Symbolist landscapes, in-depth psychological portraits, and mythological scenes tell the story of a people without a nation, but with a rich culture and a complex history. With the exhibition Młoda Polska. Polish Fin de Siècle Art, Gothenburg Museum of Art presents an exhibition featuring several national icons from the golden age of Polish art around the turn of the century 1900. The catalouge gives in-dept knowledge of the cultural movement Młoda Polska where leading researches participates with newly written essays.
Młoda Polska (Young Poland) is the name of the artistic movement that marked the birth of Polish modernism. In Swedish art history, the nearest equivalent is the Opponents movement of the 1880s, but Młoda Polska had its own specific historical prerequisites. National identity and a longing for freedom were expressed symbolically. The historical background was the division of Poland in 1795 between Russia, Prussia, and Austria, to be united as a nation first in 1918.
The exhibition contributes to changing the writing of art history for the period around the turn of century 1900, which in the Nordic countries, as in the rest of Western world, is strongly focused on the art scene in Paris. Młoda Polska gives examples of similar waves of moving to Paris and then back to the home country again, but also other patterns and relations with Munich, England, Italy, and Saint Petersburg. In the context of the outstanding collection of Nordic Fin de Siècle art at Gothenburg Museum of Art, the exhibition shows art created in other parts of Europe at the same time period, and thus offers a complimentary view.
The exhibition catalogue contains three essays that both introduce Młoda Polska to a Nordic audience and contribute in-depth perspectives. Dr Agnieszka Morawińska, former Director of the National Museum in Warsaw, sheds light on the historical and cultural circumstances for Młoda Polska in her introductory essay, as well as looking back on nineteenth-century Polish history painting.
Dr Andrzej Szczerski, assistant professor at the Institute of Art History, Jagiellonian University in Kraków, highlights and discusses the importance of contacts between Młoda Polska and the art scene of other countries through living and studying abroad. Młoda Polska emerges as a truly international movement.
The Polish-Swedish art critic Joanna Persman reflects on the decadent, romantic, and even Satanist ideals that thrived in the milieu around Młoda Polska, not least around the writer Stanisław Przybyszewski and his followers, but also asks where the women in this narrative were.
In the introduction by the curators, earlier exhibitions and research is presented, and Młoda Polska is compared with Nordic art from the turn of the century 1900. In addition to these in-depth essays, there are shorter presentations that allow the reader to get to know the artists and their works.
Młoda Polska. Polish Fin de Siècle Art
Editor: Kristoffer Arvidsson, Eva Nygårds, Johan Sjöström
Author: Anna Hyltze, Kristoffer Arvidsson, Eva Nygårds, Johan Sjöström, Agnieszka Morawińska, Andrzej Szczerski and Joanna Persman
Graphic Design: Joakim Bergkvist and Jussi Öhrvall
Paperback 228 pages
Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg 2018
Price: 225 SEK
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