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Reaction to modernism. The Architecture of Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz 23.10.2013-23.04.2014 Reaction to modernism. The Architecture of Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz

Very few people realize the extent to which the contemporary appearance of two historic symbols of Cracow, Market Square and Wawel Castle, was influenced by the architectural and conservation work of Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz (1883‒1948).

It was he, one of the most important Polish architects of the twentieth century, who obtained the most prestigious positions, commissions and projects of the Second Republic. The malicious nickname given to him by his contemporaries ‒ Adolf ‘Everything’ Bohusz ‒ says a great deal about the versatility, ability to reconcile a number of roles and prominent position of this outstanding designer. Yet Szyszko-Bohusz, despite his merits and iconic achievements, remains, outside a circle of specialists, an unknown figure.

The creators of this exhibition dedicated to Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz surprise us with an unusual idea: the exhibition was shown in a building which is itself one of the ‘exhibits’!

The Main Building of the National Museum, originally called the new building, would look quite different if the designs of Szyszko-Bohusz which can be seen at the exhibition had been completed in the 1930s. Today, this building hosts, for the second time, an exhibition put forward by the Institute of Architecture Foundation. Following the success of last year's exhibition ‘In-habitation, Garden City, Gated City’, we offer the public the story of an architect whose works we pass every day in Cracow, and whose oeuvre has become a pretext for the authors of the exhibition to do in-depth research on the architecture of the first half of the twentieth century says Zofia Gołubiew, Director of the National Museum in Cracow.

The exhibition ‘Reaction to modernism: the architecture of Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz’ was the first such broad presentation of the architect’s achievement, considerably exceeding the bounds of a typical monographic exposition. Its aim was to examine how Szyszko-Bohusz ‒ an architect, but also a student of the history of architecture and restorer of the most important national monuments ‒ assimilated modernism into his designs. In Poland between the wars, modernity was a symbol of development and the aspirations of the nascent state, and modernism was promoted to the rank of an official style. At the same time, however, interpretations of the modernist style equally embraced avant-garde ideas, more conservative examples of so-called moderate modernism, and, finally, ‘reactionary’ monumental buildings in a spirit of modernised classicism. Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz expresses himself freely in each of these formulas. His art is marked by the collision of such seemingly opposing trends as conservativism, associated with official propaganda of the government or the financial elite, and his avant-garde, controversy-building formal radicalism.

Unique photographs and projections from the resources of the National Digital Archive and the architect's original drawings from the collections of the National Archives in Cracow, the Archives of the Wawel Royal Castle, the National Museum in Cracow and the Museum of Architecture in Wrocław were available at the exhibition, which was held under the patronage of the President of the Polish Republic, Bronisław Komorowski. As part of the exhibition, visitors were able to see seven specially created architectural models of buildings designed by Szyszko-Bohusz that were never built or that were changed. The strongest emphasis In the arrangement of the exhibition was on an architectonic intervention consisting of the radical ‘purge’ from subsequent reconstruction of one of the National Museum’s temporary exhibition rooms. The authors wishes to reveal the original decorative elements and architectural divisions and to disclose the nature of the building as it was designed in the 1930s. The Museum’s monumental and elegant architecture, typical of the era, will therefore constitute an integral part of the exhibition.

The organisers of the exhibition:

Institute of Architecture, National Museum in CracowCurator: Michał Wiśniewski, in collaboration with Dorota Jędruch, Dorota Leśniak-Rychlak, and Agata WiśniewskaCoordinator: Maria Grzywacz, National Museum in CracowArrangement: Design Office of Lewicki and ŁatakGraphic design: Joanna Sowula

The exhibition was held under the Honorary Patronage of the President of the Polish Republic, Bronisław Komorowski

The exhibition ‘Reaction to modernism: the architecture of Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz’ and the accompanying publication were funded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

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