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The art collection

Throughout the long years of its existence, the Literary Institute has collected many artworks. However, not being an art museum, for obvious reasons this collection was not created according to any particular plan. It is rather evidence of visits, contacts, and often friendship with artists associated with “Kultura”. Most of the artworks in the Institute's inventory came from donations.

Undoubtedly, the most important figure who left a mark on this institution was Józef Czapski, a long-term resident of the house in Maisons-Laffitte. It was here that he wrote, drew and painted for almost the entire period of his post-war, busy life. Today, a gallery of portraits by him, depicting personalities who have gone down in the history of our culture, decorates the stairs leading to the first floor. We can see there the images of: Zygmunt Hertz, Marek Hłasko, Gustaw Herling-Grudziński, Jerzy Giedroyc, Stefan Kisielewski, Józef Łobodowski, Sławomir Mrożek and Bohdan Osadczuk. The Institute's collection also includes other oil compositions by the artist, depicting genre scenes and still lifes. The collection is complemented by numerous works on paper ‑ ink sketches and watercolors, partly decorating the walls, partly hidden in drawers. Several of them, sketched in Iraq, have a documentary value, recalling Czapski’s journey during the war years.

Another painter who strongly marked his presence at the Institute was Jan Lebenstein. Among the dozen of his works, it is worth noting such works as Sainte Paula, Image Double, Enlèvement de l’Europe, in which we find typical fantastic-surreal motifs with a strongly erotic flavor. Lebenstein’s most original work, constituting an inseparable part of the house on Avenue de Poissy, is undoubtedly the window in Zygmunt Hertz’s room, painted in the 1970s. Lithographic boards also decorate one of the rooms on the first floor.

Among the artists close to “Kultura” through her relationship with another collaborator ‑ Konstanty A. Jeleński ‑ there is his life companion and wife, Léonor Fini. In addition to several poetic compositions on paper, a three-dimensional mask painted on a piece of bark attracts attention.

Next in turn, the painter Arika Madeyska, known in Parisian artistic circles, left seven of her works here, two of which are unusual ‑ they are painted chests, one in the African style, the other in the Kashubian style.

Naive painting is represented by three watercolors by Nikifor. There is also an opportunity to see two paintings by Henryk Józefski, better known for his independence and political activities.

Among the classics of Polish painting, Jan Cybis is worth mentioning, represented by one oil and two watercolors. We can find also individual paintings by Rafał Malczewski, Włodzimierz Terlikowski, Marek Oberländer, Tomasz Dominik and others.

The collection of paintings is complemented by graphics by, among others, Brandel, Jastrzębowski, Czermański and Kulisiewicz, a number of engravings from the 17th-19th centuries and maps related to the history of Poland, which were collected by Jerzy Giedroyc and Zygmunt Hertz. The entire collection of about 150 items briefly described here was inventoried in 2011.

Krzysztof Zagrodzki

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