Polish art in the Hypo-Kunsthalle in Munich: “Silent Rebels” unfortunately keep up to date with the latest developments as a result of the Ukraine war – Culture

The conscience of the nation wears red, every schoolboy in Poland knows the foolish Stanczyk, whom the history painter Jan Matejko gave his own traits in 1862. Dressed in a fire-colored costume with a clown hat and a black Madonna of Czestochowa mascot around his neck, Stanzcyk sits in Kraków Castle and looks wistfully to his folded hands.

Because unlike the prolific court community, the patriot cares about his motherland. Next to it there is a letter dated 1533, in which you can see the name of the region of Western Lithuanian Samogitia, which was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Empire founded in 1386, and which is still revered and glorified in Poland to this day.

However, the painting is related to the loss of Smolensk to the Grand Duchy of Moscow in 1514, as the long title reveals: “Stanchik during the ball in the court of Queen Bona, when the news of the loss of Smolensk arrives.” Munich exhibition “Silent Rebels. Polish allegory circa 1900”, however, refrains from naming titles in Polish origin, making it difficult to understand.

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Stanczyk was stolen by German occupiers in World War II, and it ended up in Moscow and was only returned to the National Museum in Warsaw in 1956. This circumstance is especially critical, since Poland felt threatened by its two big neighbors in the West and East, and not without reason. From the third partition of Poland in 1795 until the end of World War I, the country was practically wiped off the map and was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria-Hungary.

In addition to the Catholic language and religion, the arts have become more important for maintaining national identity. Matejko has taught at the Academy in Munich since 1858. Between 1820 and 1914, about 300 Polish artists moved to “Athena Isar”, especially painters such as Olga Poznanska or the Maximilian brothers and Aleksandr Geremski. Around 1890, the latter painted Ludwigsbrücke in a blue-pink-purple twilight, through which the black-robed figures fly off.

Late homecoming of the iconic ‘Stanczyk’

Boznanska in Hypo Kunsthalle is represented by three images, including the “Girl with the Chrysanthemum”: her features are spread out like delicate feathered flowers. So the iconic ‘Stanczyk’ now opening a stunning gallery in Hypo-Kunsthalle in Munich can be seen as a kind of late homecoming.

130 of Poland’s most important paintings can be seen in Germany for the first time with such intensity, and many have not been exhibited abroad. Among them is Matejko’s student Jacek Malchowski’s “Polish Hamlet” from 1903, which is named as a character: Polish Congress President Wielopolski is shown picking petals between an elderly Polish youth and a liberated young man.

With Silent Rebels, Art Gallery documents a blind spot in Western perception – curator Nerina Santorius talks about an “embarrassing flaw.” Director Roger Dedren was also shocked that he could not find anything on loan in any German museum. The state Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw rushed to the rescue of the national museums in Warsaw, Krakow and Pozna.

In administrative documents, Poland is traded as “the country of the Vistula”

Unfortunately, the “silent rebels” have become the topic of the hour as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Because Russia, like Ukraine, denied occupied Poland its own cultural identity; From 1880 on, only the “Vistula District” was mentioned in administrative documents.

Even today, the architecture of Polish cities reveals which state they belonged to during the 123-year occupation. Riots broke out in 1830 and 1863. In 1864 the Academy in Warsaw was closed, causing many students to travel abroad.

Josef Szymonski is also one of the “Poles from Munich”. His Indian Summer of 1875 shows a Ukrainian shepherd resting while watching her black dog. Because of its “peasant” character, the work was especially popular in the Communist People’s Republic.

Between popular piety and global influences

The Silent Rebels vacillate between two poles: the shift to local landscapes such as the Tatras and popular piety as sources of spiritual strength, and international influences such as Parisian Japonism or decadence. Jacek Malczewski proves to be a producer.

[Hypo-Kunsthalle München, bis 7. 8.; Katalog (Hirmer Verlag) 35 Euro.]

While his threesome style with Jesus and two of his fellow countrymen exiled in Siberia approaches religious kitsch for Western eyes, “Art on the Manor” from 1896 convinces with its simultaneous originality. In front of a flock of turkeys, arrayed like musical notes, the Fon comforts the weeping peasant girl by playing the flute.

Landscapes reflect the hope of liberation

A special feature of Munich was its “mood landscape”, which was influenced by such icons as Arnold Böcklin and Franz von Stock. This is how Julien Famat creates wonderful panoramic photos of snow. Ferdynand Ruszczyc’s work shows a free-floating or squatting cloud symbolically “old apple trees” in dark tones. The many images of the sleepy autumn-winter nature symbolize the “people without a state” who are waiting for liberation.

With the modernist movement Young Poland thaws since 1890 and spirited spring motifs have made their way into art: children playing, ecstatic women, phons, and a knight surrounded by flowers. What begins with serious asshole Stanczyk ends with Bologna happily soaring through the air as an allegory for a sovereign nation.

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