The largest display of this type at any museum in Poland, the Gallery offers focused exploration of the main streams in 20th-century Polish art represented by a selection of over 400 works.
Four sizeable showrooms are dedicated to the most illustrious Polish artists, Stanisław Wyspiański, Olga Boznańska, Tadeusz Kantor and Andrzej Wróblewski, and two smaller rooms feature the oeuvre of Xawery Dunikowski, Maria Jarema and Katarzyna Kobro.
The next two section of this exhibition highlight key artistic movements originating from Krakow and Poland, hence their names: the Young Poland Gallery and the Krakow Group Gallery.
The art of the Polish antebellum meets the art of the 1980s and 1990s in the two hallways with mezzanines, manifestly emphasising two (multifaceted) streams: figurative and geometric.
The core and chronological beginning of this installation are defined by works of Young Poland artists, most of whom were strongly tied with Krakow. Their works are on view in the Young Poland Gallery, the Wyspiański Room and the Boznańska Room. Canvases by Witold Wojtkiewicz (e.g. Fantasy, 1906 or Meditation, 1908), Wojciech Weiss (e.g. Demon, 1904), Józef Pankiewicz (e.g. Swans At Night, 1896, A Girl In A Red Dress, 1897), landscapes of the Tatra mountains and portraits by Leon Wyczółkowski, works by Władysław Ślewiński (e.g. A Woman Combing Her Hair, 1897), A Winter Tale (1904), or Ferdynand Ruszczyc’s landscapes and Jacek Malczewski’s symbolic compositions (Self-Portrait in White Outfit, 1914) make it the best Polish collection of art of that period.
The interesting collection of Olga Boznańska’s masterworks with the celebrated Girl With Chrysanthemums (1894) is accompanied by canvases by Tadeusz Tadé Makowski and Mela Muter. A distinct position in the Boznańska Room is occupied by landscapes by Jan Stanisławski and his school (Józef Czajkowski, Stanisław Kamocki and Henryk Szczygliński) as well as Colourists and artists of the Paris Committee.
Definitely the most important Young Poland works on show at the Gallery are the monumental cartoons of stained-glass windows by Stanisław Wyspiański (the fabled Wawel Cartoons) and Józef Mehoffer (for the Cathedral in Fribourg, Switzerland).
Supplemental to the painting gallery - yet by no means less precious - are the holdings of Modernist sculpture with landmark works of Xawery Dunikowski, Konstanty Laszczka, Stanisław Kazimierz Ostrowski and Wacław Szymanowski.
The output of the artistic generation active in the interwar period is surveyed in the works of Formists (Leon Chwistek, Tytus Czyżewski, Zbigniew Pronaszko) and the School of Paris (Alicja Halicka, Moses Kisling and Eugeniusz Zak and others). They are a good introduction to the post-war geometric work of Jan Berdyszak, Adam Marczyński or Jan Pamuła. This section of the exhibition concludes with pieces by practitioners of pre-war avant-garde (Katarzyna Kobro, Henryk Stażewski and Władysław Strzemiński) and the end-of-20th-century conceptual and minimal art of Marek Chlanda.
The Kantor Room showcases painting by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (aka Witkacy) coupled with works by Tadeusz Brzozowski, Andrzej Pawłowski and – obviously – the room’s name-giver, Tadeusz Kantor.
The Krakow Group Gallery offers a handsome selection of paintings by Stanisław Fijałkowski, Kazimierz Mikulski, Jerzy Nowosielski, Jonasz Stern and Jerzy Tchórzewski, as well as sculptures by Jerzy Bereś, Wanda Czełkowska and Maria Pinińska-Bereś.
The Andrzej Wróblewski Room brings together canvases by members of the Wprost group and the GRUPPA.
A separate display has been arranged for Jerzy Panek’s singular prints and paintings.