Zofia Rydet

b. 1911, Stanisławów, Poland
d. 1997, Gliwice, Poland

Zofia Rydet was born in Stanisławów. As a child, her father worked as a military judge and the family joined him on extensive travels through Poland. Rydet dreamed of studying painting but facing family opposition, enrolled in an agricultural college. She worked for Orbis Polish Travel Office, and by the early 1950s ran a stationery shop in Bytom. It was here, in 1950, that she made her first photographs, taking pictures of children seen through the shop window.

She joined the Gliwice Photographic Society in 1954 and met younger artists such as Jerzy Lewczyński and Piotr Janik. In 1961 Rydet had her first major exhibition of photographs, exhibiting the Little Man series of children taken in Poland and other socialist countries. In 1965 the works in this exhibition were collected into a book edited by Wojciech Zamecznik. The same year, she became a member of the Union of Polish Art Photographers, moved to Gliwice and began to teach photography in the architecture department at the Silesian Polytechnic.

In 1978, Rydet began her work on the Sociological Record, travelling and photographing in the summer, returning to her darkroom in her Gliwice flat in the winter.  The last of her large cycles was The Infinity of Distant Roads, begun in 1980, a “metaphysical narrative of life and the roads we have to take.” In the 1980s, she created the Silesian Suite of collages, composed from fragments of her earlier photographs.

Zofia Rydet died in Gliwice on August 24, 1997.