The exhibition at the Szołayski House of National Museum in Krakow features works which have not been shown to the Polish public before, works by great artists, regarded already as classics in art history, such as Fernand Léger, Edvard Munch, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian and Alexander Archipenko. Works produced in the first decades of the 20th century are accompanied by the contemporary ones, dialoguing with historical objects.
These include among others works by David Claerbout, Jeff Wall and Sean Scully. Thus the question arises about the relevance of the avant-garde, about its sources of inspiration and its meanings, as well as its power of influence. The exhibition is complemented by the works of Polish artists: Katarzyna Kobro, Leon Chwistek, Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Władysław Strzemiński, Andrzej Pawłowski, Marek Piasecki and the present day artists drawing inspiration from the works of the Polish avant-garde classics.
The avant-garde movements of the first quarter of the 20th century had a strong emotional, intellectual and in some cases also socio-political charge. They were usually accompanied by optimism and a belief in the possibility to reform the world (and change the man). Two world wars and the experience of the European totalitarianisms changed this view. That is why the intergenerational dialogue is not an epigonic phenomenon, though the art of the latter half of the 20th century, burdened with traumas and involved in the overexploited Postmodernist temptations or resorting to the aesthetics of camp, hardly ever musters the courage to be as authentic as avant-garde art.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with essays by art historians and specialists in the field of the avant-garde movements discussing this extremely important and still vivid art tradition.
Exhibition concept developed by BOZAR (Centre for Fine Arts Brussels).
The exhibition The Power of the Avant-Garde. Now and Then was shown in the Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels (BOZAR) from 29 September 2016 to 22 January 2017 as part of the Commemoration of the Centenary of the Great War.