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Jozef Szajna Edit Profile

designer , director , painter

Set designer, theatre director, playwright, theatre theoretician, painter and graphic artist. Szajna was a prisoner at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during the World War II occupation of Poland, an experience that strongly influenced his art.


He obtained degrees in graphic design (1952) and set design (1953) from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, where he began teaching in 1954 immediately after completing his studies; he stayed on as an instructor for the next nine years. In 1972 he became a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, where he remained until his death in 2008 as head of the set design studio. However, he was still professionally active as an artist throughout this period. Between 1955 and 1963 he designed sets for productions like Myszy i ludzie / Of Mice and Men, based on the novel of the same title by John Steinbeck, and Dziady / Forefather's Eve by Mickiewicz. Until 1966, he acted as the managing director and artistic director of the Teatr Ludowy (People's Theatre) in Nowa Huta, where he also directed a series of plays. He also worked with the Stary Teatr (Old Theatre) in Cracow, the **in:Teatr śląski*in_te_slaski_katowice** (Silesian Theatre) in Katowice, the Teatr Współczesny (Contemporary Theatre) in Wroclaw and the Teatr Polski (Polish Theatre) in Warsaw. In 1971 he created the Teatr-Galeria (Theatre Gallery) at Warsaw's Centrum Sztuki Studio (Studio Centre for the Arts - formerly the Teatr Klasyczny / Classical Theatre). There, he tested out his own educational theories through his singular method of popularizing various artistic genres – primarily through theatre, but also through other artistic approaches. He resigned the directorship of the Centre ten years later when martial law was declared in Poland.


  • International Association Society Europ+?ene de Culture

  • Art-AIAP (United Nations Educational) (honorary counsellor 1979 for Leonardo da Vinci world award - Mexico)

  • International Council Auschwitz-Birkenau.