Look Me in the Eyes: Witkacy’s ‘Portrait Gaze’ as a Critique and Anticipation of Culture Industry

By Natalia Stanusch – This paper analyzes the construction of ‘portrait gaze’ as a visual device that orients, manipulates, and challenges the gaze of the viewer of Witkacy’s portraits. Witkacy (1885-1939), often compared to Marcel Duchamp, was one of the most controversial and complex figures of 20th-century Polish art. This paper focuses on one of the least explored and convoluted phases of Witkacy’s career, especially in international literature, namely the portraiture he made starting in 1925. In that year, Witkacy set up the S. I. Witkiewicz Portrait Firm, where he whimsically took on the…