An art critic, Barbara Majewska, in a short interview, encourages us to see the exhibition „Polish Art and the Holocaust”. The exhibition is engraved in her memory, especially because it provides „a broader look” at art in Poland which deals with the subject matter of the Holocaust. The presence of some of the works at the exhibition took her aback (Wróblewski). On the other hand, other works were not a surprise to her and the curators of the exhibition did not disappoint her expectations. The critic noticed works by Elżbiera Janicka, an author currently arousing a lot of controversy. She was surprised by the form of a painting by Erna Rosenstein, which in her opinion is close to naive art. „This form was not enough to address the subject effectively,” she says. Her interest was attracted especially by a painting „Judyta” by Izaak Celnikier, who patterned himself on Rembrandt’s paintings. In her opinion, Celnikier’s drawings and graphics, which are a characteristic report depicting the Holocaust, are also out of ordinary.
Barbara Majewska graduated art history from the University of Warsaw. For years, she has been an art critic. Since the political thaw in the years 1955–56, she has been interested in contemporary art. In the years 1962–77 she was in France, where she wrote a book, intended as a doctorate, on painting of de Staël, Dubuffet, Wols and Pollock. After her return to Poland, she was an editor of the Bulletin of ZPAP’s Artistic Council, and when the union had been dissolved during period of martial law, she organised exhibitions in the Association of Art Historians’ headquarters in Piwna street. In the years 1990–93, as director of Zachęta gallery, she continued writing for the press and exhibition catalogues. Privately, Barbara Majewska was the wife of Izaac Celnikier.
Projects and photograms of the best architectural works and monuments commemorating the Holocaust (Treblinka, Bełżec, Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Cracow) have also been presented.
The exhibition has been visited by many noble guests, including the president and the prime minister of Poland, as well as the last living Warsaw ghetto fighters: Symcha Ratajzer and Samuel Willenberg and many guests from Israel and the United States.
The exhibition has become a key part of the tradition of art exhibition of the JHI. Since 1948, a lot of exhibitions of the works of artists, who died in the Holocaust have been shown in the building of the Institute.
Due to the fact that the exhibition is coming to an end, a ceremonial finissage will take place. It will consist of an artists’ biographies and works knowledge competition and a debate on a problem of the depiction of the Holocaust subject matter in art. It will be participated by Tomasz Lec, the designer of the exhibition, Krystyna Piotrowska, an artist whose works were presented at the exhibition, Piotr Kosiewski, who will be representing the Stefan Batory Foundation and Dorota Jarecka, an art critic. Join us!