The Stedelijk Museum presents the first retrospective in the Netherlands of Edward Krasiński (1925-2004), one of the most notable Eastern European artists of the 20th century and a leading figure in the Polish avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s.
The exhibition explores Krasiński’s entire artistic career, from the sculptures made using found objects in the early 1960s, to the installations produced at the turn of the 21st century. Krasiński took an experimental approach to making and exhibiting his art. Krasiński was inspired by pre-war avant-garde movements such as Polish Constructivism. In his work, he combined a wry sense of humour with a Dadaist fascination with chance.
Inspired by prewar avant-garde movements such as Polish Constructivism, Krasiński’s work combines a wry sense of humor and a fascination with chance. The retrospective features over fifty works, including suspended objects and wire sculptures, that testify to his interest in sculpture as line. In 1968 he introduced blue Scotch tape into his work. This simple, ready-to-use material, with which he connected spaces and objects, would become his trademark. Explaining its role in his work, he said, “I place it horizontally at a height of 130 centimeters everywhere and on everything. I encompass everything with it and go everywhere.”
The turbulent summer of 1968 saw Polish students and intelligentsia protesting for greater freedom. After quashing the revolt, the government prohibited gatherings of more than three people. Krasiński and his friends challenged the regime by organizing Farewell to Spring, a ball to which the most influential figures of the Polish avant-garde were invited. Held in a carnivalesque setting, the event was a fusion of installation, happening, and party. It was an important moment for Krasiński – from that point on, his focus centered on transforming his immediate environment.
The exhibition presents spatial installations by Krasiński in which he paired photography and sculpture. Krasiński’s Warsaw studio – where he lived, worked, and hosted gatherings of artists, writers, and intellectuals – is the subject of a film, Edward Krasiński’s Studio (2012), by French-American filmmaker Babette Mangolte. The retrospective also explores the less well-known performative aspects of his work, as well as his connection with artists such as Daniel Buren and Tadeusz Kantor.
KRASIŃSKI AND THE STEDELIJK MUSEUM
Krasiński’s work is related to the minimal and conceptual art movements of the 1960s and ’70s, international movements that are amply represented in the Stedelijk Museum’s collection. While Krasiński’s oeuvre, itself a valuable contribution to modern art, has been rediscovered in recent years by a younger generation of artists and curators, it remains largely unfamiliar to the general public. According to curator Leontine Coelewij, “Krasiński is comparatively unrecognized because we previously knew very little about what went on in the communist countries behind the Iron Curtain. At the time, we were hardly aware that modern art was also being made in Poland. This exhibition underscores the significance of his career, which spanned four decades.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Krasiński was born in 1925 in Lutsk (now Ukraine) and studied at the art academy in Kraków during the 1940s. In 1954 he moved to Warsaw, where he met a group of artists and critics inspired by the avant-garde and with whom he founded Foksal Gallery, the leading platform for progressive art in Warsaw from 1964 onwards. During his lifetime, Krasiński exhibited widely in Poland, also in New York, Paris, and Tokyo (Tokyo Biennale, 1970).