Photographer Unknown. © Franciszka Themerson

PEER REVIEW Artist William Cobbing on painter, publisher—and family friend—Franciszka Themerson.

PEER REVIEW Artist William Cobbing on painter, publisher—and family friend—Franciszka Themerson.

I first came across the beguiling drawings of Polish-British artist Franciszka Themerson (1907–1988) when archiving the collection of my grandfather, the poet and publisher Bob Cobbing.1 

To help give context to the collection of drawings and photographs, I contacted her niece, the esteemed writer and curator Jasia Reichardt, who had completed archiving Themerson’s works. Over conversations at her house, I grew more familiar with Themerson—not least through the paintings on the walls. Untitled—Multi figure (1972/3), hung above the staircase, is typical of the artist’s work: a compound figure, a body sprouting from the head, a smaller figure superimposed on the torso, sparsely painted with a visceral energy. 

Similarly composed figures, albeit drawn in a more lyrical, linear ...

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