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Reliquary with St. Stanislaus’s hand

A reliquary in the form of a hand (forearm) placed on a polygonal base in a vertical position. The middle part of the reliquary is red (the sleeve of a robe) with visible relics put in a small rectangular panel obscured by a glass pane.

Karol Szymanowski's posthumous mask

Few mementoes and works of art directly associated with Karol Szymanowski have been preserved to this day. Therefore, the posthumous mask makes for quite a unique document. Suffering from tuberculosis, Szymanowski died in Le Signal hospital in Lausanne. The mask was made right after his death by a Swiss sculptor, Lucien Jules Delerse.

Tibetan medicine set

A part of the Ethnographic Museum's collection, the so-called Tibetan medicine set is one of a few complete 19th/20th-century descriptions of Tibetan medicine in the world, including a set of medicines and a description of their application. It consists of two medical manuscripts and almost 300 medicines, or actually products to prepare them such as seeds, plants, fruit and minerals, mostly labelled in the Tibetan language.

Wooden snuffbox

A container in the shape of a human hand clenched into a fist, intended for storing snuff. It is made of oak, with a rectangular hollowed-out interior, covered with a thin lid. The plate of the lid is mounted on the wrist part with a leather hinge. It is finished with a ledge, which was used to raise the lid with a fingernail. The snuffbox is finished with dark brown French polish.

“Peter’s Head” from the cycle “Herbarium” by Alina Szapocznikow

Body casts appeared in works by Alina Szapocznikow in 1965, when she began to present her own fingers and mouth in sculptural material. In 1971, she made of polyester the crushed Autoportret–Zielnik [Self-Portrait Herbarium], regarded as an introduction to Zielnik [Herbarium] — one of her most important works made on the basis of body casts.

Group AES+F, “Défilé #1”

The AES+F group shows dead bodies dressed in ballroom finery. The dramatic content is emphasised by using f life-size photographs, made all the more realistic by being displayed in lightboxes. The human fear of passing away is hidden behind obsessive adornment of the body. Death is presented in its “luxury” version which, despite all efforts, only serves to emphasize the deadness of the corpse. The series Défilé consists of 7 photographs in lightboxes. Film with the photographic prints has been glued to Plexi and placed in aluminium boxes, lit from behind.

Muntean/Rosenblum, untitled [“They realized that their capacity…”]

[They realized that their capacity for not feeling lonely carried very real price, which was the threat of feeling nothing at all.] Four young people appear to be taking drugs in a forest. This suspicion is at odds with the ambiance of the attractive forest and sunlight filtered through the trees. An integral part of the painting is a poetic declaration which implies a risky experiment. It entails a statement of the absence of loneliness. However, the painted protagonists appear to be entirely lonely; they do not even notice their own presence. If so, they only have themselves to thank for their lack of loneliness.

Apothecary jar for the dissected human skull

Słój apteczny jest wykonany ze szkła mlecznego, z dekoracją w stylu rokoko (II poł. XVIII w.). Szyldzik okala złoty pierścień ozdobiony czerwonobrunatnym, spiętym w środku wianuszkiem. W środku napis wykonany dwubarwną majuskułą: „CRAN: HUMN: PPT”, czyli „czaszka ludzka...

Vessel with an artistic representation of symplegma

A man and a woman in an erotic scene are shown on the chest which imitates a bed. Both figures are naked, with their long hair reaching down to their shoulders with strongly marked eyes, noses and half-open mouths. The stirrup-shaped ear connects the back of the man with the side-surface of the bed, which is covered with a geometric ornament.

“The Canon of Medicine” of Avicenna

The work of a Persian doctor, philosopher, scholar, known in Europe as Avicenna (Abu Ali Ibn Sina, 980–1037). The Canon of Medicine was written at the beginning of the 11th century, but served as a manual of medical knowledge in the West even up to the 17th century, while in the East it is sometimes used up to this day.

El-Kantara male torso

The alabaster sculpture, 15 cm high, was purchased by soldiers of the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade during WW II. The statue represents a young naked man with a sealed head, legs and arms. At the back there is a flat column, which is triangularly finished at the top.

Sarah Lucas, “Sucky Thing 2011”

The work is one of a series of sculptures made from tights filled with down. The material used and the soft shapes achieved connote the female. Simultaneously, however the biological shape placed on a lavatory, reminiscent of faeces, triggers revulsion.

Zofia Kulik, “All the Missiles Are One Missile”

Photomontage using combination print. The composition is made through repeated imprinting of one or more negatives on an appropriately masked paper. Zofia Kulik’s collages are complex visual texts. Each carries a message that has been carefully devised and executed.

Katarzyna Górna, “Fuck me, Fuck you, Peace”

A photographic triptych, showing women in different stages of their lives – from youth, through maturity to old age. The adopted poses as well as the compositions with a static, altar-like quality point to the inspiration by Christian iconography, recurrent in the artist’s work. The work deals with the relationship between age and the attitude to life. A young woman wants to be loved, a mature woman is fed up with everything and the old woman craves peace.

Strupek Group, “Rocket”

The starting point for the performance Rocket, was the text of a futuristic poem by Anatol Stern, Europe, published in 1929. It was processed by the members of the Strupek Group, using a modern internet tool — Google translate — to obtain an absurd, mechanized form of language. However, what survived is the essence of the original poem and its embedded story of the brutality of the 20th century history, the traps of totalitarianism, and the triumph of violence, whose horror was highlighted by ghostly sounds extracted from a theremin (an electroacoustic musical instrument constructed in the 1920s by a Soviet physicist Lev Termen). The oppressiveness of the situation increased the audience’s involvement in the space of the show itself and confronted them with characters shouting out consecutive lines: Priest, Altar Boy, Mother, Rocket, and the Sacrificial Lamb, conducting the action. The play, which was recreated three times, was an adequate conclusion of the public activity of the Strupek Group — from then on, the fates of its members were to go down their individual paths.

Krištof Kintera, “All My Bad Thoughts”

Visualization of the Spiritual State. It is difficult to convey depression because of the lack of words, and the available expressions are banal to the point of ennui. A painting turns out to be a more capacious and sensitive medium than words or poetry. The “black secretion of the soul” is poured over a reclining figure.

Bartek Materka, untitled [“Skeletons”]

Reconstruction of an open grave. By the manner of painting, the artist has emphasised the emotive quality of the represention of a post mortem.

Karol Radziszewski, “Study for the Wounded Insurgent”

Karol Radziszewski’s work consists of six photographs and a drawing made on their basis. The cycle is considered a preparatory study for the mural, which was to be created in 2009 at the Mur Sztuki Gallery, located in the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. However, the work did not come to fruition, because it was considered too erotic and detrimental to the feelings of the museum’s public.

Group AES+F, “Défilé #5”

The AES+F group shows dead bodies dressed in ballroom finery. The dramatic content is emphasised by using f life-size photographs, made all the more realistic by being displayed in lightboxes. The human fear of passing away is hidden behind obsessive adornment of the body. Death is presented in its “luxury” version which, despite all efforts, only serves to emphasize the deadness of the corpse. The series Défilé consists of 7 photographs in lightboxes. Film with the photographic prints has been glued to Plexi and placed in aluminium boxes, lit from behind.

Snuffbox in the shape of a heart

The heart-shaped snuffbox has been made from bovine bone. The lid of the snuffbox is mounted on metal hinges. Around the body and on the lid, rivets and traces of folding/securing the bone plates to the body of the container are visible.