English Section

Exhibition showcases communist-era Polish art and design

17.11.2023 13:30
The National Museum in Kraków, southern Poland, is hosting an exhibition on communist-era Polish art and design, showcasing a diverse collection of some 360 items from various domains of life.
The National Museum in Kraków, southern Poland.
The National Museum in Kraków, southern Poland.Photo: PAP/Łukasz Gągulski

The exhibition, called Rationed Modernity: Modernism in Communist-Era Poland, is segmented into five distinct parts, each highlighting a different aspect of Polish modernism of the communist era.

The exhibits range from impactful artworks reflecting post-World War II influences to expressions of ideology, ephemeral modernist projects, and ordinary items showing how Poles lived under communism.

The museum, on its website, defined the central theme of the show as "not presented ... in terms of the contest between artists and the political authorities for artistic freedom. In a metaphorical shortcut, rationing means limitations of various nature: an impoverished selection of action options, activity variants, inspirations, and ways of implementation."

The exhibition, curated by Andrzej Szczerski and Piotr Juszczkiewicz, is divided into several interrelated sections. The first of those, "Form and War," delves into the aftermath of World War II, showcasing works by artists like painter Andrzej Wróblewski and architect Oskar Hansen, who interpreted the war's impact on modernist ideas.

"Form and Ideology," the second part, examines the evolving reactions of artists to the government's diminishing insistence on adherence to official ideology. Featured creators in this section include sculptor Xawery Dunikowski and fiber artist Magdalena Abakanowicz.

The intriguing "Phantom Modernism" section displays a variety of  artistic and technical projects which had little to no presence in the everyday lives of Polish citizens – demonstrating how regulation led to a loss of numerous opportunities in the arts.

"Licensed Modernism" focuses on the developmental gap between communist-era Poland and Western Europe, highlighting attempts to bridge this divide through technology imports and licensed production agreements. Usually hailed by the authorities as major achievements at the time, such licensing agreements were, frequently, poor investments in already obsolete designs.

The final part, "Everyday Modernism," offers a window into daily life in the communist era, featuring works related to communication and clothing from artists like Władysław Hasior and Edward Dwurnik.

This third installment in a series of four shows dedicated to the history of Polish modernism in architecture and design offers a glimpse into the interplay between artistic creativity and political constraints during the communist era.

The exhibition showcases a rich collection of modernist art and design and invites viewers to reconsider the communist period from a new perspective, by highlighting the creative resilience of artists working under restrictive conditions.

Rationed Modernity: Modernism in Communist-Era Poland is open to visitors at the National Museum in Kraków, starting this Friday.


Source: PAP