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Little Man (1952-1963)

This was Rydet’s first photographic project. The themes of children, motherhood, and old age held a special place for the artist, who did not have children herself. These photographs were created in Poland and on many foreign trips: to Albania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Lebanon, and the Czech Republic. The degree to which Rydet managed to look at childhood without oversimplifying it is remarkable. In 1960, her first individual exhibition took place in Gliwice, presenting about 150 photographs of children from various parts of the world. The exhibition was a success, and was developed constantly over the following years, shown both in Poland and abroad. In 1965, Little Man was published as an album. Like Janusz Korczak, the author of the quotations contained in the publication, the artist saw the child as an autonomous agent whose life is as complex as that of adults. Korczak had been an early advocate of children’s rights, and at the same time an outstanding Polish teacher and a fervent humanist.

The cycle contains 15 series and the photographs in the album are arranged according to this key: Little Women, Between Us Men, Portent of Tomorrow, The Joy of Existence, Dramas, The World is Interesting, And Yet They Are Lonely, Feeling Safe, Meditations, We Watch You, Girls Make Faces, We Think and Work, First Friendship, The Perpetrators, My Gallery and the series Small Society additionally presented in the exhibition.

From the psychological observation of children, the first exhibition was born, followed by the album “Little Man”. I wanted to show a child with a whole range of experiences and reactions, rejecting the stereotype of an idyllic childhood. By means of appropriate sets, I wanted to talk about man, because, as Korczak said, everything that happens in the dirty world of adults also happens in the world of children. The main theme of the exhibition was: look for your own particle dormant in this other person’s child, maybe you will notice or even develop it.

Zofia Rydet … About my work.