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October 20, 2021

The Direct Method of Wladyslaw T. Benda’s Masks

Benda’s preferred method according to Masks is surprising and quite different from the normal method. The “direct method” is to build the mask out of paper mâché from the edge of the mask to the tip of the nose directly, that is, without a mold of any kind. This process required holding the complete idea of the mask in mind before he began. An incredible feat of artistic achievement.

Wladyslaw Theodor Benda (January 15, 1873 – November 30, 1948), better known as W. T. Benda, was a Polish American artist active in the 1920s.

Benda studied art in Kraków, Pol., and in Vienna before coming to the United States in 1899. He settled in New York City, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1911. Benda’s illustrations were published in books and in a number of magazines. He is best remembered for his masks, which were used in theatre and dance performances throughout the world. Benda wrote the book Masks in 1944. And here, his direct method from the book:


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