Polish Fin de Siècle Art at the Gothenburg Museum of Art

Symbolist landscapes, in-depth psychological portraits, and mythological scenes tell the story of a people without a nation, but with a rich culture and a complex history. For the first time in Sweden, Gothenburg Museum of Art presents an exhibition featuring several national icons from the golden age of Polish art around the turn of the century 1900.

Młoda Polska (Young Poland) is the name of the artistic movement that marked the birth of Polish modernism. In Swedish art history, the nearest equivalent is the Opponents movement of the 1880s, but Młoda Polska had its own specific historical prerequisites. National identity and a longing for freedom were expressed symbolically. The historical background was the division of Poland in 1795 between Russia, Prussia, and Austria, to be united as a nation first in 1918.

Many important artists made their debut during this period. Art and politics were united in a spirit of dynamism, in which personal narratives were mixed with mythology. In myths, traditions, folklore, and nature, the artists expressed Polish identity, and at the same time they were inspired by the artistic currents in the rest of Europe during their stays in Paris, Munich, and Vienna. Influenced by symbolism, art nouveau, and early modernism, they created a vibrant artistic climate with Kraków and Warsaw as important creative meeting places.

The exhibition is a collaboration with the National Museum in Warsaw, which has enabled a large number of important loans. At a later stage, a broader presentation of Nordic Fin de Siècle art from Gothenburg Museum of Art will be presented at the National Museum in Warsaw.

The exhibition features around 60 artworks from the National Museum in Warsaw, the National Museum in Krakow and the Museum Sztuki in Łodz; the majority are paintings in the large format. The artists include leading figures in Polish art history such as Olga Boznańska, Józef Chełmoński, Jacek Malczewski, Józef Mehoffer, Edward Okuń, Wojciech Weiss, Witold Wojtkiewicz, and Stanisław Wyspiański.

The exhibition at the Gothenburg Museum of Art (Götaplatsen 6, 412 56 Göteborg) is open from 27th October 2018 to 17th March 2019.