Kraków – the City of Stanisław Wyspiański

25 May 2017

Icon of the City

Barcelona has Gaudi, Prague has Mucha, Vienna has Klimt, and Kraków has Wyspiański. The Polish artist, printmaker and dramatist is a true icon of Kraków – it’s time to celebrate him!

Festivals, concerts, performances, workshops, exhibitions and an academic conference all form a part of the programme of the latest cultural project Kraków – the City of Stanisław Wyspiański celebrating this exceptional artist.

Stanisław Wyspiański (1869-1907) was one of the most outstanding and versatile artists of the Young Poland movement and the founder of contemporary Polish theatre. Some of his best known dramas, Varsovian Anthem, The Wedding and Liberation, revolutionised perceptions of stage production. His wide-reaching interests – painting, printmaking, typography, poetry and even design – have earned him the nickname of the Polish Leonardo da Vinci.

Kraków’s latest brand

“Stanisław Wyspiański should be celebrated in our city permanently. We want to start working with Kraków’s most important cultural institutions to make a clear statement that Wyspiański can be seen as a Cracovian brand,” declares Andrzej Kulig, Deputy Mayor of Kraków in charge of social policies, culture and promotion. The project marking the 110th anniversary of the artist’s passing brings together the National Museum in Krakow, the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, the Łaźnia Nowa Theatre, the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre and the KTO Theatre. Kraków – the City of Stanisław Wyspiański marks the beginning of a new, long-term cultural strategy.

Wyspiański. Restart

The project kicked off in April, but the cycle of events continues until the end of the year. On 11 June, Łaźnia Nowa Theatre presents the multimedia spectacle Be Like a Meteor… with the participation of actors and symphonic orchestra. Inspired by Wyspiański’s poetry, the event is held as part of the New Boulev(Art) stage by the Nowa Huta Reservoir. On 17 June, the Stanisław Wyspiański Theatre Prize is awarded during Theatre Night (more on p. 10).

“Stanisław Wyspiański was an inspiration; he was a kind of an algorithm of reality, and nothing was ever the same. He drew on heritage and history; he instinctively knew that the city is a process of ongoing legacy, and he wanted to intertwine his own DNA into this legacy,” says Michał Niezabitowski, director of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków. The museum organises the next point of the programme: the traditional Lajkonik Parade from Zwierzyniec to the Main Market Square (22 June). It’s a good reminder that the current outfit worn by the Lajkonik was designed by Wyspiański himself in 1904.

After the summer holidays, the Genius Loci Festival (6-30 September) showcases Kraków and Małopolska’s cultural wealth, presenting six theatre premieres. As part of Poetry Night, held under the banner My Wyspiański!, the KTO Theatre hosts an outdoor spectacle inspired by the theatre drama The Wedding (7 and 8 October). On 23 October, the ICE Kraków Congress Centre hosts a special concert Wyspiański / Konieczny, featuring premieres of songs by Zygmunt Konieczny with excerpts of Wyspiański’s dramas.

The project culminates in November with the theatre festival Wyspiański Liberates organised by the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre, and an academic conference Wyspiański. Restart. On 28 November, the 110th anniversary of the artist’s passing, the National Museum in Krakow opens the exhibition Wyspiański and unveils the stained-glass window Apollo.

“It’s incredible how Wyspiański continues to speak to us from the past. We want our activities to saturate all of Kraków’s spaces and encourage Cracovians and tourists to take part,” declare founders of the campaign. We say yes, yes, thrice yes!

(Justyna Skalska, “Karnet” magazine)

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