“The Primitive” from Powiśle. Leon Kudla 1879-1964
New temporary exhibition from 13th October 2023 to 11th February 2024.
About the exhibition
The exhibition presents the work of Leon Kudła – a sculptor considered one of the most outstanding representatives of non-professional art in post-war Poland.
Leon Kudła’s works are a record of the cultural phenomenon that was the flourishing of non-professional art in post-war Poland. This phenomenon was usually presented as spontaneous and unmediated, but in fact it was born and continued under the influence of activity, patronage of collectors and urban cultural fashion.
The artist’s works that will be presented at the exhibition has come from the Museums own collection, some of the objects belonging to the MMW deposit are noteworthy. The works were part of the collection from the studio of sculptor Karol Tchorek – a long-time friend of Leon Kudła. In post-war Poland, the artist was considered an influential art dealer and animator of artistic life. Critics presented him as a “discoverer”, “protector”, “benefactor” and propagator of Kudła’s work. Karol Tchorek was strongly associated with the works stored in Smolna Street, they were among his favorites and he did not want to donate them or sell them to the Museum during his lifetime.
About the artist
Born in the village of Świerże Górne near Kozienice, Leon Kudła began sculpting in Warsaw’s Powiśle district, where he worked at the post office and ran a family store. Despite the success of his first exhibitions, he returned to his hometown. There, from poplar wood, he created figures of saints and birds with monumental shapes. Kudła was often compared by critics with Nikifor – the duo was presented as the “most outstanding” among naive Polish artists.
We hope that our exhibition will remind you of this extraordinary artist and encourage you to re-read both his art and the stories devoted to him. We believe that this exhibition will become an impetus for reflection on the change that has taken place in the approach to the figure of a folk artist on the basis of ethnology, as well as a starting point for this study towards a kind of self-recognition as a myth-creating discipline, not only examining but also creating a portrait of the “Other” .
Graphic design: Magdalena Sobolska