The first presentation of works by Chagall, purchased for the National Museum in Warsaw in 2021, and an exhibition of objects from various eras, cultures, parts of the world accompanying man on a daily basis – these are the new proposals of the program linked to the 160th anniversary of the National Museum in Warsaw.
“Chagall is, after Picasso, the second most recognizable artist of the 20th century,” said director Gaweł, referring to the second exhibition. According to him, the “Chagall” exhibition magnificently condenses all the traces of the work of the artist, whose destiny was marked by the experiences of Soviet Russia and the Second World War. Reading the biography and the work of the painter in the context of the tragic Ukrainian war, one can hope that the Second World War will finally come to an end, that the evil that has flooded Europe will pass, that the belief that the man is good will come back,” said Łukasz Gaweł, director of this institution, during Wednesday’s conference at the National Museum in Warsaw.
The intimate exhibition of works by Marc Chagall (1887-1985) purchased for the Museum’s collection in the fall of 2021 includes 16 works. This is an unprecedented purchase in the history of Polish museology. At the exhibition, the new acquisitions will be accompanied by two prints by Chagall from the former collections of the National Museum in Warsaw, which currently houses the largest collection of works by Chagall in our country. All the works presented at the exhibition are works on paper, combining various techniques.
The exhibited works are examples of the artist’s mature creativity. They were created in the 1960s and 1970s, during the heyday of drawing and graphic design in Western Europe. They represent a variety of techniques: gouache, tempera, pencil, colored pencil and ink, and even pastel. They show – as the curator Dr. Anna Manicka describes – the typical motifs of Chagall’s art: biblical scenes, interpreted in a particular and individual way, couples in love, bouquets of flowers, animals.
There are also references to the artist’s childhood, several drawings are dedicated to his feelings with his family. The works delight with bright colors and an unusual dreamlike atmosphere, combining real and fantastic elements. Chagall’s style and the themes of his works developed in the 1920s. The artist often makes reference to Judaism and Jewish culture, he paints loving couples, animals and flowers. Later in his work, the repertoire of his favorite themes expanded to include themes related to Christianity. Chagall was Jewish, but he was always fascinated by Catholicism, in particular by the figure of Christ. After the Second World War, he uses drawing and graphics more often and more willingly than before, and he also likes to create stained glass.
Vitebsk, St. Petersburg, Paris, New York – these are the places where the life of the artist took place. He was born in 1887 in Peskowatka, a poor suburb of Vitebsk, to a Hasidic Jewish family. He was the eldest of nine children. He was educated in St. Petersburg, but his art studies in Paris and contact with the environment of the School of Paris had the greatest influence on his art. There he familiarized himself with cubism and futurism. The last years of the artist’s life include numerous trips through Europe. During World War II, Chagall immigrated to the United States and settled in New York.
The experiences of Communism and Nazism are reflected in his later works. In 1948, he returned to France, and in 1966 he settled permanently in Saint-Paul-de-Vence near Nice. Chagall’s main language was Yiddish. The painter, although he spent more than half a century in France, never completely mastered French. He didn’t know Hebrew well, nor did he speak English. His painting makes reference to Hasidic expressions and metaphors. One of them was the term for dreamers, thoughtful, cloud-floating people, who in Yiddish were called Luftmensch, “the man of the air.” Many of these figures populate Chagall’s paintings or hover above the roofs of the shtetls he painted.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication and a rich educational programme. The exhibition is placed under the Honorary Patronage of the Vice-President of the Council of Ministers, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, prof. Piotr Glinski.
The second exhibition of the National Museum in Warsaw, “State of Affairs”, presents objects that have accompanied people for thousands of years and are used in daily activities. “We get up, eat, work, play, heal, sleep. Invented and made by man, they determine the quality and comfort of our lives, they influence habits and rituals, and make them define our social status” – describes the exhibition by its curator, Grażyna Bastek, who, together with Monika Janisz, prepared the exhibition.
“+ The state of affairs + – a beautiful, funny and wise exhibition is a tribute to the workers of the museum” – said director Łukasz Gaweł. “The museologists who prepare the exhibitions, we do not see each other, we do not meet, and they decide what will remain in the museum’s collection for years, and therefore in our memory. They, by conserving and describing the collections – just like the people of Macondo from +One Hundred Years of Solitude+Marquez who, losing their memories, described objects to save them from oblivion – they save the memory of things that were commonly used until recently, things essentials of which often little is known about their fate “- noted director Gaweł.
“State of Things” tells about the interpenetration of the world of people and objects. It will not only be a panorama of forgotten things and human habits, but also a wide presentation of monuments from different eras, cultures and parts of the world, collected by the Museum during its 160 years of existence – emphasize its authors.
There are approximately 830,000 works of art in the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw. These include painting, sculpture, drawings and engravings, photographs, numismatics, as well as examples of ancient craftsmanship and contemporary design. The exhibition “State of Things” will present a selection of more than 200 of the most interesting and mysterious of them. The objects in the exhibition have been arranged in an order that corresponds to the rhythm of day and night of a human being – from the morning toilet, through the routine of the house, to play, rest and sleep. . In this way, the whole past of human culture and civilization, captured in everyday objects, is summed up in one day.
Some of the monuments presented are separated by 40 centuries of history. The oldest is the Middle Kingdom Egyptian cosmetic grinder, the newest – the Concert reel tape recorder from 1978.
The exhibition presents refined and elaborate objects that belonged to wealthy townspeople, aristocrats and rulers. You will be able to see, among other things, miniature furniture for dollhouses, a leech jar, a bowler hat by famous patron Bronisław Krystall, Japanese decorative figurines, a set of finger molding devices for elegant ladies of the 20th century and an exquisite bouquet frame owned by Eliza Orzeszkowa.
The “State of Things” exhibition will be open to the public from April 28 to August 7, 2022 (PAP)