160 years ago, the Museum of Fine Arts was established in Warsaw. Initially, it was located in the main school buildings and was closely associated with the School of Fine Arts, since it was established by the Public Education Act of the Kingdom of Poland on May 20, 1862. It regulated the state of educational and cultural institutions in the Russian section. The main objective of the museum was the collections aimed primarily at the education of Polish artists. However, it was also scheduled to be open to the public. The museum had to wait dozens of years to get a decent seat. He found it in a modern building designed by Tadeusz Tołwiński. The building allows for an adequate display of artwork. Of these, the National Museum in Warsaw today houses about 830,000 people. They include painting, sculpture, drawings, engravings, photographs, and coinage items, as well as items in applied arts and design. They can be admired not only in the main building of Aleje Jerozolimskie, but also in its branches: the Poster Museum in Wilanów, the Museum of Sculpture. Xawery Dunikowski in Królikarnia, the Indoor Museum in Otwock Wielki, and the Museum in Nieborów and Arkadia.
A show like a circus show
In one of the branches of the museum, in Krolikarnia, a very interesting exhibition entitled “Circus” aimed at adults and children was opened. It has a circus performance structure. After the introduction, i.e. Entrée, where the viewer will see works of art presenting the history of the modern circus and its representatives, in the following halls (Voltażerka, Peculiar, Clown Intermezzo, Rope Dancer, Kulisy) he will get acquainted with the different faces of the circus. It is not only cheerful, shown to the audience, but also behind the scenes, often characterized by suffering. The highlight of the gallery is a circus tent, or shapito, arranged in the palace’s rotunda. Here you can watch the extraordinary film directed by Jean Benelev “Le Grand Cirque Calder 1927” for the first time in Poland. The title “The Great Circus” is actually a circus of miniature figures, animated by Alexander Calder (1898–1976), an American sculptor and pioneer of kinetic art.
More than 150 works dedicated to the circus
In the Królikarnia Gallery you can see – until October 2, 2022 – more than 150 works on circus themes: paintings, sculptures, photographs, posters, drawings and sketches. These are works by artists such as: Roman Cieślewicz, Paul Klee, Ferdynand Léger, Jan Lenica, Leopold Lewicki, Max Liebermann, Jan Młodożeniec, Tymon Niesiołowski, Teresa Pągowska, Pablo Picasso, Henryk Tomaszewó Wojtkewerski. The works on display from the 19th and 20th centuries on display are accompanied by works by contemporary artists. Everyone was fascinated by this kind of art that allows to transcend human potential. Most of the pieces come from the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw, some have been loaned from the national museums in Krakow, Pozna and Wroclaw, from the National Library, University Library of Warsaw, from Les Documents Cinématographiques in Paris and from Julinek Park – one of the largest circus art centers in Europe, There is the only permanent exhibition in Poland devoted to the role and history of the circus.
200 confusing things
Such exhibitions – like “circus” – can appeal to everyone, because they can be perceived at different levels of intellectual commitment. The same can be said for the State of Things exhibition in the main building, which will run until August 7. It must have been difficult to choose among several hundred thousand exhibits in the museum, the most interesting 200, which speak of human customs throughout history, in different parts of the world. An interesting formula was chosen. The items in the gallery are organized in a system that corresponds to the rhythm of day and night of the human being – from the morning toilet, to the routine of the house, to play, rest and sleep. In this way, the entire past of human culture and civilization, recorded in everyday objects, was summed up in one day. The exhibition design ignores geographical, historical and ethnic constraints. Some of the artifacts on display are separated by forty centuries of history. The oldest Egyptian cosmetics mill from the Middle Kingdom, and the most recent – the 1978 music tape recorder.
In praise of ingenuity
Who knows today what parura, lizeska, egret, szatlenka or robdeszan is? Meanwhile, it was hard to do without these things. State of Affairs exhibits the refined and intricate elements of wealthy city dwellers, aristocrats, and rulers. You can see, among other things a jar of leeches, a collection of finger molding devices for elegant twentieth-century ladies, an elaborate place for a bouquet of Eliza Orzeszkowa or scandals – bed heaters like pans. These things survived because they were hard made. Therefore, the gallery is a praise of traditional and meticulous craftsmanship, as it has been replaced by cheap and less durable mass production. Draws attention to the issue of consumption and human responsibility for created things. It raises questions about the quality and durability of the things we use today, as well as their reusability.
Both “The Circus” and “The State of Things” are taking place as part of the 160th anniversary of the National Museum in Warsaw. On this occasion, the first presentation of several works of Marc Chagall, which were bought at an auction in Switzerland in the fall of 2021, was also organized. The purchase, unprecedented in the history of Polish museology, was made thanks to funds from the budget reserve of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. , provided as a special purpose subsidy by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Prof. Dr. Hub. Piotr Gliński. It is currently the largest collection of Chagall’s works in Poland. It is worth seeing it in this Chagall exhibition in the main building, which will run until July 24, 2022. Due to the sensitivity of the paper substrate and the impermanence of the techniques used by the artist, it is not possible to permanently display it.
The works displayed in the gallery were created in the 1960s and 1970s, 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 in it motifs characteristic of Chagall’s art: biblical scenes (interpreted individually, combining Christian and Jewish motifs), couples in love, flower bouquets, animals. There are also references to the artist’s childhood, and several drawings dedicated to his feelings with his family. The works are delightful with bright colors and dream-like ambiance, a mixture of real and fantastic elements.
Not only exhibitions
Exhibits are only part of the anniversaries. On the birthday holiday of May 21-22, 2022, the museum has prepared several attractions. There was an opportunity for a souvenir photo in the company of figures of works of art, meetings with collectors, city tours and concerts were organized. The selected events have been translated into Ukrainian and Polish sign language.
The second half of the jubilee year is ahead. More temporary exhibitions await us, including – from July – Witkacy’s works from the museum’s collection, and in the fall an exhibition of coins, medals, and “Solstice. Nordic painting 1880-1910”. The hundreds of thousands of people who visit the Museum each year will soon experience many experiences resulting from contact with various fields of art.