Wyspiański Liberates

24 October 2017

Stanisław Wyspiański’s entire life, from birth until death, was linked with Kraków. The leading representative of the Young Poland movement – known as the artist who “loved Kraków” and who “loved it so much he hated it” – is also incredibly important in the city’s emotional sphere.

This year marks the 110th anniversary of Wyspiański’s passing, and 2019 will mark the 150th anniversary of his birth. The dramatist, reformer of theatre, poet, painter, printmaker, artist and furniture designer passed away on 28 November 1907, aged just 38. To commemorate both occasions, Kraków hosts a year-long project Kraków: The City of Stanisław Wyspiański. The project of the City of Kraków kicked off in spring this year with the campaign Wyspiański in the Outdoors, with Cracovians planting herbs and flowers depicted in the artist’s Herbarium notebook in front of the Main Building of the National Museum. Activities included the Lajkonik parade and guided tours in the footsteps of Wyspiański. The artist also made an appearance during the Genius Loci Festival in September. In October, ICE Kraków hosted the special concert Konieczny for Wyspiański, while this year’s 7th Poetry Night was held under the banner My Wyspiański. The Trail of Stanisław Wyspiański, prepared by the National Museum in Krakow, showed our city through the eyes of the acclaimed artist.

The project culminates in November. On 18 November, the Historical Museum invites us to the Rydlówka Regional Museum of the Young Poland movement for the traditional ceremony of covering rose bushes with straw, commemorating the wedding of Lucjan Rydel and Jadwiga Mikołajczykówna in 1900 – the basis for Wyspiański’s most famous drama The Wedding.

The Juliusz Słowacki Theatre hosts the next instalment of the project Wyspiański Liberates (11, 12 November). At the Małopolska Garden of Arts, Paweł Świątek premieres his interpretation of Wyspiański’s drama Bolesław the Bold; using the historical example of the confrontation between King Bolesław and Bishop Stanisław, the director portrays tensions between politics and the Church. The theatre’s Main Stage also presents Liberation – the great treatise on theatre and patriotism, squaring up to the myths of Romanticism, is brought by Radosław Rychcik, a director well known for his unusual takes on stage traditions.

The Main Building of the National Museum hosts a permanent exhibition of Wyspiański’s designs of stained-glass windows. On 28 November, they become a part of the monographic exhibition Wyspiański – a multifaceted presentation of the artist’s works including the stained-glass window Tethered Apollo, reconstructed especially for the exhibition following original designs. The exhibition is the perfect opportunity to open a dialogue about Wyspiański’s vision of what it means to be Polish at the threshold of the Year of Independence.

The conference Wyspiański. Restart (20-22 November). is also held in November. The programme includes masterclasses, debates with the participation of leading Polish scholars, representatives of the media and theatre, sociologists, philosophers, historians and historians of art and literature.

As stressed by the organisers, the project isn’t aiming to be just an anniversary. “It marks the start of far-reaching urban policies,” states Andrzej Kulig, Deputy Mayor of Kraków for social policies, culture and promotion. He adds, “Stanisław Wyspiański’s works have long been a source of inspiration in many fields. We want to make it clear that Wyspiański is one of Kraków’s leading icons.” (Barbara Zając, Karnet magazine)

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