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Polish art abroad

The work of our artists is very popular with foreign investors, collectors and ordinary art lovers. It is quite often that art abroad will sell for much more than in the country of origin, and this does not apply only to the most appreciated artist from the forefront.

Marcin Painta, the winner of the Grand Prix organized by the Art of the Empire contest MUZA 2014, after an art show in Sweden he came back without any of the presented works; each piece gained a new owner. In Poland, such situations, if any, are incidental. The gulf is enormous –  the financial result of one average art auction at Christie’s or Sotheby’s equates to the annual rotation of works on the art market in Poland. Why is that? Poland lacks cultural contact with art. For the most part, it is the legacy of post-war and communist times, when art was robbed and social poverty was plunging and simply pushed into the background. In addition, the cultural contact with art is associated with our upbringing from home and our education process, where unfortunately we still have many gaps. The traditions of building an ancestral art collection in Polish homes, except for a few exceptions, usually reaches only one generation back. However, in Western Europe, such collections are often created from many generations.

It is not just the West. In 1988, I visited Moscow. Back then, the art in Polish homes was represented by the ceramic plates hanging on the kitchen walls, tapestries in the hallways or shoddy reproductions in the living room. However, in Moscow, even in not so affluent homes, I have seen walls covered with real art and libraries full of wonderful publications – collections created and nurtured by generations.

Our art market still lacks specialists, best practices, openness and cooperation between cultural and financial institutions.  We show far too little support for cultural institutions and artists at the ministerial level, as in the private sector. It is true that from year to year there is a slight improvement; however, we are still far behind.

Polish art is undervalued, although those outside the country – fortunately for those artists who manage to break through – are selling really well. Unfortunately, in this way, we Poles lose our national heritage. Would you say that in Polish museums there are outstanding collections of contemporary art? With a few exceptions, unfortunately not. There are indeed brilliant, top names, but not necessarily their best works – those primarily move around the world.

Magdalena Woźniak
Photo: Marcin Painta, Oni i przepiórka, 160×120 (dyptyk), technika mieszana na płótnie, 2014, 2015 (1200×904)