February 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021
800,000 PLN has been designated for support of the creative work of Polish artists affected by the pandemic. 160 stipends for the 160th anniversary of the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts is just one of the many actions organised as part of the anniversary celebrations. The society, initiated by a group of friends, gave rise to Zachęta — National Gallery of Art.
160 years ago, a group of friends who met in an atelier at Miodowa Street in Warsaw decided to form a society that would take Polish art and artists under its wing. Poland did not exist on maps at the time, there were no public museums or galleries showing the art of domestic creators, there was no Polish art education or institutions that brought together the community. The shared initiative of artists and art enthusiasts was an act of protest and a chance to save Polish art through building a collection, supporting native creators and educating society. Over the next years, the Society brought about the construction of the building of today’s Zachęta — National Gallery of Art and the creation of a grand public collection. The works that survived the war are currently the core of the Polish art collection of the National Museum in Warsaw.
The society still exists today and carries on its work in the new reality. In answer to the crisis that affected the artistic community during the pandemic, the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts, together with Zachęta, initiated the 160/160 project. Its goal is to collect 800,000 PLN for the support of artists connected with the Zachęta collection. Since June last year, several dozen people have received financial support for their creative work.
In early November 2020, thanks to the joint initiative of artist Joanna Piotrowska and the Society, 50,000 PLN was collected in only 24 hours to support combating violence against women. The artist donated a limited edition of her photographs to those who supported the Feminoteka Foundation. In 2019, thanks to the support of the society, Marek Sobczyk’s Simple Rainbow returned to the square in front of Zachęta after nearly 30 years.
The Zachęta collection has always reflected its times. Its diversity can be traced through the annual series of showings of works from the collection. The first, under the slogan Living Storages: Artibus, relates to the history of the building and accompanies a larger even in the life of the gallery — the revitalisation of the collection storage.
Hanna Wróblewska, Director of Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, explains the role of the Society: ‘In 2021, the Society serves not just as a caretaker for Polish art, but is also a public benefit organisation, which means that through its artistic actions, it wants to respond to the challenges brought by today’s reality’. As members emphasise, the Society is open to all artists and art enthusiasts. ‘In recent years, we have observed more and more young people joining us, prompted by their need to act in response to what is happening in the world. We are creating an excellent intergenerational community of people who want to and can change something together’, says the President of the Society, Natalia Hojny.
The anniversary of the foundation of the Society falls exactly on 13 December 2020, but the activities connected with it began during the first lockdown and will continue in the coming months. Detailed information about the anniversary celebration, the work of the Society and membership conditions can be found at http://tzsp.art.pl.
Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts — an organisation bringing together artists and art enthusiasts, operating under the auspices of Zachęta — National Gallery of Art. Thanks to the support of the Society and the Digital Centre, Zachęta received 6.5 million PLN for the digitalisation and further making available to the public of works in its collection. Moreover, the Society was one of the main founders of the Build the Zachęta Collection with Us campaign and conducted 9 editions of the Alphabet of Art workshops on contemporary art for teachers from small towns.