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Art, Architecture and Design in Poland 966 - 1990 An Introduction
Muthesius, Stefan, 108 pages, 323 illustrations., of which 121 in full colour; 27x21 cm, hardbound.
ISBN 3-7845-7611-7, UVP 9.80 EUR

Outside their own country the art and architecture of Poland are still virtually unknown. A few images of Cracow or Warsaw may spring to mind and Central Europeans recall buildings in Silesia and the Baltic cities - but these, surely, belong to German rather than Polish art? Such a statement must, today, be regarded as superficial, if not misleading. The Gothic architecture of Western and Northern Poland constituted just two of a plethora of regional, or `provincial' schools of Europe. The Renaissance art of Danzig had its home chiefly in the Netherlands. But, of course, the same can be said of most of the art in central Poland: The `Polish Renaissance' was virtually a direct import from Italy, high-class art in the 18th Century was derived from France and the landscaped garden from Britain - not to speak of cosmopolitan Neo- Classicism, or universal Modernism. Was there ever a `Polish Art', strictly speaking? The same question, can, of course, also be asked about `German Art' and about the art and architecture of many other countries.

The fact, however, is that, ever since the late 18th Century, there has been an attempt to define certain forms or themes in art as specifically `Polish'. It began with the depiction of great national events, with a love for the details of `national' dress and the Polish landscape. Architects, critics and preservationists began their campaigns to characterise older buildings as belonging to a `National style'. All this occured just at the time when the Germans emphasised the `Germanness' of all art within Germany, and even beyond its borders, for example in adjacent Poland. National power was held to manifest itself not only in events but also in forms and styles. The introduction of this book focuses in detail on the development of Polish art history and the art historical- political debate. The main text and the over 300 illustrations attempt to do justice to both the national and the European argument. On the whole, Polish cultural nationalism tended to remain self-contained, even self-centred. This may help to explain why this book is the first-ever foreign work on Polish Art.

CONTENTS: Introduction: Art, Nation, Politics and the Art Historian: The Foundation of an Academic Polish Art History; German-Polish Disputes I: Beginnings; The Battle for Veit Stoss; II: The Art Historical Attack on Poland. Art Historical Reconstruction. Art History and the Communist State. The `National', the `Popular'; Problems of Evaluation. Notes to the Introduction. Some Criteria of Choice. The Early Periods. Gothic Architecture. Church Fittings in the Middle Ages. The Polish Renaissance. Sarmatism. Warsaw Town Palaces. The Last King as Patron. 1760-1900: Palladianism, Garden Architecture, Neo-Classicism, Neo-Gothic. Painting and Nationalism from the Late 18th to the Early 20th Centuries. The Art of the 20th Century: Architecture and Design; Sculpture; Further Representational Arts; Graphic Art; The Art of the Poster. General Bibliography. Index. Historical Maps. Pronounciation Helps.

THE AUTHOR: Stefan Muthesius (*Berlin 1939) teaches art history in the School of World Art Studies and Museology at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Publications include: Victorian Architecture (with Roger Dixon); Dasenglische Vorbild; The English Terraced House; Tower Block. Modern Public Housing in the UK (with Miles Glendinning).