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American Dream

2 July 2009  -  4 October 2009

Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie – Gmach Główny, Al. 3 Maja 1







      “America, America..” is one of the largest museum projects in Poland, encompassing six exhibitions and an extensive interdisciplinary educational programme and happening not only in the museum itself, but, first and foremost, in and around the city. The “American Dream” exhibition, the project’s most important element, organised on the ninetieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Poland and the USA, is a venture both artistic and educational.  The underlying concept is to create an exhibition around the people, phenomena and notions linked with American culture and of significance to the generations of Poles whose youth was spent in the 1950s, 60s and 70s under the realities of the People’s Republic of Poland and its political propaganda. It thus embraces the facts that became a part of our collective consciousness and helped to shape our world view. “The American Dream” is a kind of artistic and educational experiment., presenting not only works of art, but also installations, films, including documentaries, large format photographic prints and sound tracks created especially for the project.


      The most notable part of the exhibition is the display of works by American photorealists, on show for the first time in Poland. Their paintings are a window on to American reality in its most characteristically typical manifestations. The ‘father’ of American photorealism is the New York art dealer and collector, Louis K. Meisel who, in 1969, opened a gallery in Manhattan’s Soho district, primarily promoting the photorealists’ work. It was also he who coined the term ‘photorealism’, as well as formulating its theory and setting out its direction. Louis Meisel is the author of numerous books and monographs on the subject, while his gallery is well-known to cinema and TV audiences via the hit film and series, Sex in the City.

      “The American Dream” features forty-one works by twenty of the most distinguished photorealists, including Ralph Goings, Richard Estes, Robert Cottingham, and Robert Bechtle. Their works have never before been exhibited in Poland, although photorealism is known to Europe through myriad exhibitions, the most recent of which being Picturing America: Photorealism in the 1970s at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. The joint curator of both the Berlin exhibition and ours, is Louis K. Meisel.


      Along with the exhibition come two special publications:

      • a lexicon of the people and concepts linked to the exhibition, containing ca. 300 entries
      • an album of the works on show, accompanied by texts on photorealism, its history and techniques, catalogue notes and writings introducing the works to the reader.

      An educational programme goes hand in hand with the exhibition, happening not only in the Museum itself, but also around the city at a multitude of well-known and popular sites, including Klub Alchemia, Galeria Pauza, Kino Mikro, and Klub Lokator.


      “The American Dream” forms a unique part of the American Season being held this year at the National Museum in Krakow and will undoubtedly be the main attraction.  The season also features:

      • Weegee. From the Hendrik Berinson collection (May – July), Main Building
      • The Polish Museum of America graphics collection (September – December), the Wyspiański Museum (Kamienica Szołayskich)

      ·         Art or advert ? (July – September), Main Building. An exhibition of original advertising designs, in oils, gouache and pastels, created for the Coca Cola company in the 1950s,  60s and 70s

      ·         Jam Session. America’s Ambassadors of Jazz Hit the Road (August – September), Main Building. Photographs documenting the American jazzmen who played Poland in the 1950s

      • The First Step... featuring canvases by Eric Fisch and Philip Taaffe, photographs by David LaChapelle and, in pride of place, collages by Andy Warhol (until December 2009), Main Building


      The very structure of the special summer 2009 programme offers immense promotional potential, with the exhibition being promoted as part of the joint “America, America…” project.




      Coordinator: Olga Jaros

      Curators: Magdalena Czubińska, Louis K. Meisel

      Programme: Magdalena Czubińska

      In collaboration with: Jerzy Armata, Jolanta Szymkowska-Bartyzel, Zofia Gołubiew, Maria Hussakowska, Janusz Jabłoński, Olga Jaros, Susan Parker-Burns, Iwona Sadecka and Miłosz Urbanik

      Exhibition layout: Andrzej Witkowski

      In collaboration with: Monika Czubińska


      Art work: Rafał Bartkowicz

      Editor: Anna Kowalczyk


      Promotion: Agnieszka Oprządek

      Funds sourcing: Beata Majcher

      Multimedia: Maksymilian Berkowicz, Wojciech Pazik

      Educational Programme: Anna Bujnowska, Anna Grajewska


      Interviews: Grzegorz Jasiński


      The National Museum in Krakow extends its sincere thanks to the following people for their cooperation: Luiza Berdak, Agnieszka Grabowska, Bogdan Ruśnica, Andrzej Sęp, Krystyna Stefaniak, Jarosław Szklarczyk,  Aleksandra Waligóra, Andrzej Zimnicki, Smart Studio





      adults PLN 10, concessions PLN 5, family tickets (max 5 person, 2 adults + 3 children) PLN 20, groups (min. 15 person) PLN 8, groups concessions (min. 15 person) PLN 4.




      Exhibition Coorganizers:

      Konsulat Generalny USA w Krakowie


      Uniwersytet Jagielloński

      Louis K. Meisel Gallery


      Exhibition partner:



      Exhibition Sponsors:




      Thanks to:






      Media patrons: TVN 24

      Polskie Radio, Radio Kraków, AMS, Gazeta Wyborcza, Polityka, Tygodnik Powszechny,, Art&Business, Polish Market, Miesięcznik Kraków,, Magiczny Kraków, Kurs na Kurs, Krakow Post,, Galeria Kazimierz, Kijów.centrum


      John Baeder, Pappy's Place, Nashville, TN, 1985, olej, płótno © John Baeder, Louis K. and Susan P. Mesel Family Collection
      Robert Bechtle, Alameda Chrysler, 1981, olej, płótno lniane, © Robert Bechtle, Louis K. and Susan P. Mesel Family Collection
      Tom Blackwell, Sagaponack Sunday, 2003, olej, płótno lniane, © Tom Blackwell, Louis K. and Susan P. Mesel Family Collection
      Robert Cothingham, Bud, 1996, litografia © Robert Cothingham, Louis K. and Susan P. Mesel Family Collection
      Richard Estes, Pressing, 1978, akryl, deska © Richard Estes, Louis K. and Susan P. Mesel Family Collection
      Copyright (c) 2006-2009 National Museum in Krakow