Wojciech Fangor was born on November 15, 1922 in Warsaw. During WWII he studied privately with the renown painters Tadeusz Pruszkowski and Felicjan Szczęsny Kowarski. He graduated in 1946 from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts (ASP) where he later taught from 1953 till 1961. His main medium was painting, but he also worked with drawing, graphics, sculpture and public commissions, making his debut in 1949 with an exhibition of cubist landscapes and portraits. He gained popularity during the Social-Realistc period creating iconic works such as “Postacie” (“Figures”) (1950), “Matka Koreanka” (“Korean Mother”) (1951). Fangor was also one of the founders of the celebrated Polish Poster School.

The period of ideological and artistic reassessment resulted in Fangor’s groundbraking work “Studium Przestrzeni” (“Study of Space”) that he made in 1958 in collaboration with the architect Stanisław Zamecznik. This work has been broadly considered as the first environment ever: a form of art, in which the work expands into a physical space beyond the pictorial surface in order to engage with the viewer. This work prompted interest from Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where Fangor’s exhibition “Color in Space” followed in 1959. Fangor’s ideas about space and spacial relations materialized in his seemingly borderless abstract paintings pulsating with colors that paved the way to his body of work that was often categorized as Optical Abstraction, although he himself preferred to speak about works addressing “positive illusionary space”. In 1965 Fangor was invited to participate in the travelling exhibition “The Responsive Eye”, curated by William Seitz at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which, in hindsight, was the defining moment of international Op Art.

During 1961–1966 Fangor lived and worked in Western Europe (Berlin, Bath, London and Paris). He was receipient of the prestigious Ford Foundation fellowship in West Berlin designed for outstanding international artists and in 1965 participated in the DAAD residency program in the city. This enabled him to study abstraction further but also get accquinted with new developments with the medium painting in the Western world. He shortly lived in Bath where he taught at the Bath Academy of Arts in Corsham, UK (1965–1966) and in Paris. Around that time Fangor exhibited in German galleries and institutions.

In 1966 Fangor emigrated to USA and in 1967 started to work with the Gallery Chalette that helped establishing his reputation among American collectors and museums. He taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ, USA (1967 – 1983) and was lecturer at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA (1967–1968). In 1970 Fangor’s pulsating abstract paintings, invading the physical space of the viewer, earned him a solo exhibition at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Curated by Margit Rowell and Thomas M. Messer, this mid-career survey was an astonishing achievement for an immigrant artist who had arrived in New York only four years prior.

After 1970 Fangor gradually abandoned abstraction. In 1973 he collaborated with the Martha Graham Dance Company in New York, for which he had designed stage sets for its ballet “Mendicants of Evening”. It is possible that this collaboration triggered Fangor’s interest in investigating the complex psychological and formal relationships between people, where space, again, plays a main role as a connecting and dividing element. Its result, the cycle “Interfacial Spaces” (1975–1976) formed a breakthrough moment of his return to representational painting.

Between 1977 and 1984 Fangor worked (not exclusively) on the so-called “Television Paintings” in his studio in Manhattan. As several artists in that period, he was fascinated by the omnipresence of TV, its strong influence on people and its aesthetics. In his TV Paintings Fangor analyzed simultaneous realities offered by TV, again, using various formal effects to create the special relationship between the viewer and his works.

In 1989 Fangor moved to Santa Fe where he continued painting figuratively, focusing on all kind of socio-cultural phenomena around him. In this period, he painted among others the cycles of “Indian Chiefs” and “Polish Kings” and pursued relentlessly his broad artistic interests.

In 1990 the exhibition “Wojciech Fangor. 50 Years of Painting” at the Zachęta State Gallery of Art in Warsaw, inaugurated the return of Fangor’s work to Polish exhibition halls. In 1999 he returned to Poland. In June 2002 he had a retrospective exhibition at the BWA Contemporary Art Gallery in Katowice and in 2003, at the Center for Contemporary Art at Zamek Ujazdowski in Warsaw. At this time, he created paintings that explored time and space in the image and cultural context, forms and artistic experiences. These works were presented in the 2005 “Exhibition of the Exhibition” at the Center of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko. It was a time of references to discoveries and theories from nearly fifty years ago, a time of artistic reflection on memory and the palimpsestic character of culture. The artist filled the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century with work on the Artistic Project of the 2nd line of the Warsaw Metro.

Wojciech Fangor died on 25 of October, 2015 in Józefów near Warsaw and is buried at the Cmentarz Wojskowy cemetery in Warsaw.