Tematem artykułu jest analiza prac dwóch znaczących artystek wywodzących się z irańskiej diaspory: pracuj ącej w USA Shirin Neshat i mieszkającej w Niemczech Parastou Forouhar. Uczestniczą one w procesie redefiniowania przez sztukę współczesną reprezentacji islamu, a szczególnie kobiet muzułmanek, biorą udział w publicznych debatach, jakie wyłoniły się po rewolucji irańskiej 1979 r. i nasiliły od czasu ataków terrorystycznych 11 września 2001 r. Shirin Neshat i Parastou Forouhar zwracają uwagę na „kulurowy imperializm” świata zachodniego, ukazując głęboko zakorzenione dychotomie, które polaryzują pojmowanie kultury Zachodu i Wschodu według przeciwnych kategorii, takich jak tradycja – nowoczesność, opresja – wolność, fundamentalizm – sekularyzacja, czy zacofanie – cywilizacja. Operując na granicy tych pojęć, obie artystki celowo łączą i kontrastują ze sobą spolaryzowane tematy, praktyki i symbole kulturowe, wzięte z tradycji perskich, muzułmańskich i zachodnich, bezustannie rekonfigurując oś czasowo-przestrzenną, aby umożliwić myślenie niedialektyczne, otwarte na nowe, dynamiczne i płynne pojmowanie podmiotu. Używając postmodernistycznych strategii, takich jak ironia, zapożyczenie i dekonstrukcja, Neshat i Forouhar starają się rozbić hegemoniczne dyskursy szyickiego islamu, zachodniego orientalizmu i neokolonializmu. Można stwierdzić, że w ten sposób wprowadzają one treść swojej sztuki w tak zwaną trzecią przestrzeń zdefiniowaną przez postkolonialnego teoretyka Homi Bhabhę, teren kontestacji i subwersji homogenicznych pojęć kulturowych, ukazujących procesy hybrydyzacji, ambiwalencji, negocjacji i translacji. Jest to również obszar tworzenia tak zwanych między-przestrzeni (in-between space), gdzie można uniknąć utrwalonych binaryzmów i rozumienia współczesnych kultur jako czegoś „autentycznego” lub „czystego”, szczególnie w czasach nasilających się procesów globalizacji. Neshat i Forouhar fragmentaryzują, rozpraszają i decentralizują dominujące dyskursy reprezentacji, określające tradycyjną perską kulturę, współczesną politykę irańską oraz mocno utrwalone i uproszczone wizerunki muzułmańskich kobiet, ukazując tworzenie się nowych i nieodwracalnych transnacjonalnych znaczeń i powiązań między Iranem/Wschodem i Zachodem, które kontestują ściśle określone kategorie etniczne, narodowościowe, płciowe i uporządkowane kulturowe paradygmaty
The monumental photographic exhibitions shown in many parts of the world during the first post-war decades were an important landmark in the history of photography. In this paper, two of the exhibitions became the starting point for a discussion about the perception of the medium of photography and its function in the 1950s and 1960s. The first, titled The Family of Man, was set up in 1955 by American photographer and curator Edward Steichen; the second, organised less than a decade later, was the worldwide exhibition Was ist der Mensch?, by the Austro-German journalist Karl Pawek. The two projects, although generally based on the same ideological and structural principles – a spatial installation building a narrative of a humanist nature – are antithetical to each other in terms of approach to the subject. Rooted in the complex context of the cultural, social, and political post-war period, they reveal a number of tensions hidden behind the strategies of constructing a visual narrative. The author mainly focuses on the issue of the representation of World War II experiences in photography, especially its most poignant event – the Holocaust. Stories about the human condition and realities of the contemporary iconosphere are investigated through relevant images. The reflections are based on case studies – the reception of these exhibitions in Germany and Poland. The analysis is supported by little known theories by Karl Pawek, by the voices of historians and critics of photography, as well as the latest developments on the subject. By revealing the circumstances of the reception of these projects and the resonance of their humanistic message questions are raised about ways of understanding the medium of photography within the broader history of visual culture. An important theme in the discussion are changes in the way we reflect on photography – criticism of a medium perceived as a visual language of universal character, taking into account the fundamental role of the historical, social, and cultural context in the process of creating meaning and interpreting images.
Artykuł ma na celu omówienie historii dwóch monumentalnych katalogów raisonné Rembrandta i Rubensa, opublikowanych przez Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project i Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, oraz porównanie ich metodologii i wyników. Oba projekty przekroczyły pierwotne terminy o dziesiątki lat i oba są nadal niedokończone. Przez prawie pięćdziesiąt lat badań podejście R RP do tematu atrybucji zmieniło się radykalnie, ale metody badawcze CRLB pozostały bez zmian. Rembrandt Research Project od początku koncentruje się na kwestiach autentyczności i atrybucji, z naciskiem położonym na badania technologiczne obrazów. Pod kierunkiem E. Van de Weteringa katalogowanie dzieł stało się mniej restrykcyjne i opiera się na studiach nad warsztatem i techniką malarską artysty oraz na źródłach literackich. Corpus Rubenianum bazuje na tradycyjnych metodach historycznych i ikonograficznych zainicjowanych przez Roosesa i Burcharda, zaniedbując sprawy znawstwa i badania technologiczne. Podczas pierwszej fazy projektu RRP odpisało wiele obrazów Rembrandta, ale pod kierunkiem Van de Weteringa 70 obrazów na nowo przypisano artyście. Corpus Rubenianum nadal kataloguje wszystkie dzieła Rubensa uznane przez Burcharda w 1. połowie XX w. za autentyczne, zbyt rzadko weryfikując i kwestionując dawne atrybucje. Cały format katalogu raisonné jest dziś poddawany krytyce. Pomimo ogromnych dokonań obu projektów w badaniach nad twórczością Rembrandta i Rubensa poziom zaufania do współczesnego znawstwa jest nadal zaskakująco niski.
One of the characteristic features of the architectural landscape of the Stalinist era in Poland (post 1949) was the widespread use of standard designs. Initially these were not part of the propaganda of socialist realist architecture. The ideological justification of the use of standard designs as a “reflection of the era in which they arise” only began in 1953. During the following three years, a period in which the slow process of undermining Stalinist dogmas in architecture took place, supplanted by an openly technocratic vision of an industrialized architecture, the problem of standard designs regularly arose in contemporary discourse. One aspect was the growing criticism of the monotony of housing estates erected throughout the country by the state Workers Housing Department. The issue of these typical projects also came up at the National Conference of Architects in March 1956, where severe criticisms of socialist realism were voiced. The criticism arising from the architects’ milieu was heard alongside positive assessments from those close to the construction industry, who saw standard projects as instruments for producing an “architectural background worthy of a socialist society” in the Polish landscape. The adoption of “theses on typification” in 1959 (probably unwittingly repeating the words used by Hermann Muthesius in 1914) by the team of Władysław Gomułka finally terminated this period of intellectual fermentation, administratively imposing the use of standard projects and industrialised building technologies.One of the characteristic features of the architectural landscape of the Stalinist era in Poland (post 1949) was the widespread use of standard designs. Initially these were not part of the propaganda of socialist realist architecture. The ideological justification of the use of standard designs as a “reflection of the era in which they arise” only began in 1953. During the following three years, a period in which the slow process of undermining Stalinist dogmas in architecture took place, supplanted by an openly technocratic vision of an industrialized architecture, the problem of standard designs regularly arose in contemporary discourse. One aspect was the growing criticism of the monotony of housing estates erected throughout the country by the state Workers Housing Department. The issue of these typical projects also came up at the National Conference of Architects in March 1956, where severe criticisms of socialist realism were voiced. The criticism arising from the architects’ milieu was heard alongside positive assessments from those close to the construction industry, who saw standard projects as instruments for producing an “architectural background worthy of a socialist society” in the Polish landscape. The adoption of “theses on typification” in 1959 (probably unwittingly repeating the words used by Hermann Muthesius in 1914) by the team of Władysław Gomułka finally terminated this period of intellectual fermentation, administratively imposing the use of standard projects and industrialised building technologies.
A few extraordinary examples of vaults with asymmetrical arrangements of ribs appeared in 1370s Silesia. They were used in fairly regularly planned spaces, which allowed the use of vaults with a symmetrical composition. The most interesting example in this group is the vault in the rectangular council meeting hall in Namysłów’s City Hall. Namysłów’s City Hall was built from 1374–1378 by an unknown builder, the so-called Master Peter. His identification with Wrocław’s (Breslau) master builder Peter, called Rote, from Halle, as suggested by Kurt Bimler, remains hypothetical thus far. In 1378 Master Peter erected in the City Hall one of the most beautiful and probably the oldest preserved irregular vaults, ingeniously constructed from three-rayed ribs, with an added single rib in the south-western corner. This rib and the adjoining triangular vault cell completely disrupt the regularity of the vault’s arrangement. This example from Namysłów was soon to be recreated with minor variations around 1400 (before 1413) in the council chamber of the City Hall of another Silesian town – Środa Śląska. It is not known who the maker of this vault was. Some researchers, in particular Danuta Hanulanka and Małgorzata Niemczyk, have also dated another asymmetrical vault in the rectangular chapel of St. Anne in the parish church of Namysłów to the last quarter of the fourteenth century. Hanulanka also hypothesises that this vault is linked with the activity of Master Peter. Yet the construction of the church in Namysłów started only after 1405, and the chapel of St. Anne was established even later, at the earliest c. 1425, and so the vault cannot be considered one of the oldest asymmetric vaults dating from the late fourteenth century. Between the years 1391–1393, an anonymous architect developed a project to rebuild a merchant house and the town hall in Toruń, Prussia. In the latter, we have two rectangular rooms with vaulted ceilings showing an irregular pattern of ribs. Except for the asymmetry, the vaults in Toruń show no close similarities with the vaults in Namysłów or Środa Śląska. They were considered very unusual in late fourteenth century Baltic countries, and it is impossible to find any local archetypes for them. The concept of the vault in Namysłów by Master Peter bears some similarities to vaults in the side aisles of Corpus Christi Church in Wrocław, dated to 1360–1367. The vaults in the church in Wrocław cannot, however, be considered completely asymmetrical – an axis of symmetry from north to south can be traced across each of the aisles. During the next phase of the church’s construction, after 1390, the side aisles of the choir were erected with vaults which were given a completely irregular composition. The oldest known vault with an irregular pattern of ribs, which unfortunately has not survived, seems to be the vault that was destroyed in the mid-fifteenth century in the former chapel of St. Lawrence, St. Agnes and St. Margaret (now St. Anne) in the parish church of Our Lady in Opawa. The chapel was built from 1372–1373; it was endowed in 1373–1374 by a rich merchant from Opawa called Reynczko, who was later a councillor in that town. Intentionally irregular vaults in relatively regular spaces were a rarity in the fourteenth century. Their unusualness stands out even more if we realize that the most important Central European architectural centres were dominated at the time by a completely opposite trend. The architects working at the court of the King of Bohemia and Germany, Wenceslas IV of Luxembourg, strove to achieve maximum geometric harmony in their vaults. In the Column Hall of Prague Castle in the early 1380s, the symmetrical vault was meant to disguise the irregular floor plan. In the Czech castle Krakovec, built in 1381–1384 by George of Rostock, King Wenceslas’s adviser and courtier, vaults of regular and harmonious composition dominate the irregular projection of the chapel and other rooms. This striving for geometric perfection led to the use of a completely regular composition of the stellar vault in the irregular nave of the royal chapel in the Italian Court in Kutna Hora, built from 1386–1389. The same principles influenced the vault in the so-called Hall of Jadwiga and Jagiello, in the Danish Tower of the royal c astle on Wawel Hill in Kraków, built from 1386–1399. Therefore, Silesian irregular vaults from the 1370s go against the common at that time trend of using perfectly harmonious vaults in order to correct the imperfections of floor plans. The reason for this particular disparity has not yet been elucidated. One can only conclude that the appearance of these specific quirks, these ancient Silesian asymmetric vaults, predated by almost a hundred years the development of similar vaults in other parts of continental Europe.
My study of Józef Mehoffer’s famous painting Strange Garden, 1903, represents a departure from the polemics that argue that it was meant to depict the artist’s happy family life. I am not saying that the painter lacked happiness, only that his painting had another meaning. In my analysis of the structure of the image, I refer to the distinct painterly treatment of the dragonfly, as compared to the garden and the figures, often remarked upon by art critics and researchers. By focussing on the relationship between the depicted scene and the surface and boundary of the picture, and thus on the identification of the strictly painterly aspects of the work, my analysis led me to the conclusion that the painting contains a coded reference to the biblical story of the Creation of the world and of man’ s salvation. The woman picking an apple can be interpreted as Eve, whilst another woman in the background serves as her mirror image, and as indicated by the withered branches, represents the figure of humanity marked by mortality as a consequence of original sin. The figure of the naked boy radiating his “own” light can be interpreted as the child born of Mary – the New Eve – the miracle child bringing salvation. The elements connecting these three characters and stages of the holy story are garlands of flowers, which I interpret as inspired by the garlands of flowers in the early modern representations of Virgin Mary (among others by Jan Brueghel the Elder). The dragonfly, which does not fit in with the rest of the scene, almost as if it were added later, can be read as an allusion to a new way of defining Nature, which came into conflict with the biblical interpretation during the 19th century following the emergence of theories of evolution, in particular Charles Darwin’s ideas. The dragonfly was most probably inspired by illustrations in contemporary books on natural sciences. The dispute between Christian doctrine and Darwinism, well-known to Mehoffer, presented the most serious challenge to the human mind at the time of Strange Garden, comparable to the Copernican revolution. The present painting is an outstanding pictorial testimony to the spiritual condition of the contemporary man.
The ceiling of the Pantheon in Nieborów’s Temple of Diana, with its scene of Aurora riding Apollo’s horses, became the basis for the identification of Masonic elements in the iconographic program of the Temple and the whole Arcadian park. The scene acquired a symbolic meaning as the end of a period of darkness and the beginning of an era of Enlightenment and reason. As a result, the symbolism of the Temple and the park became strongly associated with the cult of Nature and reason, which underpin the Masonic ideology and more widely the Enlightenment. Yet linking the mythological figures of Aurora and Apollo with the light of reason and the worship of Nature, and thereby the promotion of equality, clashes with potential reasons for the naming of the Temple after Diana, Apollo’s sister and one of the twins who killed twelve or even fourteen of Niobe’s children. We know that Princess Helena Radziwiłł, the founder of Arcadia, had three daughters who died prematurely, and the tragedy of Niobe must have been felt as her own. So what reasons could there be to worship this goddess, the bearer of death, who was also a personification of the night, symbolizing, as we know, superstition and ignorance? In order to minimise this contradiction in the interpretation of the program, researchers concluded that the Temple and park’s symbolism was from the start infused with elements that were elegiac, serious and melancholy, with the sadness resulting from the Princess’s obsession with death that had troubled her from the start. The Arcadian park would then be conceived as a cemetery, a mausoleum for her dead daughters and for her own tomb. The Baroque motto Et in Arcadia ego (death is even in Arcadia) was transformed into an affirmation of the omnipresence of death. Thus the Baroque memento mori has overshadowed the optimism of the Enlightenment. In order to combat this contradiction, the author invokes the eighteenth-century cult of Nature and the features associated with her personification, which since the Renaissance took the form of the multi-breasted Artemis of the Ephesians, a goddess quite unlike Apollo’s sister, who was hostile to men and a bearer of death. Ephesia was in fact the heiress to the Eastern Great Mother Goddess, who in the XVI–XVIII centuries was usually confused with Isis, the Lady of Ten Thousand Names and the Empress of the four elements, a loving sister and wife who restored life to the assassinated Osiris. She also embodied the loving and caring Nature, playing a fundamental role in eighteenth-century Masonic ideology. It was her embodiment of Nature that provided a source of beauty, wisdom and justice and above all love. Thus she represents a force that brings back life from the emptiness of death, a force granting men optimism, willpower and the gift of creation. Acceptance of her eternal laws bestows on men an inner balance and peace. Princess Helena’s wish that her final resting place be in the Arcadian park stemmed from the hope of rebirth by Nature-Isis and of overcoming the fatal irreversibility of death. She was drawing on a belief that hearkened back to the primordial times of Egyptian religion, according to Warsaw’s followers of royal art.
This article discusses the sculptural decorations of the façade of the Grand Theatre in Warsaw, one of the best examples of Polish neoclassical architecture. The theatre was built by the Italian architect Antonio Corazzi in the years 1825–1833 and is considered the pinnacle of his creativity. The building has been remodelled several times since the 1830s and was practically destroyed during World War II. The greatest damage occurred during the siege of Warsaw by the Germans in September 1939 and during the Warsaw Uprising. Only the façade survived, with few changes made since Corazzi’s times. In keeping with the trends of the period in which the National Theatre was erected (the name National Theatre was changed to Grand Theatre after the November Uprising), the structure and decorations of the façade make reference to antique culture and theatrical art. Objects such as theatrical masks and musical instruments, especially lyres, were used as ornamentation. The sculpted figures on the façade were drawn from Greek and Roman mythology. The decoration of the façade was carried out by Italian sculptors selected by Corazzi, as well as Polish artists from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Warsaw, including Konstanty Hegel and Paweł Maliński. The designs that inspired these artists were either drawn directly from antique art (Pompeian frescoes, Parthenon frieze, etc.) or from contemporary works by artists such as Canova or Thorvaldsen. Of the Italian artists, Corazzi especially favoured Tommaso Acciardi, who was charged with the execution of the tympanum. The contract stipulated that the bas-relief on the pediment was to show the bust of Anacreon with three nymphs dancing around him accompanied by shepherds. The composition on the tympanum recalls an image illustrated in Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s book Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums. The pedestal was to carry a bust of Anacreon, as can be seen in an 1827 drawing. However, it now carries an inscription ΣΟΦΟΚΛΗΣ. It is not known when Anacreon was changed to Sophocles. Acciardi’s bas-relief refers perhaps to the first theatrical performances as suggested by Ludwig Kozubowski, who supervised the construction of the theatre. It might also have illustrated Anacreon’s poetry. At the same time, the choice of Sophocles is justified since he is often considered the most famous writer of antiquity, especially nowadays. The main decorative element of the front façade is Apollo’s quadriga, which became the symbol of the Grand Theatre-National Opera. The sculpture was initially to be executed by Paweł Maliński, but the idea was abandoned after the November Uprising. Eventually, in 2002, two Professors from the Academy of Fine Arts, Adam Myjak and Antoni Janusz Pastwa, executed the quadriga in accordance with Maliński’s and Corazzi’s project. The most time consuming work took place on the frieze around the entrance porch. The bas-relief was executed by Paweł Maliński, and has been remodelled several times since, with today’s composition rather far removed from the one placed there in 1830. In 1891, a four-column portico was erected (extant today), where the bas-relief was transferred. Maliński’s frieze was divided into three parts and 29 figures were added. The frieze was badly damaged during World War II. The front of the frieze visible today is a copy of the bas-relief that existed before the war. The composition of the sides has been changed and added on. Maliński was probably inspired by Sophocles’s tragedy Oedipus Rex, but this is only evident upon reconstruction of the original relief. All the bas-reliefs visible on today’s façade are copies made by Teresa Rostworowska in 1953–1957. Archival photographs and inventory drawings show that the decorations of the façade had been only slightly damaged, but during the reconstruction it was decided to remove and replace all the bas-reliefs with stone copies (the decorations were originally made of plaster). The authentic fragments are kept in the Museum of Warsaw.