center for Culture and a grant from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and Orange Polska S.A.

The 160 pages Polish-English album/catalogue contains all 150 exhibition photos with my comments and problem texts on portrait photography and the photographer’s situation.

The publication may be purchased at 35€ plus P&P as per the information at the end of the text.

"Face to Face"

Twarzą w twarz

A portraitist has one social obligation - to show models' faces in a clear and obvious manner. And this is exactly what I want to get away from with my subjective portraits. People love to recognise the important and outstanding personalities and identify with them and that is why it is commonly believed that a photo where models are clearly visible is a good photo. Idealised tradition of palace galleries of ancestors shaped the needs and preferences of the public dictating traditional ways of perceiving a portrait.
I have made a lot of such photos in my studio that lure with their appearance and are therefore considered as good.
As I lacked any better idea, I created rather primitive situations hoping that the face of the portrayed person will charm the audience. These are the pictures I used to create Face to Face, which is an exhibition complementary to A portrait without a face.

  • The exhibition comprises 39 vertical 50x60cm colour photos and 2 information boards all in 80x90cm aluminium frames, protected with plexiglass; transported in two 60x85x h110cm professional transport boxes.

After Town Hall Gallery in Rzeszów the exhibition was presented in Municipal Culture Centre Gallery Amfilada in Olsztyn in spring 2015.

No catalogue has been printed for this exhibition yet but it can be viewed on my website www.gieraltowski.pl


Ring - plakat wystawy

The exhibition has been created in cooperation with the art advisor Adam Mazur at the commission of the Centre of Contemporary Art "Znaki czasu" in Toruń, the city where it was presented in spring 2015, after that in Galeria PAcamera in Suwalki.
In 2017 it was presented by Polsky Inštitút in Bratislava and later in the Opole Silesia Museum during the 7th Photography Festival in Opole.

We have searched through over 300,000 black and white negatives from my archives, covering the years 1975-1985, to finally choose 110 portraits made mainly to press interviews. The journalist and the photographer met their interviewer independently, like the two fighters in a boxing ring ("Ring" was the title of one of the columns of the itd weekly), to finally have the joint report published.

I prepared lists of the people I wanted to portray and searched for journalists who would want to talk to them or we worked together on the people as commissioned by the magazine.

I show my favourite artists, meritorious scientists, peasant activists, workmen and socialist managers. Incidentally I also portrayed the oppositionists for my own archives. A more substantial group includes some government pro-communist advisors, Marxist experts and communist ideologists as commissioned by the editorial office.

This is who we were at the time. As a rule, I will write a short comment to each portrait and endeavour to issue the evidence of the times captured in the faces of my contemporaries.

This exhibition changes dynamically: after the show in Toruń, we changed 12 photos for better quality pictures. The Polish Institute in Bratislava decided to show the exhibition in the Small Room and limit the number of photos to 98, which allowed us to transport it in only two boxes. After showing the exhibition in the Opole Silesia Museum, we replaced 22 portraits of writers and three others with different interesting pictures to create
a 98-picture "Ring" exhibition.

  • The exhibition comprises 16 horizontal and 82 vertical photos, 98 in total,
    all copied in Didigraphy technology on the Traditional Photo Paper. The photos are bordered with 3cm black passe-partout, shielded with a 2mm plexiglass and framed with narrow black mat aluminium frames of 33.5x46cm.
  • The exhibition is transported in two professional cases with diameters of 77x115x h68cm.

There is a partial, 32-page catalogue to this exhibition, and all pictures are available at my website www.gieraltowski.pl

"Writers" exhibition

Portrety literackie - plakat wystawy

For the "Writers" exhibition held in spring 2018, I chose 50 of the one hundred photos donated to the Adam Mickiewicz's Literature Museum.
The exhibition was also presented during the 15th Rybnik Photography Festival. Then, from June 13 to September 1, it was displayed in the Deutsches Polen Institut in Darmstadt.
On November 26, 2019 it was opened at the Lietuvos Mokslu Akademijos Vrublevskiu Library in Vilnius in cooperation with the Polish Institute. The exhibition's vernissage was linked with the donation of the "Polish Individualities" portfolio to the Library. The portfolio, which had already been presented at the Library in 2013, now became part of its permanent exhibition. The donation was possible thanks to the grant awarded to the Foundation for Photography Development by the ZAiKS Creation Support Fund.
The next stop of the "Writers" was Alfons Karny Museum in Białystok in February 2020.
Presently negotiations are held on the exhibition presentation in the Polish Library in Paris BPP and Literaturhaus in Leipzig in 2021.

  • The exhibition comprises of 42 b/w and 8 colour photos (12 horizontal and 38 vertical), 50 in total. The photos measuring 27.2 x 40.3cm are bordered with 3cm black passe-partout, shielded with plexiglass and framed with narrow black mat aluminium 33.5 x 46cm frames.

    The exhibition is transported in a professional case of 77x110xh67cm, which weights the total of 106 kg.

As the results of the efforts of the author and Foundation for the Development of Photography, and with support of the ZAiKS Creation Support Fund, the digital version of the catalogue has been completed and can be downloaded for free from www.gieraltowski.pl (with a kind request to send an email to the author afterwards).

Alfons Karny "Snapshots"

Alfons Karny "Snapshots"

In 1979, the curator of the Gallery located at the back of the Grand Theatre-National Opera asked me to take some snapshots of the sculptor Alfons Karny, which he then presented in the venue.

I photographed Karny next to and inside his atelier, among the heads of pre-war officials and with a beautiful stove made of Hutsul tiles standing in the corner. Later, the stove was destroyed, and the atelier didn’t make it to see the Alfons Karny Museum either as both fell victim to the extension of the Sejm building complex.

  • The "Snapshots of Alfons Karny" are a selection of 26 b/w photographs which I have prepared for the Museum in Białystok.

    If anyone wishes to display them, they can be printed in 33.5 x 46 cm format.


I dedicate this exhibition to the memory of Kees Broos,
deceased today in Arnhem, who was a friend of mine,
art historian and connoisseur of photography.

Remake - plakat wystawy

In the 80s, the exhibition showing my portraits of Poles swept through distinguished museums of Milan, Munich, Baden-Baden, Oslo, Finnish Iyvaskyla and had its last show at the Royal Castle in Warsaw in 1988 at the invitation of its Director Aleksander Gieysztor.

As part of this tournée, it was also presented in 1984 in the Dutch Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem and Museum voor Moderne Kunst in Arnhem. So when the "Passage Oost-Europa" Culture Festival was organized in Arnhem, the Director of the Museum Liesbeth Brandt Corstius and her husband Kees Broos invited me to portray the participants of the Festival. In autumn 1990, for 2 weeks I was taking photographs of Russians, GDR-men, Polish and Dutch people. Painters, actresses and directors, composers and conductors, jazz musicians, historians, writers, sculptors, architects and staff organizing the Festival. I was putting up my successively emerging portraits in the Festival Centre, at Schouwburg. It is then thanks to the commission from the Dutch, that I made a portrait, afterwards widely published, of Jerzy Grzegorzewski who visited the Festival with the Studio Theatre.
In Poland, there are no such festivals of people of culture; they lost to Coca-Cola and beer events and therefore this remake as a positive recollection. Thanks to the invitation by Monica Ney, 25 years later, I showed my photographs for the first time in Poland.
In 2017 it was presented during Budapest Photo Festival by Lengyel Intezet.
In 2021 the exibition was published in virtual gallery of ‘FOR PHOTOGRAPHY’ Foundation.

  • The exhibition comprises 17 vertical and 12 horizontal, total of 29 b/w 40x60cm photos, printed with Digigraphie technology on archival Epson Traditional Photo Paper, with a 5cm passe-partout and a 2mm glass in black mat aluminium 50x70cm frames.
  • It is transported in two professional boxes measuring 70x78x h72cm.

Download catalogue Download the catalogue of virtual exhibition.

"The willows" - in search of a form

Willows grow in centuries-old river valleys, stream banks and marshlands, and their rotting trunks give shelter to all kinds of creatures. Willow has its own special place in our folk culture and beliefs. The folk cult of a willow - a tree which plays a useful role, and at the same time is home to good and evil - encourages us to analyse the shape of a tree as such but also to look in a wider perspective at the role of willows as part of traditional Polish landscape. Willows are present in partisan songs, and the art of poster-making has linked them to Chopin's mazurkas.

Tree topping of willows for firewood has lost its importance nowadays, that is why it is difficult to find topped trees in the area. For my pictures I found some between two hamlets in the Podlasie region: Wojny-Szuby Szlacheckie and Wojny-Szuby Włościańskie.

From my childhood I remember a willow weeping over our family grave in Warsaw's Powązki Cemetery. As a new photographer inspired by the works of Edward Hartwig, walking in the Vistula River valley from Sandomierz to Tarnobrzeg I found a March landscape with willows, which – by happy coincidence – was chosen for a cover picture of the 15 April 1964 issue of the today iconic Świat weekly.

I know from experience that a willow acts like a tropical plant. A stick "planted" in mud grows into a tree. Pussy willows we brought to our house in Wigry from Warsaw grew into over 5-metre trees, which I photographed for this project.

The capital of a Polish willow is Wysokie Mazowieckie in the Podlasie region, where the main alleys are lined with these trees. This is the region of my ancestors, who came here in 1560 and established Old and New Gierałty. From here my grandfather Kazimierz, organist married to Anna Gąsowska from the nearby Wojny Pogorzel, moved to Bakałarzewo in Suwalskie District.

Willows introduce us to the world of beauty and magic. When I was taking pictures of these trees walking in mud, in cold and windy weather, I felt almost euphoric because as a grandchild of a peasant my bond with this landscape is written in my genes.

In photographing willows I am torn between the will to picture an idyllic landscape and a desire to create abstract graphic compositions.

I would like my pictures of willows to be a voice in discussion on the art’s need to draw inspiration for the spirit of the land surrounding us.

Warsaw, 20 December 2017 Krzysztof Gierałtowski

  • The exhibition comprises 10 photos (44x44cm), with 3cm black passe-partout, shielded with 2mm plexiglass and framed with narrow black 50x50cm aluminium frames.
    It is transported a professional box measuring 70x78x h72cm.

Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa NarodowegoThe project is co-financed as part of the 2017 Visual Arts Programme
by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.


In December 2018, Biuro Wystaw Artystycznych in Kielce published a 24-page catalogue "X Willows" in the 20.5cm x 23cm format.
Pictures are accompanied by an essay written by the poet Jacek Dobrowolski Symbolika wierzby jako drzewa życia i śmierci w Polsce (Symbolism of the willow as a tree of life and death in Poland), and my personal foreword.

Publication price: PLN 30 + PLN 8 P&P.

"Our dearest Wigry Lake"

These pictures, which I took in 1978 and 1979, were intended for the album entitled "4 Pory Roku" (Four Seasons), published in 1982 by Pojezierze publishing house, with comments by Krystyna Jagiełło, a reporter whom I invited to work on this project with me.

Therefore, the topic was "done" and for 35 years it got lost in my multi-thousand-picture archive, while I focused on my main role – the chronicler-portraitist of Polish individualities. It was brought up again in my talks with Jarosław Borejszo, photography enthusiast and Director of the Wigry National Park, who appreciated the value of my 35-year-old b/w pictures and initiated the exhibition preparation. Then Henryk Kudela, chairman of the "Nad Czarną Hańczą" Association of Social and Cultural Initiatives, and his teams decided to publish the catalogue accompanying the exhibition.

Suwałki region, a land where in 1903 my grandfather Kazimierz moved from Gierałty to take the position of an organist in Bakałarzewo, became a true "small homeland" for my family. From here, in 1920, my 16-year-old father set off to take part in the Battle of the Nemen River as a volunteer soldier in the machine-gun battalion of the 41st Suwałki Infantry Regiment. I owe my first childhood stay in Gawrych Ruda near Wigry Lake to the fact that in 1936-1938 my father was a doctor in this Regiment. Later, in 1950s, I used to swim on Wigry Lake with my father in a typical regional boat. I remember I wasn't allowed to go on the shore, because cows – just like grandpa Kazimierz earlier, on the final day of the War – were blown up on mines and flew to heaven.

Mikołajewo's scarp has been present in my life since 1970s, when I first landed on it with my "Mak" boat and saw a silvering road to Cimochowizna. Then we bought a 1,000 sq.m. parcel of land and planted fruit trees there – mirabelle and wild cherry trees still give fruits every year. A bit later I moved a house on the scarp: it was an 80-year old house of the Ślużyński family, originally erected in Gatne, 16km from away. It was a house adapted from a half of a pre-war guesthouse, built in the year I was born, in Święty Wojciech in Augustowo that had belonged to a major gone missing during the War.

When I look at these historical photos, which fit in this very en vouge trend of archaeological photography, I can see their naivety that contrasts so much with my years-long experience of making portraits – which maybe constitutes their value. At the same time, I can see how close these pictures are to Jan Bułhak's idea of "homeland photography", whose 60th anniversary we will be celebrating in 2018.
I hope that for new audiences of this exhibition it will be like a journey into a forever-enchanting magic land.

The premiere of the exhibition took place in April 2018 in the Gallery of Photography in Town Hall in Zamość. It was then presented in the Monastery in Wigry, Galeria PAcamera in Suwałki, and Museum of Wigry in Stary Folwark. It 2019 it was shown at Galeria Śleńdzińskich in Białystok.

  • The exhibition comprises 54 b/w photos: 21 panoramic pictures in 33x71cm format and 33 pictures in 33.5x46cm format. All photos are framed with narrow black mat 50x50cm aluminium frames with 3cm black passe-partout and shielded with 2mm plexiglass.
    The photos are transported two professional boxes measuring 77x109x h67cm and 72x74x h96cm.
Wigry nasze Wigry

In August 2018, the Wigry Museum published a 60-page catalogue with all pictures from the "Wigry, our Wigry" exhibition in the 21cm x 30 cm format.
Photos are accompanied by comments and quotes from Krystyna Jagiełło’s Cztery pory roku (Four seasons) selected by Marek Starczewski, and my foreword.

Publication price: PLN 60 + PLN 13 P&P.

Earlier publications are also available

Krzysztof Gierłtowski, Portrety

Krzysztof Gierałtowski. Portraits published by Artistic and Film Publisher (Wydawnictwo Artystyczne i Filmowe WAiF), Warsaw 1998.
On its 120 pages you will find 50 b/w portraits (23cm x30cm) with my commentaries in Polish. Foreword of the book was written by Olgierd Budrewicz and Dariusz Karłowicz, and I added a few personal thoughts to it.

Publication price: EUR 15 plus P&P.

Gry z portretem

In Gierałtowski's Eyes is a set of 21 b/w portrait cards in a cover (20x30cm), published on the occasion of the travelling exhibition presented in the Museum of History of Photography in Cracow, prepared in cooperation with Galerią/Studio Gierałtowskiego in 2002. It also includes an essay by Krzysztof Jurecki, who was at the time the curator of the Photography Department of the Museum of Art in Lodz.

Publication price: EUR 12.50 plus P&P.

Gry z portretem

Playing with portraits is a 143-page book in 27x36cm format, published in 2005 by Gierałtowski Gallery/Studio. It is a documentation of my activity in 1962-2014.
It contains reviews of my exhibitions, both in Poland and abroad, as well as essays by Stefan Morawski, Ryszard Kapuściński, Jan Szczepański, Jacek Żakowski and others on portrait photography and my photos, interviews with me and my texts about photography, those funny and more official ones.

Price of this didactic publication, that will appeal especially to younger readers,
is EUR 7 plus P&P.

Gierałtowski - okładka katalogu

In September 2005 Gierałtowski Gallery/Studio published the Gierałtowski, album, accompanying my exhibition in Królikarnia/ National Museum in Warsaw, summing up my 30 years of portreying. This 120-page book in 23x31.5cm format contains 64 b/w and 60 colour photos with my subjective commentaries. Additionally, the album contains Polish and German versions of essays by Krzysztof Pomian, Director of Museum of Europe in Brussels, Hans-Ulrich Lechmann, Senior Conservator of Old Prints in Dresden Gallery and Dorota Folga-Januszewska, Science and Education Director at the National Museum in Warsaw.

Publication price: EUR 30 plus P&P.

Warszawiacy i inni - okładka katalogu

In December 2008 Old-Town Culture House (Staromiejski Dom Kultury) in Warsaw published a 26-page large-format (32cm x 46.5 cm) catalogue accompanying my exhibition entitled Varsovians and others. The publication includes 18 portraits, 30x36cm, my commentaries and the essay written by Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, a culture anthropologist from the University of Warsaw, in Polish and English.

Catalogue price: EUR 20 plus P&P.

All publications can be ordered at krzysztof@gieraltowski.pl
Please include your address and invoice details in your order.
Details of the bank account for payments are as follows:
97 1140 2004 0000 3702 4861 7519
Galeria/Studio Gierałtowskiego,
03-704 Warszawa,
ul. Panieńska 9 m. 7

All eight catalogues presented here can also be purchased in Galeria Leica at ul. Mysia 3 or Ney Gallery&Prints at ul. Spokojna 5 in Warsaw.

All copyrights to the photos and texts included on the web site are reserved to Krzysztof Gierałtowski © krzysztof@gierałtowski.pl
Wszystkie prawa zastrzeżone © Copyright Krzysztof Gierałtowski