Lviv on the 24th June 1937. City, architecture, modernism

1 December 2017 - 8 April 2018

Lviv on the 24th June 1937. City, architecture, modernism

Place International Cultural Centre, Rynek Główny 25, 31-008 Kraków, Poland, POLAND
Organizer International Cultural Centre
More info http://mck.krakow.pl/wystawy/lwow-24-czerwca-1937-miasto-architektura-modernizm

24 June 1937 was an ordinary day in Lviv, with a thousand events. The majority of them have been forgotten by now. Yet a glance back from today’s perspective on that and other days proves that Lviv lived and breathed modernity. The “Gazeta Lwowska” brought reports on the staging of The Lady in White at Teatr Wielki and over a dozen different films showings in cinemas. Radio Lviv broadcast Wilhelm Raort’s commentary promoting the fashion for hiking trips, and a lecture by Józefa Vogel on innovative archaeological examinations at Biskupin. As part of a seminar in mathematics at Lviv University, Dr Stanisław Ulam presented a report from a study tour to the United States (he would go and settle there in 1939 to become a leading founder of research into nuclear energy in America). Construction and design work on numerous Modernist buildings across the city was underway. The summer semester was coming to a close at the Faculty of Architecture and other departments of Lviv Polytechnic. Lots of personal memories must have been noted down in the citizens’ private calendars. For many individuals that may have been an exceptional day. But for the modern Lviv it was just a day like any other. A little more than two years later that everydayness was to exist no longer.

For Lviv, the years of the Second Polish Republic opened new opportunities for growth which were earnestly seized, as showed by the urban planning and architectural solutions of the day. Thanks to Ignacy Drexler, plans for the urban development of Great Lviv (the Great Lviv Project) were created as early as 1920, based on which the city, which reached the population level of 300,000 in 1939, kept expanding. The Lviv architectural milieu left an abundant legacy of finished projects: from private villas and tenements, to public buildings, to new park layouts, sports facilities or the seat of Radio Lviv.

While the 1920s drew on the elegant Classicism and trends close to Art Déco, toward the end of the decade Modernism began to take over. The new architecture was backed on the one hand by supporters of historicizing forms like Jan Bagieński or Wawrzyniec Dayczak, and on the other hand by the new generation of graduates of Lviv Polytechnic, Poles, Jews and Ukrainians alike, among them Władysław Derdacki, Witold Minkiewicz, Andrzej Frydecki, Leopold Karasiński, Ferdynand Kassler, Salomon Keil, Jakób Menker, Stefan Porębowicz, Roman Hrycaj, Jewhen Nagirnyj, Tadeusz Teodorowicz-Todorowski, Zbigniew Wardzała and Tadeusz Wróbel, whose works are overviewed in this exhibition.

It was not only architecture that turned Lviv into an important centre of Modernist culture. Active here were the Artes avant-garde group of Surrealists, celebrated photographers, poster designers, founders of what is commonly referred to as the Lviv School of Mathematics, university and polytechnic milieus as well as filmmakers and radio journalists known across the nation. Another symbol of Lviv’s modernity were the Eastern Fairs, which made a contribution to the city’s development and its high rank as an economic centre of international significance.

In the times of the Second Polish Republic Lviv was among the leading centres of Modernism both nationally and in the entire region of Central and Eastern Europe. That was the formative period for Lviv’s modern identity which is key to an understanding of the present-day myth of the city and its role for the city’s former and present dwellers, and of the 20th-century history of Poland, Ukraine and Europe.

Curators: Prof. Andrzej Szczerski, Dr Żanna Komar