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Oooh! Szukalski!

Pete linked to this convoluted website, and I took a look at it, as one does. Holy crap, it's got Szukalski art on it!

One of my studio mates once brought a book of Szukalski's art to the studio, and I was immediately fascinated by it. His sculpture looked like something from an undiscovered culture, but executed by the hand of a pre-modern master. A lot of it was destroyed or stolen in the upheavals in his native Poland during and after World War II. His drawings were an extention of that sculpture work: meticulous, skillful and strange.

Whether it was the loss of the work of the first half of his life, or some genetic disposition, or both, I can't tell, but one other thing was clear from reading the book: Szukalski was also absolutely insane. I know some of my readers hate terms like "fucking nuts" or "batshit insane", but he was both, and more. Szukalski devoted the second half of his long life, and his considerable artistic skills, to documenting a racial theory he had invented, called Zermatism, in which he argued that mankind had been polluted through contact with subhuman ape-men, yetis, or ahumans. His illustrations included many portraits of historical figures, purporting to demonstrate that history's worst villains, the Stalins and Hitlers (as well as anyone else Szukalski didn't like), were all ape-men, a contamination of the pure and good human race. The text of the book my studio-mate showed me was full of invective against anyone suspected of being an ape-man, the offspring of human beings raped by ape-men, or contaminated by the ideologies of ape-men. From reading it, those categories eventually came to include anyone who wasn't Szukalski.

A young, presumably not yet crazy Szukalski
Szukalski in better days. Of course, he died destitute and forgotten, as people like that do, and he saw his diminished circumstances as proof that the world was suppressing his revolutionary breakthrough discoveries. But a few people have been keeping the flame alive (damn, shouldn't have taken Boing Boing off my blogroll), so I occasionally hear from people who know and like his work. In fact, now that I'm researching it for this post, interest in him seems to have undergone a bit of a resurgence. Szukalski.

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