Great Names

Great Names.
Polish Art of the 20th Century in the Collection of the
Nicolaus Copernicus Museum in Frombork

temporary exhibition 2020-2021
Former Bishops’ Palace (Main Building)

wielkie nazwiska

Strange, beautiful, shocking, hideous, puzzling, confusing, and even disturbing. The art of the 20th century still evokes strong emotions. It is the subject of disputes and extreme assessments by the audience.

The exhibition presents the works of outstanding and respected artists of the Polish art of the 20th century, the so-called classics of modern art as well as pioneers of the contemporary art. Aesthetics, the form of artistic expression, and the techniques of works are very diverse, just as the art of the 20th century was multiform and multifaceted. This collection is quite special (due to the thematic selection of museum exhibits) and it seems that the only criterion connecting all the presented works is the time of their creation. However, it perfectly shows the twentieth-century spirit of pluralism.

The twentieth century was a turbulent time in the history of Europe, including Poland, a time of violent social and political changes, technological development, and the era of two great world wars. New directions in art appeared with unprecedented force and frequency, from the revolutionary works of the Impressionists and Expressionists through the development of abstract art and the avant-garde, to the collapse of the so-far existing notion of beauty in art and the range of reactions and forms of expression that were to be adequate to the experiences of the war.

Polish art of the 20th century was intertwined with the history of the country and participated in its transformations, hence in Poland changes came a bit later. World-class works were however created, and the artists actively participated in creating avant-garde artistic trends.

With this exhibition, we would like to remind the visitors that the Nicolaus Copernicus Museum is not only about objects strictly related to Nicolaus Copernicus. The collections, apart from monuments related to the great astronomer, objects from the history of medicine, astronomy, numismatics, and collections of historical arts and crafts, also include modern and contemporary art, representative works of outstanding and recognized artists.

The art collection was created at the beginning of the Museum’s existence in 1948. Works related to Nicolaus Copernicus, astronomy, space, Frombork, and the Warmian region, including contemporary art, were acquired. In the years 1973-1980, international painting workshops took place in Frombork, and from 1983, the gallery at the Radziejowski Tower became a place to present the works of contemporary art. Today, the southern avant-corps becomes a new exhibition space. The new exhibition is a harbinger of future exhibitions of contemporary art and more.

Curator: Żaneta Wlizło

Technical implementation of the exhibition:
Andrzej Długołęcki, Dariusz Grzesiak, Marcin Zabłocki

Bożena i Lech Okońscy

Graphic design:
Janusz Goliński
W plakacie wykorzystany został fragment pracy: Henryk Stażewski, Obraz Nr 2 (1975)