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To Jan as a sign of eternal alliance

02.01-28.04.2019 To Jan as a sign of eternal alliance

The paintings of Jan Cybis from the collections of the National Museum in Krakow and the donation of Jacek Cybis to the National Museum in Krakow.

The collection of works by Jan Cybis (1897–1972), recognised as the leader of the Kapists and the most well-known Polish Colourist, from the NMK collections is presented for the first time in its entirety. It consists of 13 oil paintings created between the 1920s and mid-1960s plus one watercolour (Pejzaż [Landscape], 1947). The oil paintings include Widok Paryża. Pejzaż z Malakoff [View of Paris. Landscape from Malakoff] (1927), Pejzaż z Francji. Motyw z Montereau [Landscape from France. Motif from Montereau] (1928), Kwiaty w kloszu [Flowers in a Vase] (1939), Akt kobiecy [Female Nude] (1947), Pejzaż morski. Port rybacki w Orłowie [Seascape. Fishing port in Orłów] (1960) and Nieborów. Przystanek [Nieborów. Station] (1966).  

Jacek Cybis, the son of the artist, donated to the Museum in 2018 a set of letters from Józef Czapski to his father and also some rare books, including copy number 113 (of 1000) of a numbered edition of the album by Paul Cézanne Carnets de dessins, published in Paris in 1951, with a foreword by John Rewald, as well as copy number 29 (of 50) of an album and diary by Józef Czapski’s good friend Jean Colin d’Amiens (1927–1959), published in Paris in 1961, with a foreword by Józef Czapski and Jacques Desbrière. 

Czapski’s letters, imaginatively composed, covered with notes and addenda in all directions, drawings and watercolour sketches, cross-outs, displaying occasionally peculiar grammar, punctuation, and 19th century spelling, are a memento not only of the way in which the author formulated his thoughts, but also seem to encapsulate the living voice of Czapski. They are a priceless work of the art of painting, as well as the now lost art of letter writing. The original letters were read and transcribed by Maria and Janusz S. Nowak and Jacek Cybis, with editorial work by Agnieszka Kosińska. 

Apart from the original letters, we also exhibit the book The Old Masters by Eugène Fromentin as translated by Cybis, with a dedication for Czapski, Painter’s Notes. Diaries 1954–1966 by Cybis (with commentary added years later by Jacek Cybis). We reproduce pages of the Notes from the war years which were included in issue 11 of the magazine “Twórczości [Creativity]” in 1985 which were the starting point for Cybis’ regular diaries, beginning with … notes on the recent birth of his son Jacek. It is here that we find among others the sentence, “And Czapski, since he had to paint his tram, wasn’t this more of a program and literature?”, as well as a comment on his friend’s book about Pankiewicz, “[…] I’m grateful to Czapski, first of all for the last part, in which he managed to evoke at least some part of that atmosphere which we lived and breathed in over the course of the years in conversation with Pankiewicz about art.” We also reproduce an article by Czapski entitled “Z powodu wystawy, której nie widziałem [Because of the exhibition which I didn’t see]” from issue 7 of the magazine “Kultury [Culture]” from 1948 relating how Cybis painted and how he trained Czapski in the “construction of a canvas with colour.”

One of Czapski’s letters has been left exclusively in the original by the creators of the exhibition, encouraging viewers to read it for themselves.  

Developed by: Agnieszka Kosińska

Exhibition concept and scenario: Agnieszka Kosińska
Curators: Agnieszka Kosińska, Światosław Lenartowicz
Arrangements: Agnieszka  Kosińska, Ewa Morzyniec, Krystyna Zachwatowicz-Wajdowa

MNK The Czapski

ul. Piłsudskiego 12, 31-109 Kraków
  • Monday: closed
  • tue: 10.00-18.00
  • wednesday-sunday: 10.00-16.00
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