exhibitions & events:
Masters of painting in Bydgoszcz
|Author: Inga Kopciewicz|
|Location of the exhibition: Granaries – 7-11 Grodzka Street|
|Exhibition opens till: 2013-10-06|
Since the moment of its establishment, the Municipal Museum in Bydgoszcz has been gathering items with the view of creating a collection documenting the works of artists related with the city and its region. The period between the wars was the time of emergence of the so-called Bydgoszcz Salon, the three editions of which, in the years 1936-1938, provided a review of artistic achievements of the region. The arranged exhibitions and contacts maintained with artists significantly influenced the manner of obtaining works from the fields of painting, drawing, graphics and sculpture. The current exhibition aims to bring its viewers closer to the works of artists born or working in Bydgoszcz. The presentation is chronologically narrowed down to the works produced in the period of one hundred years: from 1839 to 1940.
The Museum managed to assemble a broad collection of paintings and drawings of an artist born in Bydgoszcz, Maksymilian Antoni Piotrowski (1813-1875). After graduating from schools in his hometown in 1833, Piotrowski left for Berlin, where he started to attend the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The period of his studies resulted in works reflecting the artist’s diverse interests. Apart from genre scenes with a sentimental overtone, he created vivid and often playful images of student entertainment activities, e.g. Prince of madmen. This was also the time when numerous portraits were created, mainly of people close to the artist, that he painted during his visits at home. The ones maintained in biedermeier manner are of a representative character; the other, as for instance The balcony scene, are stylised in the spirit of the past epochs. Also from that period are the works of religious character painted for the parish church in Bydgoszcz (St. Anthony and Blessed Salomea designed as a bilateral feretory). The author also found themes for his works in contemporary literature, which is reflected in the sketch to a painting inspired by the romantic poem Oberon by Christoph Martin Wieland. During his further studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf, he met its director, Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow – an enthusiast of Nazarenism, who sought the revival of art fossilized as a result of academic classicism in sentimental-romantic and religious compositions relating to the legacy of the Quattrocento artists. Piotrowski developed his interest in this concept during his stay in Italy. In 1842, he was admitted to a Roman artistic society of a multinational character – Ponte Molle Gesellschaft. He established contact with the protagonist of the Nazarenes – Johann Friedrich Overbeck, and capitolines practising the Italian manner of Nazarenism, placing an emphasis on landscape and genre scenes. His stay in Italy, brought into his art scenes from Italian life set in an idyllic landscape. Since 1849, Piotrowski settled in Królewiec (Kaliningrad), where he became a professor at the Prussian Academy of Fine Arts. This is when he became interested in monumental mural painting. An example of his work was a decoration of a university hall from 1863-1871, destroyed during World War Two, prepared together with Ludwig Rosenfelder and Gustaw Gräf – the decoration plan, maintained in the spirit of classicism, illustrated the four main university departments: theology, law, medicine and philosophy, complimented with eight paintings representing particular disciplines. The exhibition presents his Portrait of a Roman – a sketch for the polychromy titled Mathematics. Archimedes during the siege of Syracuse. At the same time, Piotrowski created works of genre subject matters. The works that also gained popularity were his portraits maintained within the stylistics of realistic middle-class images presenting a high level of his artistic workshop, the example of which is the idealized Portrait of a lady in a white dress.
The Museum also owns a representative collection of works of another Bydgoszcz citizen – Walter Leistikow (1865-1908) – a painter, graphic artist and designer, who, as a result of his artistic activity, became well known in Europe. He took his first drawing and painting lessons in Bydgoszcz, from the painter – Alexandr Flotow. In 1883 he began his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin; however, the conservative curriculum induced him to leave the academy and start taking private lessons at the studio of Hermann Eschke and Hans Gude, who instilled in him love to open-air landscape painting. Since 1890 he worked at Kunstschule in Berlin. In 1892, he co-founded, together with Max Liebermann, an artistic group “Die XI” acting as opposition to conservative academic painting that in 1898 gave rise to “Berliner Secession” – Walter Leistikow is known as the “father and pillar” of “the Berlin Secession”. Leistikow’s art, with clear traits of features of Art Nouveau is essentially subject to one painting genre – landscape painting, which, thanks to the artist’s
applica tion of innovative approaches to portraying and framing, is depicted in a number of different variants. At the exhibition, the viewers may see the paintings inspired by the art and nature of Scandinavian countries, e.g. Norwegian landscape. We also find the representation of the stylization method used by the artist in the works inspired by Japanese art (Trees, Mountains).
In the 1920’s and 1930’s we observe a special dynamics in the activity of the Bydgoszcz artists. The factor that had a significant impact on the development of the artistic environment in Bydgoszcz during interwar period, was the establishment and activity of the State School of Artistic Industry. This facility assembled in artistic studios the artists–teachers from various Polish centres, such as: Piotr Chmura from Cracow, Bronisław Bartel, Bolesław Lewański, Leon Dołżycki from Poznań, or even Karol Mondral from Paris. It was them that educated the next generation of artists of Bydgoszcz. The exhibition also gives the opportunity to recall those outstanding artists, whose role in undertaking actions aiming at establishing artist associations is invaluable. The men whose contribution was of particular value were Jerzy Rupniewski – a co-founder of the Pomeranian Artist Association (later on transformed into a Group of Pomeranian Artists) and Marian Turwid – the future founder of the Pomeranian District of the Association of Polish Artists. What deserves special attention, are the realizations showing the views of Bydgoszcz. The characteristic urban motives and architectural monuments, such as the parish church, the post-Jesuit church, or the so-called Bydgoszcz Venice, are very common motives in the paintings by Franciszek Gajewski and Jerzy Rupniewski. A significant part of the exhibition is constituted by the portraits of outstanding Bydgoszcz personalities, e.g. The portrait for Dr Jan Biziel by Jerzy Rupniewski. The review of painter works is enriched with sculptures of the Bydgoszcz artists – Teodor Gajewski and Stefan Kiersnowski.
The works of each of the painters presented at the exhibition, expressing themselves in their own, carefully formed formulas, constitute a part of a diversified and rich portrait of the artistic environment of Bydgoszcz.