Symposium: Stella, Abstract Art, and Synagogues

Frank Stella, Olkienniki III, 1972, private collection © 2016 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Symposium accompanying the exhibition "Frank Stella and Synagogues of Historic Poland", 12 May 2016, free admission


The one-day academic symposium accompanying the exhibition Frank Stella and Synagogues of Historic Poland aims to broaden the area of research and interpretation proposed in the exhibition concept.

Frank Stella’s Polish Village series reached beyond the “here and now” of its age, much as wooden synagogues did in their time. The sacred structures no longer exist, although their visual traces serve as a cultural vehicle that prompts us not only to seek new areas for comparative or specialist research, but also – through its poignancy – to step beyond historic wooden architecture (as in contemporary artworks inspired by synagogue architecture).

The diversity of topics proposed by the organizers stems from the idea and content of the exhibition: beginning with issues pertaining to Frank Stella’s art (such as minimalism, post-art abstraction and neo-constructivism), through the interpretation of Stella’s “Polish” series (abstract art and the Holocaust, links between the visual arts and architecture, or between the visual arts and photography, especially contemporary art and inventory photography) to present-day research on Stella’s inspirations: the state of research on synagogue architecture, and the history and practice of synagogue surveying, be it via photography or drawing.

Free admission. Languages of the symposium: Polish, English (simultaneous translation) 

Program of the symposium in .pdf version: >>to be downloaded here<<


10:00 – 11:00 AM Curated tour of the exhibition Frank Stella and Synagogues of Historic Poland

11:00 – 11:30 AM Coffee Break

11:30 AM – 1:30 PM SESSION I: Stella, Abstract Art, Holocaust Memory (part 1)

Dr. Artur Tanikowski (POLIN Museum, Warsaw)
Stella at POLIN Museum: Abstracting Living Memory, Sublimating Non-Existent Architecture

Dr. Filip Lipiński (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań)
The Layered Painting: Medium, Structure, and Memory in Frank Stella’s Polish Villages

Paweł Polit (Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź)
The Literalness of Shape and Its Emancipations: Stella, Strzemiński, Szpakowski, Jurkiewicz

1:30 – 2:15 PM Break

2:15 – 3:30 PM SESSION I: Stella, Abstract Art, Holocaust Memory (part 2)

Prof. Gregor Stemmrich (Freie Universität Berlin)
No Abstraction from Holocaust

Dr. Agnieszka Rejniak-Majewska (University of Łódź)
Idioms of Universalism , Signs of Memory: the Double Discourse of American Abstractionism

3:30 – 4:00 PM Coffee Break

4:00 – 6:00 PM SESSION II: Wooden Synagogue – Research and Researchers

Dr. Sergey R. Kravtsov (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)
Wooden Synagogues of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: Between the Polish and Jewish Narratives

Dr. Wojciech Wółkowski (Warsaw University of Technology)
First There Was an Architect… The Role of Architects in the Documentation of and Research on Wooden Synagogues

Piotr Jamski (Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences)
Photographic Documentation of Synagogues in Polish Lands: Background, Scope, Practice


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