Stanisław Szukalski (1893--1987) was a Polish-born painter and sculptor. He also developed the pseudoscientific-historical theory of Zermatism, positing that all human culture was derived from post-deluge Easter Island and that mankind was locked in an eternal struggle with the Sons of Yeti ("Yetinsyny"), the offspring of Yeti and humans. He illustrated this theory in his works.
Szukalski immigrated to the United States in his teens, where he joined the arts scene in Chicago. Ben Hecht, who knew Szukalski in the 1920s, described him in his 1954 autobiography A Child of the Century as starving, muscular, aristocratic and disdainful of lesser beings than himself—traits Szukalski retained for the rest of his life. In 1929 was a founder of an artistic movement called Tribe of the Horned Heart (Szczep Rogate Serce) - centered on Polish artists who sought inspiration in the pagan or pre-Christian history of Poland. Szukalski returned to Poland in 1934, when the government proclaimed him their "Greatest Living Artist" and built the Szukalski National Museum to house his works. In 1939, the Nazi Siege of Warsaw resulted in the destruction of the museum and his life's work. Szukalski moved to Southern California, where he languished in obscurity, supporting himself by drawing maps for an aerospace company.
In 1971, Glenn Bray, a publisher who had previously specialized in the work of Mad Magazine artist Basil Wolverton, befriended him and later published one book of Szukalski's art, Inner Portraits (1980), and another of his art and philosophy, A Trough Full of Pearls / Behold! The Protong (1982). Bray and his wife Lena Zwalve maintain Szukalski's estate and the great bulk of his existing art under the name "Archives Szukalski."
Zermatism, Szukalski's concept of world history, postulated that all human culture derived from post-deluge Easter Island and that in all human languages one can find traces of the original, ancient mother-tongue of mankind. In his view, humanity was locked in an eternal struggle with the Sons of Yeti ("Yetinsyny"), the offspring of Yeti and humans, who had enslaved humanity from time immemorial. Szukalski used his considerable artistic talents to illustrate his theories, which, despite their lack of scientific merit, have gained a cult following largely on their aesthetic value. The irony of this would have likely infuriated the hyper-curmudgeonly Szukalski. Among Szukalski's admirers are Leonardo DiCaprio, who sponsored a retrospective exhibition entitled "Struggle" at the Laguna Art Museum in 2000, the Church of the SubGenius, which incorporates the Yetinsyny elements of Zermatism, and the band Tool, who recommended "any collection of works you can find by this man is well worth the effort".
Szukalski's works are on permanent display at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago, as well as at the Polish National Museum in Warsaw. In addition to the Laguna retrospective, notable exhibitions of his work include "The Self-Born" at Varnish Fine Art, San Francisco, in 2005 and "Mantong and Protong," where Szukalski is paired with another unorthodox theorist of earth history, Richard Sharpe Shaver, at Pasadena City College in 2009.
Following Szukalski's death in 1987, a group of his admirers spread his ashes on Easter Island, in the rock quarry of Rano Raraku.
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