POLISH ART IN EXILE
Why in Toruń? In 1995 the Archives of Polish Emigration was established at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. Currently, this is one of the biggest centres in Poland that collects the heritage and mementoes of eminent persons and institutions of Polish emigrant communities, as well as works of art and documentary materials concerning emigrant artists. It is also the only university centre of that kind. The first gifts were the books and drawings left by Józef Czapski in Maisons-Laffitte (a gift of Jerzy Giedroyc, the editor of emigrant "Kultura" monthly), the archives of "Wiadomości" literary weekly of London, numbering about 100 thousand letters and autographs (the gift of Stefania Kossowska), as well as the documentation of the Paris Bookshop Libella and Galerie Lambert (the gift of Kazimierz Romanowicz). Now, after seven years of its activity, the Archives of Polish Emigration holds almost 200 archival collections from all the "Polish world", including manuscripts of all the most outstanding Polish emigrant writers.
How did the Gallery arise? Works of art and archives of emigrant artists have been coming to Toruń since the beginnings of the Archives, but in 2000 they started to be col lected systematically. In reply to an appeal and letters to friends, the Archives was presented with several thousand paintings, sculptures, graphic works and drawings of Polish emigrants. The most valuable were the works by Józef Czapski, Jan Lebenstein, Stanisław Szukalski, Feliks Topolski, Adam Kossowski, Henryk Berlewi, Marian Kratochwil, Janusz Eichler, Ludwik Lille, Władyslaw Jahl, Tadeusz Mysłowski, Stanisław Frenkiel, Adam Muszka, Tadeusz Koper and Marian Bohusz-Szyszko, Caziel. Six gifts deserve special mention. The first is a collection of paintings, drawings and sketches by Marian Kościałkowski of London (the gift of Lidia Kruszyńska-Kościałkowska); the second - a collection of works by Zygmunt Turkiewicz (the gift of Pooka Kępinska); the third - a collection of over a thousand graphic works, sculptures and oils by Aleksander Werner (his own gift from England); the fourth - great archives and works of W. R. Szomański of London (the gift of Krystyna Szomańska); the fifth - six oil paintings of Marek Żuławski of London (the gift of Maryla Żuławska); the sixth, and as it seems - of the greatest worth for potential research - is the gift made by Ryszard Demel of Padua - a collection of drawings, graphic works and above all, carefully collected documents concerning the activity of the group of Polish painters who studied and exhibited their works in Rome (1945-1947) and later in London (1947-2000). The most valuable is the collection of works and mementoes left by Konstanty Brandel, one of the most outstanding Polish graphic artists of the first half of the 20th cent. His gift consists of several hundred well-preserved and signed works in various techniques, sketch-books from travels, drawings, watercolours, gouaches and a few oils (the gift of Witold Leitgeber). In September 2001 Konstanty Brandel's room was established in the Archives, and in the end of 2003 an exhibition of his graphic works is planned.
What does the Gallery of Polish Art in Exile consist of? These are the archives of artists and galleries, catalogues, folders, books, posters, photographs and - the most important - collections of particular artists' works. The collection of original works of art alone currently numbers almost 10 thousand objects of both research and museum value. The Gallery is - it seems - the only such academic collection (non-museum one) in Poland. Its purpose is to document the artistic activity of possibly the greatest number of painters, sculptors and graphic artists working abroad in the 20th cent. This goal has been successfully achieved in the case of almost 500 persons (works, exhibition documentation, biographical notes, photographs, correspondence, etc.). Among the documents and items of art collected there are works of the artists whose whole activity, or the most part of it, developed abroad, but also of such artists who left Poland only in the 1970s or 1980s. There are also paintings and drawings of amateurs, for whom art was a sideline of their creativity in other fields.
The Exhibition. These works of art, although not constantly on display, are shown at various exhibitions in Poland and abroad. The exhibition was opened between November 2002 and May 2003 and organised under the auspices of the Association of Polish Artists in Great Britain. It presented only a small fragment of the Gallery's collections. On the two floors of the annexe of the Nicolaus Copernicus University Library (ul. Gagarina 13) one could see 280 works of 114 artists from a dozen-odd countries of both Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.
The exhibition was provided with a catalogue prepared by Joanna Krasnodębska and Mirosław A. Supruniuk in co-operation with Jarosław Koźminski of London (financed partly by BIG-Bank Gdański S.A.).