“State of Affairs” and “Chagall”. Warsaw National celebrates its 160th anniversary. Two new exhibitions

“Status” (April 29 – August 7)

For thousands of years, objects have accompanied people and are used in daily activities: we wake up, eat, work, play, recover and sleep. Invented and produced by man, they determine the quality and comfort of our lives, influence customs and rituals, and their possession determines social status.

The exhibition “The State of Things” tells about the penetration of the world of people and things. It is – as the curators declare – not only a panorama of forgotten objects and human customs, but also an extensive display of antiquities from different eras, cultures and parts of the world, collected by the Museum over the 160 years of its existence. The exhibition includes a selection of more than 200 of the most interesting and mysterious. They are arranged in a system that matches the rhythm of the day and night of the person – from the morning toilet to the routine of the house for playing, resting and sleeping. In this way, the entire past of human culture and civilization – captured in everyday objects – was summed up in one day.

Photo: Bartosz Bajerski/National Museum in Warsaw

State of the matter exhibition at the National Museum in Warsaw

The exhibition design ignores all geographical, historical and ethnic constraints. Some of the artifacts on display are separated by forty centuries of history. Oldest Egyptian cosmetic mill from the Middle Kingdom, newer – reel recorder for a 1978 party reel. Polished and intricate objects belonging to burghers, aristocrats, and wealthy rulers will be served. You will be able to see, among others, miniature dollhouse furniture, an urn for leeches, a bowler hat by Bronisław Krystall, ornate Japanese figurines, a set of finger forming devices for elegant 20th century ladies, and an elaborate setting for a bouquet by Eliza Orzeszkowa.

Chagall (April 30 – July 24)

Photo: Bartosz Bajerski/National Museum in Warsaw

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 bought 14 of the artist’s works at an auction in Switzerland. The upcoming exhibition will be the audience’s first (and next time – the only) opportunity to see these works. The new acquisitions will accompany two editions of Chagall from the Museum’s collections – due to stringent preservation requirements resulting from substrate sensitivity and impermanence of techniques, they cannot be permanently displayed.

Few museums in Poland can boast of Chagall’s work. The National Museum in Krakow holds five prints of the artist, and the National Museum in Lublin – two. The collection of the National Museum in Warsaw currently includes the largest collection of Chagall’s works in our country.

Works purchased in 2021 are examples of the mature creativity of the artist. They were created in the 60s and 70s, during the heyday of painting and graphics in Western Europe. They represent a variety of techniques: gouache, tempera, crayons, colored pencil and ink, and even pastel. Viewers will find biblical scenes (special, individually interpreted), couples in love, bouquets of flowers, animals. There are also references to the artist’s childhood, and several drawings dedicated to his feelings with his family. There are also two early works by Chagall (surviving in the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw from the 1970s). – Biographical illustrations for “My Life” and “Dead Souls” by Mikołaj Gogol.

Chagall’s distinctive style and themes developed in the 1920s, and the artist often referred to Judaism and Jewish culture, and painted couples in love, animals, and flowers. Later in his work, his repertoire of favorite subjects expanded to include those related to Christianity.

Chagall was a Jew, but he had always been fascinated by Catholicism, especially the figure of Christ. After World War II, he used drawing and graphics more often and with more will than before, and he also enjoyed making stained glass. Always on the go in Vitebsk, Saint Petersburg, Paris, New York – Chagall’s creative life has been spent in different parts of the world. He was born in 1887 in Piskoatka, a poor suburb of Witebsk, into a Hasidic Jewish family. He was the eldest of nine children. He was educated in Saint Petersburg, but his art studies in Paris and his contact with the Paris school environment had the greatest influence on his art. There he learned about cubism and futurism. The subsequent years of the artist’s life include many travels around Europe. During World War II, Chagall immigrated to the United States and settled in New York. The experiences of communism and Nazism were reflected in his later works. In 1948 he returned to France, and in 1966 he settled permanently in Saint-Paul-de-Vence near Nice.

Opisy poniżej pochodzą z Muzeum Narodowego w Warszawie. 

Marc Chagall – “My Life” between Vitebsk and Paris (1954)
Marc Chagall – “The Crucifixion” (1954–59)

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