Karol Irzykowski and Feliks Kuczkowski: (Theory of) Animation as the Cinema of Pure Movement

Kamila Kuc

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Karol Irzykowski’s The Tenth Muse: Aesthetic Aspects of Cinema (1924) is the first extended study exploring the status of cinema as art in the Polish language. This article looks at these aspects of Irzykowski’s book that relate to his theory of animated film. As the author shows, Irzykowski’s perception of animation can be seen as an effect of his rapport with a Polish animator, Feliks Kuczkowski, as well as Irzykowski’s admiration of Paul Wegener’s films. However, as will be discussed, Irzykowski did not always perceive film as art in the same way as he did painting and sculpture. It is the author’s contention that it was the German critical thinker Rudolf Maria Holzapfel’s theory of appropriate and inappropriate arts that prompted Irzykowski to reconsider his views on film as art. As will be shown, Irzykowski’s theory of animated film developed largely through his familiarity with Kuczkowski’s work and Kuczkowski remains the only known Polish figure who made animated films since 1916. In line with many contemporary developments in the arts, Kuczkowski made his films according to his principle of ‘synthetic-visionary’ film. His innovative ideas are thought of as having influenced such key figures of Polish animation as Jan Lenica and Walerian Borowczyk, while aspects of Irzykowski’s theory can be found in the work of such key Polish avant-garde filmmakers of the 1930s as Jalu Kurek and Stefan Themerson. This article will demonstrate that the rapport between Irzykowski and Kuczkowski was crucial to establishing a dialogue between theory and practice as will be later seen in relation to the emerging film avant-gardes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-296
Issue number3
Early online date24 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • animation
  • avant-garde
  • Expressionism
  • Feliks Kuczkowski
  • Karol Irzykowski
  • medium specificity
  • painting
  • Poland
  • visionary


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