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This page was created thanks to cooperation with Muzeum Okręgowe w Nowym Sączu

The text below thank the courtesy of Mr. Zbigniew Wolanin, curator Nikifor’s  Museum in Krynica-Zdrój

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Nikifor 1895-1968


Nikifor is one of the most fascinating figures in 20th century European art.

An ethnic Lemko from Krynica,  a street painter. His real name was Drowniak, but he usually signed his works with “NIKIFOR – PAINTER – NIKIFOR THE ARTIST”.  He had limited communication skills, could neither read nor write and spoke with difficulty in both Lemko and Polish.

Nikifor’s lifelong emotional attachment to Krynica and Lemkivshchyna, where he worked, made it virtually impossible for him to live elsewhere. Lemkivshchyna and Beskid Mountains were also the main source of inspiration for his artistic creation . Although his great talent as a painter had first been remarked by the artistic community before the Second World War, it was only in the late fifties that he gained recognition and managed to make ends meet after years of life in poverty.

Nikifor used to set up his modest art workshop in different locations in Krynica: on park benches, on low stone walls or directly on the pavement, in the lively parts of town. For decades his favourite workshop was a small stone wall in Puławski Street, beside New Mineral Spa (Nowe łazienki Mineralne).

Nikifor was an artist with a sense of mission and art was his sole  occupation. It is estimated he painted tens of thousands of pictures, a great part of which had been destroyed before he was recognized as an artist.

Nikifor mainly painted in watercolour technique  and  his interwar watercolour paintings  are widely valued as the best among his works. Later he also used  gouache and coloured pencils. The pencil drawings are mostly sketches he had made in his last years and never had time to fill with colour.

Now Nikifor is a part of art history in Poland and the world-famous artist. His works are displayed  in many museums and art galleries  in Poland and across the world. He is acknowledged, together with the influential French artist Henri Rousseau, as the most outstanding painter of what is called naïve art.

Although Nikifor became famous in the last phase of his life, fame did not affect his lifestyle - he remained a street artist in Krynica until the end.


The Nikifor Museum  in Romanówka Villa in Krynica-Zdroj  was founded in 1995.

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