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Travel Tip: Art and Archaeology in Austria
The New State

L. Slendzinski: Portrait Helen Dobrowolskiej, 1926, kat. 246 • Photo courtesy of Leopold Museum  • 
L. Slendzinski: Portrait Helen Dobrowolskiej, 1926, kat. 246
Photo courtesy of Leopold Museum
The New State: Polish Art between Experiment and Representation
VIENNA  •  Leopold Museum  •  Ongoing
Within the framework of the "Polish Year in Austria 2002" the Leopold Museum is presenting an exhibition of Polish artworks dating from the period between 1918 and 1939. On view are selected works of classical modernism, including painting, sculpture and drawing.

The exhibition focuses on the period between the wars, when Poland became independent as the democratic Second Republic after 123 years of annexation by Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Starting in 1918, a so-called "new state" formed on the Baltic Sea. The following decade was marked by great enthusiasm and a particular dynamic in many aspects of life in the young democracy. The exhibition illustrates the political and social transformations involved in the establishment of the newly independent Polish state and demonstrate the new roles and tasks that artists and art took on in the process of consolidating the new country's competing and diverging energies.

"Art and politics" - a phenomenon whose importance is now increasing again in the Western democracies in the wake of the technologisation of communication - the current example is the eleventh Documenta in Kassel, the largest exhibition of contemporary art world-wide. For the exhibition The New State, the largest Polish national museums in Warsaw, Cracow, Posen, Kattowitz and Wroclaw as well as the art museum in Lodz have agreed to provide works on loan.

A central position in the exhibition is occupied by the works and theoretical writings of the artist, logician and philosopher Leon Chwistek (Cracow 1884 – Moscow 1944). In 1918, Chwistek, who is nowadays hardly known outside Poland, proposed the theory of the "plurality of realities in art" as a reaction against the dualistic model of the first avant-garde. During the following period, in various interdisciplinary discussions about art, mathematics, poetry, architecture and politics, he argued against agitprop and the missionary stance of the avant-garde, in favour of an open, modern and transnational society. In art, Chwistek promulgated the theory of Strefism (Polish: Strefizm), according to which a graphic surface is constructed by means of colours and shapes arranged in contrasting zones. Chwistek's approach produced both radical and oppositional reactions. One of the most well-known of these responses was the public polemic with the protagonist of "pure form", the artist, philosopher and playwright Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (Warsaw 1885 – Jeziory 1939).

Works by the following artists and others are on view: Maria Nicz Borowiakowa (1896-1944), Leon Chwistek (1884-1944), Jan Cybis (1897-1972), Leopold Gottlieb (1879-1934), Tadeusz Gronowski (1894-1990), Gustaw Gwozdecki (1880-1935), Roman Kramsztyk (1885-1942), Katarzyna Kobro (1898-1951), Henryk Kuna (1879-1945), Rafal Malczweski (1892-1965), Bronislaw Wojciech Linke (1906-1962), Zbigniew Pronaszko (1885-1958), Wladyslaw Skoczylas (1883-1934), Ludomir Slendzinski (1889-1980), Wladyslaw Strzeminski (1893-1952), Zygmunt Waliszewski (1897-1936), Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy) (1885-1939), Edward Wittig (1879-1941).

Leopold Museum Web Site

Contact: Tel: (43) 1 525 70 - 0

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