Connect with us – Art History Stories

Immerse Yourself In The World Of the fantastic-realism paintings by Maria Anto

Women Artists

Immerse Yourself In The World Of the fantastic-realism paintings by Maria Anto

March = Women’s History Month, and this is the next story about a remarkable, contemporary artist named Maria Anto (Maria Czarnecka). Anto was a late 20th-century Polish painter who created a series of fantastic-realism paintings depicting animals, people and a world of surrealistic surroundings. Her pieces have been compared to artists such as Henri Rousseau, Giorgio de Chirico and Frida Kahlo. Until very recently there was an opportunity for the visual appreciation of her works at the Zachęta National Gallery in Warsaw (which ended February 4, 2018). It was the biggest showcase ever of her works from the 1960s and 1970s. While that exhibition is now over, stay with us to enter the make-believe world of Maria Anto.

Anto’s paintings are mostly characterized by dark colors illuminated by bright features. The scenes and their surroundings have mysterious auras, altogether creating something extraordinary: a marvelous combination of realism and surrealism, as realistic scenes are intertwined with magical effects and intricate details.

Two Marias (for Frida Kahlo), Maria Anto, 2001, The fantastic-realism paintings by Maria Anto, Location unknown

Two Marias (for Frida Kahlo), Maria Anto, 2001, location unknown (private collection?)

At the table, Maria Anto, 1986, The fantastic-realism paintings by Maria Anto, Location unknown

At the table, Maria Anto, 1986, location unknown (private collection?)

Anto also painted portraits of herself, her daughters and other members of the family. In addition, she is known for depicting animals like owls, cats or unicorns, both in a realistic and surrealist style, depending on the painting. The artist had experienced a great deal of trauma in her childhood, having been raised during World War 2, and this event had an impact on the art she created. Her paintings combine an original point of view and a bright imagination, tempered by a dose of negativity based on her early life experiences.

Owl, Maria Anto, 1969, Private Collection, The fantastic-realism paintings by Maria Anto

Owl, Maria Anto, 1969, Private Collection

The extravagant painter (during the darkest communist times she was driving a Jaguar on the narrow Polish roads) was known as an erudite and socialite who hosted anti-communist gatherings of dissidents and artists in her home and atelier, exhibited 70 times in her home country, was connected with the Cortina gallery in Milan, and in 1963 attended the Biennale in Sao Paulo, Brazil – no small feats for an artist based behind the Iron Curtain.

Although she did dedicate a lot of her time to art, she did not sacrifice any important matters in life because of it. She even once said: “The fact that I am a woman increases my possibilities when it comes to expression, but also involves more demands on my time and energy. I could not give up my home for painting. If I had no choice, I would stop painting (…)“.

Cat, Maria Anto, 1974, location unknown (private collection?)

Cat, Maria Anto, 1974, location unknown (private collection?)

Anto’s individual style is one of the most recognizable among Polish fantasy realism. Her art is often called “naïve” by critics, but that would appear to be a simplification and misinterpretation. In fact, her pieces are emotional and thought-through. It is worth delving deeper into her works to discover their true, optimistic yet sometimes haunting messages. Mario Anto, the painter who described her art as feminine, will be remembered for her own unique style, which can inspire us as a prime example of the fantastic-realistic school of painting. The artist died in 2007 and was buried in a family grave in Warsaw, Powązki.

Find out more:


is a fifth-year student towards her Master of Journalism degree, yet art has always been one of her biggest interests. She especially admires Impressionism, Postimpressionism as well as Realism. As a result, she can never get enough of museums, and therefore loves to travel the world.


More in Women Artists

  • I was a Rich Man's Plaything 1947 by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005 I was a Rich Man's Plaything 1947 by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005


    Painting of the Week: Eduardo Paolozzi, I was a Rich Man’s Plaything


    Eduardo Paolozzi’s 1947 collage I was a Rich Man’s Plaything, which can be seen in the Tate Modern in London, was one of the first works of Pop Art and even contains the word ‘POP!’ Eduardo Paolozzi was born in 1924 in Leith, a port in...

  • 20th century

    Black Is Beautiful: Kwame Brathwaite at the Skirball Center


    Let’s play a game: pick up any magazine from a U.S. newsstand and count how many people of color are featured. Now try playing with a magazine from the 1950’s. Depending on which magazine you chose, the difference may not be all that striking. But the...

  • Cubism

    Tarsila do Amaral: Joy Is the Decisive Test


    Tarsila do Amaral left behind 230 paintings, five sculptures, and hundreds of drawings, prints and murals. She led Brazilian art into modernism. In her home country, she is a household name.  She was a socialite, fashionista, divorcee, who lived how she wanted. She was adored and...

  • 20th century

    It’s Not Always What It Seems: The Fabulous Inventions of Panamarenko


    Panamarenko steals from science and uses it in his art. He has designed planes and submarines that at first sight are perfectly capable of functioning, but don’t be misled: they are unique works of art that should be admired, not used. The Inspiration Started with Choosing...

  • Lee Krasner Gaea Lee Krasner Gaea

    20th century

    Lee Krasner and the Art of Starting Over


    Lee Krasner’s name has become much more widely known in recent years. Often referred to as the wife of Jackson Pollock, she was, of course, a great artist in her own right. The Barbican Gallery in London is currently holding the biggest presentation of her work...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy