Young Poland: An Arts and Crafts Movement
9 October 2021 – 30 January 2022
William Morris Gallery, Londyn
In September 2021, the Apollo. System Copernicus stained glass designed by Stanisław Wyspiański set off to London to participate in an exhibition organised by London’s William Morris Gallery. This is the first presentation of the heritage of the Young Poland of this rank outside of Poland. What is more, the work created as part of the Apollo Under Construction project by Piotr Ostrowski with his team is one of the central items at the exhibition, thus becoming a representation of the entire generation of the Polish authors turning to Modernism and reaching to the Medieval and folk handicraft traditions.
Young Poland was a response to the similar tendencies appearing throughout Europe, and the English Arts and Crafts movement in particular. Its premises included a change in the mode of perceiving decorative arts, reviving numerous areas of handicraft, including production of stained glass windows. The Young Poland exhibition focuses, to a great extent, on Stanisław Wyspiański, who is compared to one of the major figures of the contemporary British art scene – William Morris. Both artists shared a strong conviction about the equality of fine and applied arts and made frequent references to nature and history.
Apollo. System Copernicus is one of the most famous stained glass projects of Wyspiański, and at the same time the only one with a secular subject matter. Commissioned by the Medical Society in Kraków, it illustrated the theory of the famous astronomer – the Greek god symbolising the Sun was presented in the centre of the work and images of planets were placed around him in orbits. Unfortunately, it was destroyed almost entirely during WWII. That is why we chose this work as our first project in the Under Construction series, aimed at creating the largest Polish collection of stained glass. Thanks to the original project preserved in the National Museum, a stained glass work faithfully rendering Wyspiański’s idea was created, which can be viewed at the permanent exhibition in the Stained Glass Museum. The “Apollo Under Construction” also received a distinction in the Sybilla 2017 Museum Event of the Year. This is the first prize for a private museum in the history of the competition.