A few months ago, in November 2019, Dr Werner Jerke – German ophthalmologist and a collector of Polish contemporary art released his latest movie ‘The Power of Art.’ This movie shows his subjective point of view on Gruppa’s works, ideas and times on which they were working.
Gruppa was the most important artistic group in Poland in the 1980s. It was never a uniform platform, but what united them was the fact that their works were never indifferent. At the very beginning, Gruppa organised a lot of performances. They were convinced that although they could use painting, photography, film, sculpture and performance, or write literary pieces, what mattered most was the intended message. Therefore the fact that they are pigeonholed by art critics as representatives of the Neue Wilde movement is an oversimplification from the point of view of the history of art. The programme of Gruppa was mostly based on debates. They ardently discussed which words and means of expression they should use to present the intended content to the audience. When communism gave in to capitalism in the 1990s, they needed to deal with materialism as their new reality. They did not want to create artworks for the sake of making a living. So, this was a decisive moment for them – they decided to part their ways.
Gruppa has a special place in Jerke’s collection. He not only buys their works but the members of the Gruppa are his friends. Now he is also preparing a vast catalogue about Gruppa.
It’s good to mention that as a big promoter of Polish culture in Germany, which is very well evidenced by his greatest initiative – Museum Jerke. He built a private Museum of Polish art in Recklinghausen at the Ruhr district. As he told us: ‘I could divide my collection in three groups. The first one is composed of the Polish avant-garde – 20s and 30s. However, there are not only the art works. I’ve collected also almost all publications concerning the 20s and 30s (only in Poland). In my opinion it’s one of the best and most interesting avant-gardes. For instance, look at the cover of the book of poems by Julian Przyboś, “Śruby”, “Z ponad” (“Sponad”) or at the covers by Władysław Strzemiński – is there anything better to see about that period? The second group of my collection, not so ample and a bit “aside” group, represent l’École de Paris – Henri Hayden, Leopold Gottlieb, Louis Marcoussis. The third one is composed of the art works dating from the 60s to nowadays.’ (Read the entire interview here).
We invite you to watch the latest movie about Gruppa directed by Werner Jerke.
Written and directed by: Werner Jerke – Museum Jerke
Starring: Paweł Kowalewski, Ryszard Grzyb, Jarosław Modzelewski, Marek Sobczyk, Ryszard Woźniak, Anda Rottenberg
In cooperation with: Film School in Łódź, INDEX Film Studio