Atlas of Modernity. The 20th and 21st Century Art Collection

“The Atlas of modernity is a story told through works from the collection of the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź. Modernity is understood here as a set of ideas, tensions, and energies directly or indirectly influencing social reality up to this day. In the publication you are now holding, the story takes the form of a visual and textual collage. Its point of departure is an exhibition that opened at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź in the beginning of 2014, prepared under the direction of Jarosław Suchan by a curatorial team consisting of Aleksandra Jach, Paulina Kurc-Maj, Maria Morzuch, Anna Saciuk-Gąsowska, Joanna Sokołowska, Katarzyna Słoboda, and Magdalena Ziółowska.
Neither the exhibition nor this book intend to lay out the history of modernism or the history of modernist art. Instead of providing a chronological and orderly narrative, we offer a montage of ideas about modernity and traces of modernity visible in 20th- and 21st-century art. The category of the “atlas” points to the construction of the exhibition and the book - they are both a collection of “maps,” each of which describes a topography of a different “territory” of modernity. Not all territories have been described here. However, the incomplete character of this collection and its collage method of organization seem to best reflect the modern experience of reality, its inevitable fragmentary and discontinuous character.
This publication aims to convey the construction of the exhibition in the form of a book - a goal that cannot be fully accomplished. It is impossible to convey the exhibition in its entirety. The book however develops additional contexts. The first essay presents methodological frameworks, through which the category of the “atlas” describes modernity. This perspective is further developed in thirteen chapters. These short essays, authored by researchers specializing in given fields, are devoted tospecific phenomena of modernity. They are accompanied by reproductions of works presented at the exhibition. Additionally, each chapter opens with a collage prepared by Witek Orski especially for this publication. Orski juxtaposes elements of works derived from different parts of the “atlas.” By moving and mixing images the artist opens modernity to new transformations and interpretations.
It is not a coincidence that modernity has become the crucial topic of reflection in the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź. It is this institution that became home to one of the first collections of modernist art. It is here that the image of artistic modernism was created and where hierarchies - ones operating in Polish art till today - were established. Most importantly, it is here that the idea of the museum was coupled with the modern idea of critical reflexivity. The Muzeum Sztuki was supposed to inspire a critical way of seeing the world - in both its artistic and vernacular forms. We wanted the “Atlas of modernity” to help develop such sensibility as well.”


Published by: Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź
Texts: Jarosław SuchanMaria PopczykAgnieszka Rejniak-MajewskaWiktor MarzecTomasz SwobodaAgata ZysiakAndrzej Szczerski, Piotr SłodkowskiTomasz Majewski, Iwona KurzKarol JóźwiakKatarzyna BojarskaPaweł Mościcki, Ewa MajewskaAgata Pietrasik
Editing: Anna Saciuk-GąsowskaJarosław SuchanŁukasz Zaremba
Publishing coordinator: Andżelika Bauer
Graphic design and typesetting: Honza Zamojski / szaransky.biz

ISBN 978-83-63820-56-5
Published in 2017
Format: 21,7 x 29 x 2,5 cm
Soft cover
Pages: 321
Illustrations: ca.409 (96 black and white and 313 colour)
Language: Polish and English edition

This publication accompanies the exhibition “Atlas of Modernity. The 20th and 21st Century Art Collection”. The exhibition is on display in Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź.

You can purchase this publication by emailing us at:  ksiegarnia@msl.org.pl  


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