THE FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF 'ART NOUVEAU' AT THE PLOCK MUSEUM (Czterdziestolecie secesji w Muzeum Plockim)
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When during the 1950s and 1960s Europe witnessed a 'discovery' of 'Art Nouveau', in Poland Prof. Mieczyslaw Wallis, soon joined by a group of young historians of art, initiated the restoration of the place due to this current in the history of art. The first exhibition, entitled 'Art Nouveau in Poland', was held in 1967 by the small Museum of Mazovia in Plock, an event accompanied by the publication of the first book on the subject. The Society of Historians of Art organised a conference on the topic. The Plock Museum gathered a representative collection of works which originated in the most important local art milieus of the period - Cracow and Warsaw, and were executed by acclaimed painters: Stanislaw Wyspianski, Jozef Mehoffer, Teodor Axentowicz, Wlodzimierz Tetmajer, Wojciech Weiss, Stanislaw Rembowski, Wladyslaw Wanke and Edward Okun and sculptors: Boleslaw Biegas, whose compositions are kept mainly in Paris, and Waclaw Szymanowski, author of a statue of Frederic Chopin, quite possibly the most magnificent example of European 'Art Nouveau'. The crafts: furniture, ceramics, works in metal, women's costumes, jewellery and glass, represented assorted art centres of the neighbouring countries as well as France and Belgium. The large glass collection is composed of exhibits by well-known European firms - Emil Galle, the Daum bruthers, Loetz and assorted Czech firms. The Polish state did not exist during the period of the domination of the Art Nouveau current, and the three parts of the country ruled by foreign powers maintained different contacts. This is probably the reason why the 'Art Nouveau' collection in Plock, totaling more than 10 000 works of art, is so European and typical, both artistically and geographically. The Museum of Mazovia popularised the titular art through exhibitions on show in Warsaw, Kielce and many other museum centres, as well as in numerous countries. Closest contacts are maintained with the Museum in Darmstadt (Germany) and with museums in Nancy, Brussels and Paris. The most prestigious exposition - 'Polish art 1900-1975' - was held at the Sezession Society in Vienna and was part of a calendar of cultural events accompanying the Winter Olympics in 1976. For 32 years a representative 'Art Nouveau' exposition was featured at the Castle of the Dukes of Mazovia in Plock; since 2005 it continues to be on show in an 'Art Nouveau' house in Tumska Street. Today, we are waiting for the creation of a museum centre of studies on art from the first half of the twentieth century, the re-establishment of close cooperation with centres of European Art Nouveau, and a wider exchange of exhibitions.
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