Frank Stella and Synagogues of Historic Poland

Kolorowy geometryczny motyw składający się z trójkątów i prostokątów
Frank Stella, Bogoria IV, 1971, technika mieszana, kolekcja Ralpha DeLuki © 2015 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Between 19 February and 20 June 2016, POLIN Museum will host an exhibition of works by Frank Stella who is regarded one of the leading artists of the 20th century. Aside from admiring the New York-based artist’s extraordinary works, visitors will also have a chance to explore the fascinating history of their creation and to find out how Jewish sacral architecture - destroyed by the Nazis and no longer extant - inspired this modern American painter.

A book devoted to wooden synagogues by Polish architects Kazimierz and Maria Piechotka which Frank Stella had once come across became the link between various eras and different cultures. In the early 1970s, fascinated by the beauty of Jewish synagogues, Stella began working on the Polish Village series. Each of his works received the name of a town where a wooden synagogue had once stood.

The exhibition curators, in close cooperation with Frank Stella, decided to present not only selected reliefs from the series, but also the course of Stella's creative process. The exhibition will follow Stella's sources of inspiration, i.e. pre-war photographs and architectural drawings of synagogues created as part of the inventory conducted by the Warsaw University of Technology's Polish Architecture Unit, with which the Piechotkas closely cooperated. Many of the photographs were taken by Szymon Zajczyk, a Jewish cataloguer and art historian who perished in the Warsaw ghetto. Visitors will be able to follow subsequent stages of Frank Stella's work on the Polish Villages: preparatory and dimensional drawings, wooden monochromatic relief models, painted cardboard models and finally the process’ culmination –large format painted reliefs.

The Frank Stella and Synagogues of Historic Poland exhibition is a unique opportunity to meet the person universally regarded as one of the most important American artists of the 20th century. His works are displayed in the biggest contemporary art museums around the world and reach astronomical prices of more than ten million dollars in auctions. Frank Stella has become a living legend - he is still working and his oeuvre continues to fascinate subsequent generations of art lovers.

However, the new exhibition at POLIN Museum goes beyond a standard monograph of an individual artist or a single series. By presenting the achievements of people without whom Stella's works would not have been created, i.e. researchers and students affiliated with the Warsaw University of Technology, visitors will have an opportunity to learn about the vitality of Polish Jewish culture which continues to inspire despite the material destruction of the Jewish world.

The Frank Stella and Synagogues of Historic Poland exhibition will be available for viewing at POLIN Museum in Warsaw between 19 February and 20 June 2016.

Open Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays: 10 AM - 6 PM; Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays: 10 AM - 8 PM.

Tickets at PLN 12/PLN 8, free admission on Thursdays.

  • Curator and author of the exhibition concept: Artur Tanikowski
  • Author of the original exhibition concept: Clifford Chanin
  • Exhibition coordinator: Ewa Witkowska
  • Exhibition design: Jan Strumiłło
  • Key visual for the exhibition: Piotr Młodożeniec 
  • Graphic design and typesetting of the exhibition catalogue: Marcin Władyka / studio headmade
  • Exhibition production: IKG / Aleksander Sieklicki
  • Art projects accompanying the exhibition: Jan Mioduszewski; Katarzyna Kijek / Przemysław Adamski

Exhibition co-organizers

Warsaw University of Technology, Art Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Institutions assisting in the implementation of the project

Frank Stella Studio; Marianne Boesky Gallery; New York and Dominique Lévy, New York/London; Tufts University, Medford, MA; Charles Riva Collection; Levin Art Group; 

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