Franciszka and Stefan Themerson were partners and creative collaborators from 1929 until their deaths in 1988. Their art spanned painting, photography, film, theatre, literature, concrete poetry, book design, and satirical drawing. Driven by a dedication to defy convention and disregard boundaries between disciplines, their eclectic practice was distinguished by constant reinvention and technical experiment in every field.
Books, Camera, Ubu focuses on three main areas of their creative oeuvre: their influential experimental film work; their books and independent publishing house, Gaberbocchus Press; and Franciszka’s stage design, puppets and a comic strip, all based on Alfred Jarry’s anarchic play, Ubu Roi.
Supported by the Art Fund, the Polish Cultural Institute, the Franciszka & Stefan Themerson Exhibition Circle and Unity Theatre Trust
Franciszka (b. 1907, Warsaw) and Stefan Themerson (b. 1910, Płock) met in Warsaw in 1929 and married in 1931. In 1938 they moved to Paris and two days after the start of World War II, they volunteered for the Polish army. In 1940, Franciszka escaped by moving to London with the Polish government-in-exile. Stefan served briefly as a soldier in France, and was then stranded in a Polish red cross hostel near Grenoble. After two years of separation, they were reunited in London in 1942. Examples of their work can be seen in the public collections of the British Film Institute, British Museum, Imperial War Museum, Tate Britain, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Arts Council.
This exhibition has been organised in collaboration with Jasia Reichardt and Nick Wadley, who have maintained the Themerson Archive, now in the National Library in Warsaw.