Warsaw: Anna Bilińska’s Retrospective


Anna Bilińska was the first Polish female artist to gain international recognition. Her first solo retrospective at the National Museum in Warsaw takes place just now, in 2021, but it’s better late than never. Bilińska used oil paints, pastels and watercolours to create portraits, still lifes, genre scenes and landscapes in the style of European realism. The artist brilliantly mastered the basics of the painting technique, evidenced by her academic studies of models, which strike the viewer with their synthetic approach to the form and with their casual technique of painting. Of course, the artist also simultaneously continued the clear contour style, exemplified by her Male Nude Study (1885), Study for a Male Nude (ca. 1884-85) and Boy Nude (ca. 1884-85). Sketches for the historical and biblical compositions which Bilińska created in her youth have similar qualities but also display a bold expression of colour juxtaposition, as exemplified by Joseph Interprets Dreams (1883) and Inquisition (1884). Bilińska’s mature works consist predominantly of portraits and portrait studies of various ethnic types which were fashionable at that time. These pieces merge the refined simplicity of realism with an academic discipline of the painting technique, such as Head of a Serb (ca. 1884) or Old Man with a Book (ca. 1890s).Bilińska’s self-awareness and thoughts on the artist’s position in the world, which manifested itself in, among others, the representation of her own image in self-portraits, make her works so powerful. And still, the artist’s entire oeuvre and life story have yet to be thoroughly analysed and rediscovered…

The exhibition is on view until 10th of October 2021.

The National Museum in Warsaw is worth a visit in general! Here are some of my favourite artworks, especially from the 19th and 20th century galleries, from Józef Mehoffer’s enchanting Stange Garden to Jacek Malczewski’s prophetic visions.

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Berlin: The Museum of Natural History

Sometimes, I feel like going to a non-fashion and non-art place! The Museum für Naturkunde – Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science – is an integrated research museum within the Leibniz Association. It is one of the most important research institutions worldwide in the areas of biological and geological evolution and biodiversity. As an excellent research museum and innovative communication platform,the institution wants to engage with and influence the scientific and societal discourse about the future of our planet, worldwide. Their vision, strategy and structure make the museum an excellent research museum. Alongside knowledge transfer, the museum’s research and vast collection are the main pillars of its work. The collection is a unique natural and cultural asset, inextricably linked to our research and comprises over 30 million items covering zoology, palaeontology, geology and mineralogy and is of highest scientific and historical importance. The permanent exhibitions together with regular special exhibitions give the public insights into current research at the museum and highlight original research objects. Visitors are encouraged and inspired to find their own route into science and experience ‘Evolution in Action’ rather than following a given pathway.

Invalidenstraße 43 / Berlin

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Berlin: Canal Eclairs

First thing’s first: so sorry for my blog absence for the couple of days (maybe even weeks, actually). Had a quite tumultuous time, but things’ are finally getting better. Now, time for the delicious part: Berlin‘s Canal, the best spot for crazy good eclairs in the German capital. Having started this compact cafe as an ice cream shop in 2015, co-founders and pastry masters Daniella Barriobero Canal und Guadalupe Eichner decided to move into eclairs to keep customers happy during the winter months. The pair worked intensively to create the best eclairs possible, and if you want to get your hands on one of the seasonal, heavenly varieties they’ve developed, it’s worth to get there early. You won’t want to miss out on the likes of the pistachio and raspberry eclair, with Sicilian nut pastry cream, whipped ganache and fresh berries; or the matcha sesame, which features the best Valrhona Opalys white chocolate. Sneak a couple of these delights home with you in a box when you next stop by for a coffee. 

Rosenthaler Str. 40 / Berlin

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

From Cracow With Love

After the Tary mountains and Zakopane, there’s just no way not to visit Cracow. Historically Poland’s former capital and oldest university town lies in a broad valley on the banks of the Vistula river, and is a treasure house of national culture. Its ancient, elegant Old Town has been placed on the UNESCO list of World Historic Sites. It is ideal for a long weekend break, without the tourist hoards and high prices. Be dazzled by its art and architecture, from baroque to Art Nouveau, renaissance to Gothic, and by the sheer spectacle of the city. Here are some of the gorgeous places I’ve visited this time…

The Józef Mehoffer House is a museum located in the former residence of the painter at 26 Krupnicza street and is listed in the Register of Historical Monuments. It boasts an adjacent, blooming garden extending to the south. In 1932, the house was purchased by Józef Mehoffer who was captivated by its old-fashioned look as well as its spacious courtyard and garden shaded by old green trees. The building already constituted part of the city’s history. Mehoffer carried out its thorough renovation, leaving the structure of the building unchanged but introducing new interior divisions. The process endowed the house with features of a carefully devised family residence, which was dubbed „The Cone Palace”. The outbreak of the war in 1939 interrupted the finishing works. After their return from a German camp in Ash in the Sudetes, the Mehoffers – despite the misery and horror of the occupation – continued the tradition of musical and literary gatherings in their home. It was here that the painter also worked, having lost access to his atelier in the building of the Academy of Fine Arts in Matejko Square. After Józef’s death, the family stayed in the house filled with works of art, archives and memorabilia. As early as in 1963, Zbigniew Mehoffer, the painter’s son, began to expend efforts to create Józef Mehoffer’s museum in Krupnicza street, which bore fruit only many years later. In 1986, in accordance with the will of the artist’s family, the house and the land became the property of the State Treasury and was transferred to the National Museum in Krakow for the purpose of establishing a branch dedicated to the artist. After further renovations and redecorations, the Museum was opened to the public in 1996.

For a proper dose of art and architecture, you should definitely visit St. Francis’s Church with its original, floral polichromies by Stanisław Wyspiański, the Wawel castle and cathedral, and the 19th Century Polish Art Gallery at Sukiennice (in the same building you will find the best store with locally-sourced decorations and traditional, hand-made rugs -“kilim“).

The Princes Cartoryski Museum. The most valuable art collection in Poland, and one of the most valuable ones in Europe. The Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci or the Landscape with the Good Samaritan by Rembrandt van Rijn, as well as many other masterpieces of not only painting, but also sculpture, crafts, military, applied arts, can be viewed in 26 exhibition halls, on two floors of the renovated Princes Czartoryski Museum. In 1801, Princess Izabela Czartoryska née Flemming created a collection of national treasures. The resources she collected were presented in Puławy, in two park pavilions: The Temple of the Sybil, and since 1809 also in the Gothic House. It was in the Gothic House that the Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine and Rembrandt van Rijn’s Landscape with the Good Samaritan were exhibited. During that time, the pearls in the Czartoryski collection also included the Portrait of a Young Man by Rafael Santi (lost during World War II). However, the museum did not survive the November Uprising, and in 1831 – following Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski’s emigration – the collection was transported to Paris. It only made its way back to Poland in 1876, in connection with the scheduled opening of the museum in Krakow. World War II brought about significant losses to the collection. After the war, the museum was taken over by the National Museum in Krakow, and in 1991 fell under the management of the Princes Czartoryski Foundation. On December 29, 2016, thanks to the purchase by the Polish government, the Czartoryski resources became an integral part of the National Museum in Krakow. After all these years, visitors can finally see Czartoryska’s precious collection.

Cracow is also a great place for vintage fashion! Vintage Shop on Szpitalna street has a lovely selection of unique jewellery, designer items and adorable, tapestry bags from 1960s and 70s.

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Hasior Gallery

If you ever decide to visit Zakopane, avoid the main Krupówki street (it’s a really bad looking commercial street…), but check out the “niche” places, like the Willa Koliba and Willa Oksza, or the amazing Władysław Hasior Gallery. Born in 1928 in Nowy Sącz, Władysław Hasior is one of the most remarkable modern, Polish artists. From 1959 he participated in every regional Zakopane artist ehxibitions and Art School Complex painters performances. In the 60s and 70s, Hasior showed his works on many national and foreign exhibitions. His works were transported from small workshop to the gallery by Jagiellońska street in 1984. The gallery was located inside former resting site of “Warszawianka” sanatorium, built by Wacław Nowakowski in 1935. Wooden resting site had two floors, glazed from south. Thanks to this transformation, the multilevel ehibitional interiors were created, often used as concert halls and living rooms or atelier of Hasior. In Władysław Hasior Gallery, various artworks found their place, like banners, assamblages, compositions and sculptures made from “trash” materials and junky, everyday items. Bearing metaphoric, ironic and contrary titles, they provoke reflection on the modern world and art, just as Poland’s history.

Jagiellońska 16 B / Zakopane

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.