He was born on 30th December 1924 in Kraków to a family of
Bartłomiej, architect and builder, and Janina née Daun. In 1945–46
he studied at the Academy of Commerce. In 1947 he began working
as a designer in an office at the same time studying architecture at
the Krakow University of Technology (which until 1949 were the
Polytechnic Faculties of the Academy of Mining). He also studied
photography as one of the supplementary courses. After obtaining
the diploma in architecture and Master of Engineering title in 1954
he was employed at the state Studio of Conservation of Monuments.
In 1955 Wacław Nowak completed a course in artistic photography
for amateurs run by the Polish Photographic Society in Krakow and
decided to abandon the dependent profession of an architect, which
at the time was practiced only in state-owned design offices, and
start anew as a freelance photographer.
In 1957 he became the member of the ZPAP – Polish Association of
Art Photographers, set up a mutual aid creative group “Domino” together
with Zbigniew Łagocki
and Wojciech Plewiński
, which was
later called “The Group of Three”.
His long-term cooperation with Cracovian theatres. publishing
houses and architectural firms started in 1958.
In the years 1964–70 he led his own original class in photography
at the Industrial Design Department of the ASP in Krakow. As a
result of his activity an Inter-Faculty Division of Photography was established,
which was later transformed into the first Polish Chair of
Photography at an art school.
In 1966 Wacław Nowak built a quasi-stroboscope device to take
photographs of moving objects. He also experimented in nude studies
In 1967 he purchased a super wide-angle lens Fish-eye converter
in Hamburg, and as the first photographer in Poland he made a series
of architecture and nude studies with the help of such an
In 1968 he was awarded the honorary title “Artiste FIAP” by the
International Federation of Photographic Art. In 1969–70 Nowak
continued to look for the new means of artistic expression introducing
the technique of overlaying image over image creating the
so called “photograph in the photograph”and blending two different
negatives into a “sandwich”.
This is what he wrote in 1970 about himself and his work for the
Profil Gallery in Bratislava :
“...Actually I am a poet and a romantic poet too, being influenced
by nature with which I made a treaty of friendship when I gave up
hunting. With regard to photography I am continually as if on a
self-instruction course. This process of self-betterment is a part of
a bigger programme not only in the field of photography and I
wish it would never end...”
In 1970 the artist made a series of 70 photographs for the Museum
Gallery of the Polaroid-Land company. Confined by his illness
he worked at home taking up the classical “still life” theme. In 1976
he was awarded the honorary title of the International Federation
of the Photographic Art “Excellence FIAP”. He died on the 10th August
1976 at the age of mere 51.
He was a Cracovian not only because he was born and lived in
Krakow, but also owing to his family ties with the city. As a grandson
of the sculptor and professor of the ASP, Alfred Daun, he was naturally
endowed with humanistic approach to reality, and respect for
art and nature, the need of self – development and learning more
not only about the practical but also the theoretical aspects of art.
His rich artistic activity spanned over merely twenty years. In this
time he took part in 80 group (28 in Poland, 52 abroad) and 9 solo
exhibitions. Dozens of his photographs were published mostly
abroad in the press as well as in books and album publications devoted
to artistic photography. Among the international professionals
his name has been well-established and highly valued. Those of
the critics who follow the reception of Polish art abroad are very
well aware of the above fact.
More at www.mhf.krakow.pl/wystawy/nowak/index.htm
The above materials were obtained courtesy of Mrs. Szarota Nowak,
wife, muse and model of Wacław Nowak.