Independence. Around the historical thought of Józef Piłsudski
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A lot of museums prepared exhibitions related to the 100th anniversary of Polish independence. The one at the National Museum in Krakow differs from them with a strict relationship with the historical thought of Józef Piłsudski – creator of Polish Legions, architect of independence, but also the strategist, publicist and inquiring analyst of Polish history.
His numerous works, published in 10 volumes of Collected Works, include press articles, historical studies, speeches, lectures, orders, and interviews. "The most important idea, recurring in Józef Piłsudski's works in different contexts, is the independence of Poland", says the exhibition's curator Wacława Milewska. "Before regaining it, the future Marshall vividly pictures the restrictions, repressions, physical and spiritual suffering that the nation devoid of independence is subject to. After 1921, he stresses, how easy it is to lose this independence.
A lot of artists felt the captivity and experienced current events in a way similar to that of Piłsudski. It is their works – 779 of them – that constitute the exhibition at the NMK. We will show paintings, graphics, and sculptures of great Polish artists (including Jacek Malczewski, Józef Mehoffer, Leon Wyczółkowski, Leopold Gottlieb, Juliusz and Wojciech Kossak, Artur Grottger) but also uniforms, maps, weapons, orders and medals, archival photographs. The majority of the objects come from NMK collection, however, in order to illustrate the most important motifs of the exhibition, we have borrowed works of art from several dozen Polish and international institutions. They include the Polish Library in Paris, Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Angers, Snite Museum of Art from Indiana (USA) and Polish National Museums in Warsaw, Wrocław, and Poznań.
The exhibition is not presented in Krakow without a reason – it is a place that Piłsudski was strongly related to. He lived here in the years 1900-1917, funded Riflemen's Association here and set off to fight in a war against Russia. This is where he was paid tribute after dismissing from Polish Legions, where he came many times after war and where was buried in the vaults of the Cathedral.