More Than a Muse
September 28, 2012
An exceptionally talented and sensitive artist, Sara Lipska (1882-1973) lived for years in the shadow of her guru and lover, the acclaimed Polish sculptor Xawery Dunikowski (1875-1964). For a long time, she could not find a place for herself in the art world. Now, after years of oblivion, work by Lipska, an outstanding painter as well as set designer and fashion designer, is making a comeback to the world of art. Viewers can see a collection of her colorful costumes, paintings and sculptures, as well as catch a glimpse of the sets and interiors she once designed at an exhibition at Warsaw’s Królikarnia Palace.
Lipska was an independent artistic figure who came from a traditional Jewish family. She studied art in Warsaw and then Paris, the cultural capital of the world in her day. Her innovative, sophisticated designs mesmerized onlookers with their wealth of ideas, form and color.
While in Paris, Lipska rubbed shoulders with the local avant-garde. She collaborated with Russian art critic and ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes at the Paris Opera. She also worked with Polish-born business magnate Helena Rubinstein, architect Adrienne Górska, and Antoine de Paris (Antoni Cierplikowski), a well-known hairdresser of Polish origin. Lipska’s great passion was fashion design. Her boutique on Avenue des Champs-Élysées was popular with Russian actresses and aristocrats living in Paris. She was also praised by the “King of Fashion,” Paul Poiret.
Although Lipska was recognized abroad and won several gold medals at world exhibitions, in Poland her work remains virtually unknown. She lived and worked in the shadow of her mentor and great love, Xawery Dunikowski. They met at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, where he was a young professor who ran the sculpture studio, while she had just enrolled for studies at the newly established university.
In their memoirs, various students later referred to Lipska as Dunikowski’s muse. At the end of her university studies, in 1908, Lipska gave birth to their daughter, Maria Xawera Dunikowska, with whom she left for Paris permanently in 1912.
Most of Lipska’s works can now be found in French museums and private collections. The Królikarnia exhibition is the first opportunity for Polish audiences to catch a glimpse of the artist’s diverse output.
until Nov. 4, Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture
Branch of the National Museum in Warsaw; 113A Puławska St., tel. + 48 22 843 15 86; Open daily (except Mondays) 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Admission: zl.8, concessions zl.4
Free admission on Thursdays