Oskar Hansen

Hansen called Open Form a philosophy, a position that defined one‘s attitude toward reality. The concept, which referred to the theory of sculpture and architecture put forward by Katarzyna Kobro and Władysław Strzemiński, could be construed sociologically as a structure of space shaped by various types of human activities. Hansen always stressed the humanistic element in architecture, never the technological angle. He wrote, „Open Form is about variable compositions – the processes of life highlighted by backgrounds.“
He added, „The artistic convention of Open Form consists of shaping the cognitive space, which is construed as a background highlighting the ever-changing events in the life of nature and of man. The idea is to harmoniously integrate Earth‘s biological life forms with the space of human activity. Respecting the recipient‘s individuality, Open Space art creates a spatial atmosphere conducive to reflection, thus opposing the art of a dominant object in space – the cult of dogmatic dictates.“
With Open Form, Hansen encompassed the idea of environment art using the average man as its driving force. In his designs of housing estates, he treated each individual‘s activities in his own apartment as a spatial form, and outside of the apartment that form would become one of the elements in a visual polemic with other similar forms – all the results of human activity. The architect‘s or artist‘s role should be an auxiliary one, highlighting human activities in a process of change and transformation based on the different forms‘ legibility. Open Form, as Hansen described it, proposed parting ways with the model of the all-knowing expert; instead, it relied on the capacity of individuals, their mutual relations and the art of events. Open Form, Hansen believed, could become the „realism of our time“, the artist‘s role being to avert chaos while still respecting the „otherness“ of each individual. In order for the human activities of Open Form to be clear and communicative, Hansen emphasised the creative role of the individual as the co-author of space.
Hansen educated several generations of Polish sculptors, whom he endowed with the notion of space as a dynamic and socially-conditioned phenomenon. His teachings inspired artists such as Grzegorz Kowalski, Krzysztof M. Bednarski, Zofia Kulik and Przemysław Kwiek, as well as much younger artists who were influenced indirectly, including Katarzyna Kozyra, Paweł Althamer and Artur Żmijewski.