Cracow Group I — the inter-war avant-garde in Cracow’s academy of fine arts

19.03.2015, 6 p.m.

Wide sasza blonder domy kazimierz nad wis    olej  dyktazih a 441 4 2
Houses/Kazimierz nad Wisłą, oil, plywood  /  Sasha Blonder

We represented the province — uncouth, hungry, ardent, not yet made blasé by urban manners, unconnected with Cracow’s Olympus. 

[…] We read a lot, had discussions — our interests focused on international art. Names such as Chagall, Picasso, Leger, Grosz, Piscator became of great interest to us. We were hypnotized by their art — Chagall’s poetry, Picasso’s drama, Léger’s order, Gorsz’s political harshness, the character and form of Piscator’s modern theatre. When it came to Polish artists we were especially interested in Szczuka’s ideas, Strzemiński’s theory of vision, the architectural concepts of the Syrkus’, Stażewski’s paintings. Leon Chwistek was often in Cracow (…). Our artistic activity developed in the atmosphere of these artists’ ideas, often very different from each other but paving the way for a new vision of the word and connected to the progressive social movements. 

Jonasz Stern [Cracow Group. Documents and materials from 1939 – 2008, pg.103]

Aleksander (Sasza) Blonder (alias André Blondel), Blima (Berta) Grünberg, Maria Jarema, Franciszek Jaźwiecki, Leopold Lewicki, Adam Marczyński, Stanisław Osostowicz, Szymon Piasecki, Mojżesz Schwanenfeld, Bolesław Stawiński, Jonasz Stern, Henryk Wiciński, Aleksander Winnicki – those are the members of the pre-war Cracow Group I. Most of the artist belonged to the Communist party of Poland as well as the Young Communist League of Poland from which – according to Stern himself — the group was born. The leftist artistic youth was ultimately united by the repression they experienced from the authorities of the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow which reached their ultimate heights at the end of the 1931/1932 school year. 

The meeting will serve as a pretext to talk about the lives and work of these colorful and extraordinary youths whose fates, so tightly interwoven with each other, became a part of the history of the Polish avant-garde.

The meeting will be lead by Anna Budzałek — art historian, curator of modern art, graduate of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, associate professor of the Modern Painting and Sculpture Department of the National Museum in Cracow. She deals with Polish art after 1945 with a particular focus on the works of women in Polish artistic life. Currently she if leading a series of lectures dedicated to the artists of Cracow Group I at the National Museum in Cracow.

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