Vintage, Modern, Posthumous - Photography from the Collection of Joanna and Krzysztof Madelski


ESSAY by Adam Mazur

Question: What is the subject of all of this?
Answer: There is no subject
- Julia Hartwig, Błyski

Among collectors it was generally accepted to classify prints according to the period in which they were made.  Vintage includes the prints made by the artist right after exposition of the negative, at the time when a photographer works on a set or a series of photographs.  Modern includes the later prints, made by the author from the original negative after some years or decades from taking the photograph.  Posthumous, well, are made already by the inheritors of people in possession of rights to the artist's heritage (hence they are often referred to as "estate prints").  The exhibition at the Vintage Photo Festival is an occasion to have a closer look at classic darkroom prints made by masters of Polish photography, through the prism of this essential, yet not so obvious, criterion.  Photography never ceases to play tricks with artists, gallery owners, and collectors who while hunting for old prints encounter new ones, or are often conditioned to deal with posthumous ones (which, all things considered, still sounds better than "post-mortem"). 




ESSAY by Ewa Toniak

When I look at the photomontages from Ewa Partum’s Self-identification (Samoidentyfikacja, 1980) series in which she, totally nude, crosses the street, stands in a queue, or blends into a crowd of women carrying shopping bags, in my mind’s eye I also see the artist Zofia Kulik,“a woman carrying bags”, running across a street in Mokotów, and jumping out from behind Partum, whose image has been pasted into the photo.

Run, Zofia, run. There’s a long road ahead of us.

Self-identification is probably Ewa Partum’s best-known series, consisting of six photomontages; in all of them, the artist poses nude in various places in central Warsaw. As she herself puts it: “Self-identification is about the places, streets and squares that were part of my daily life at the time”. Feminist critics might make a minor amendment here: these photos all concern the presence of women in public spaces. For example, in one of them, Ewa is standing beside a queue, where five women are bundled up in winter clothing. They are wearing hats and berets, carrying shopping bags and handbags, and some are dressed in high heels; the lone man in the group is lugging a mattress around with him. If not for the intervention of the artist, we would be looking at a scene typical of daily life in the Polish People’s Republic. The artist seems somehow absent, her face reveals no emotions, her gaze, directed outside the frame of the photo, is clearly distant. As in all the photos in the series, she poses nude, but in high heels.




INTERVIEW with Krzysztof Madelski by Katarzyna Dębek, FORBES (photo: Wojciech Robakowski)

Krzysztof Madelski, founder and the president of the YES jewellery company, has created two extraordinary collections: photography and abstract painting. He tells "Forbes" how he started his adventure with art, whether it is a good investment and what a collector dreams of.

Forbes: Is art the entertainment for wealthy people?

Krzysztof Madelski: Art is above all an intellectual luxury. Fortunately, access to culture is often free, open to the general public. It is worth reminding people of that, to help them overcome the biggest obstacle regarding contact with art, which is a mental one. So that they would not say in advance, "I do not understand, I will not bother".




ESSAY by Adam Mazur, curator of the exhibition in The National Museum in Gdańsk

Painting was first, photography appeared later and in the end there was video. This history line also matches the collection of Joanna and Krzysztof Madelski who have been building their collection basing on the creation of artists key to the Polish art of the second part of the 20th century. The collection of Joanna and Krzysztof Madelski has evolved over the years. While the painting has been there since the very beginning, the photography had appeared sporadically until 2009 when it fully developed into a separate assemblage. Intensive purchasing has led to creating a photography collection counting a few hundred items whose selection was presented in the exhibitions Subjects of Gender and Desire in 2012 within the Photofestival in the Poznański Palace belonging to the Łódź Municipal Museum and in 2013 in BWA Art Gallery in Olsztyn. While the first of the expositions had the chronological order and focused on vintage photographs, the one in Olsztyn presented a broader selection of works by contemporary male and female artists, including a range of video shows (among others of Katarzyna Kozyra, Marta Deskur, Martynka Wawrzyniak, Dorota Nieznalska etc).


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