“State of play” (April 29 – August 7)
For thousands of years, objects have accompanied people and have been used in daily activities: we get up, we eat, we work, we play, we take care of ourselves, we sleep. Invented and produced by man, they determine the quality and comfort of our lives, they influence customs and rituals, and their possession defines social status.
The “State of Things” exhibition tells about the interpenetration of the world of people and objects. It is – as the curators announce – not only 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. The exhibition includes a selection of more than 200 of the most interesting and mysterious of them. They have been arranged in a system that matches the rhythm of a person’s day and night – from the morning toilet to the house routine for playing, resting and sleeping. In this way, the whole past of human culture and civilization – captured in everyday objects – was summed up in a single day.
The “State of Affairs” exhibition at the National Museum in Warsaw
The layout of the exhibition ignores all geographical, historical and ethnic constraints. Some of the monuments presented are separated by 40 centuries of history. The oldest is an Egyptian cosmetic grinder from the Middle Kingdom, the newest – a reel to reel recorder The concert from 1978. Refined and intricate objects belonging to wealthy bourgeois, aristocrats and rulers will be presented. You can see, among other things, miniature furniture for dollhouses, a leech jar, a bowler hat by Bronisław Krystall, decorative Japanese figurines, a set of finger molding devices for elegant ladies of the 20th century and an elaborate frame for a bouquet belonging to Eliza Orzeszkowa.
“Chagall” (April 30 – July 24)
The “Chagall” exhibition at the National Museum in Warsaw
The intimate exhibition includes 16 works by Marc Chagall from the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw. Last fall, the Museum purchased 14 works by the artist at an auction in Switzerland. The upcoming exhibition will be the first (and soon the only) opportunity for the public to see these works. The new acquisitions will be accompanied by two prints by Chagall from the Museum’s collections – due to the strict conservation requirements resulting from the sensitivity of the medium and the impermanence of the techniques, they cannot be exhibited permanently.
Few museums in Poland can boast of Chagall’s works. The National Museum in Krakow keeps five of the artist’s prints, and the National Museum in Lublin – two. The collection of the National Museum in Warsaw currently houses the largest collection of works by Chagall in our country.
The works purchased in 2021 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. Viewers will find biblical scenes (especially individually performed), 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. There are also two early works by Chagall (remaining in the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw from the 1970s). – illustrations for the artist’s autobiography “My Life” and for “Dead Souls” by Mikołaj Gogol.
Chagall’s characteristic style and the themes of his works developed in the 1920s. The artist often made reference to Judaism and Jewish culture, he painted 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. Always on the move Vitebsk, St. Petersburg, Paris, New York – Chagall’s creative life unfolded in various parts of the world. He was born in 1887 in Peskowatka, a poor suburb of Witebsk, 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.
Marc Chagall – “”My life” between Vitebsk and Paris” (1954)
Igor Oleś / National Museum in Warsaw
Chagall is one of the creators who, having developed their own style, developed it with various variations for the rest of their lives. It seems that the first period of the artist’s work, described in the autobiography “My Life”, to which the title of this work refers, was of decisive importance. The gouache shows how all of Chagall’s work stretches between the two most important places for him – the native town represented in the lower part of the drawing, with a domed synagogue surmounted by the Star of David and a cross, and Paris symbolized by the Eiffel Tower, as well as the tiny facade of Notre-Dame Cathedral. The crucified Christ hangs on the Eiffel Tower, in the background we see the artist with a paint palette. The composition is dominated by the second plane of the painter, represented in the company of Bella’s wife. The huge bouquet of flowers he is holding is a traditional symbol of gratitude to both cities.
Marc Chagall – “The Crucifixion” (1954–59)
Igor Oleś / National Museum in Warsaw
From 1950, Chagall created many works with religious themes, intended for the interior of various types of public buildings: synagogues, churches and secular buildings. He was an exception in this regard, because after the Second World War in Europe, as a rule, such works were not commissioned from offices or cultural institutions. The first illustrations of the Holy Scriptures were made by Chagall in the 1930s, on behalf of the art dealer, art collector and publisher Ambroise Vollard, in the etching technique. When Vollard died in a car accident in 1939, out of 105 planned engravings, only 66 were ready. The second set of illustrations for the Bible was made in lithographic technique. The graphics were printed by Fernand Mourlot editions and published by Tériade in addition to the Parisian magazine “Verve”. “Crucifixion”, like most of Chagall’s depictions of this type, combines Christian and Jewish themes. The figure of Moses with the tables of the Decalogue appears at the foot of the cross. One of the peculiarities of this gouache is the light in a fuchsia hue, turning purple in places, reminiscent of the glow of a fire or hot coals.