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Painting “Memento Mori”

The painting was purchased for the museum in 1945. It was created in the second half of the 18th century in one of the guilds in Stary Sącz. It is a very interesting and symbolic work of art which refers to the theme of death and transience so popular in Baroque art. The painting is divided into three parts: two of them are in the shape of a standing rectangle in the upper part and one is of an oblong shape in the lower part.

Sculpture “Crucified Christ” from 14th century

The sculpture depicts the Crucified Christ. The Saviour has dark hair falling on his shoulders, a short beard and moustache. The figure’s hands were completely destroyed.

“Trolley” — prototype (“Let the Artists Die”, 1985)

Wózeczek stał się w spektaklu symbolem wspomnienia dzieciństwa. Czytamy w Przewodniku po spektaklu: „Idziemy ku przodowi w przyszłość, / równocześnie zagłębiając się w rejony / PRZESZŁOŚCI, czyli ŚMIERCI. (...) / Siedzę na scenie, / JA — rzeczywisty, lat 70... / nigdy już nie stanę się na nowo / chłopcem, gdy miałem 6 lat... / wiem o tym, ale pragnienie jest / nieprzeparte, / nieustanne, / napełnia całe moje istnienie... / W drzwiach zjawia się / MAŁY ŻOŁNIERZYK — dziecko / JA — GDY MIAŁEM 6 LAT, / na dziecinnym wózeczku / (na moim wózeczku!)”.

“Bike”/“Manikin of a child on a bike” (“The Dead Class,” 1975)

Bike is an exhibit from Tadeusz Kantor’s performance Umarła klasa [The Dead Class].The premiere took place in the Krzysztofory Gallery in Kraków in November 1975. In the play was a prop of an “old man with a bicycle” going round and round, saying goodbye and leaving in step to the François waltz. The old man was played by Andrzej Wełmiński.

The Albino magpie

This bird has a very characteristic black and white plumage, black beak and legs. Its dark feathers have a metallic sheen, green-navy one on wings, as well as scarlet on the head and back, distinguishing it from the corvids. The presented specimen is unique, because of a very rare gene mutation that caused a lack of pigmentation in this individual and, as a result, its white plumage in places where magpies normally have black or light-brown feathers.

Poison cabinet

Pomalowana na czarno szafka służyła do przechowywania w aptece leków o silnym działaniu. Zwykle na takiej szafie umieszczano napis Venena (łac. veneum — trucizna) oraz malowano symbole czaszki i skrzyżowanych piszczeli. Na drzwiach prezentowanej szafki zostały wymalowane białą farbą...

Sculpture of man and woman

The sculpture comes from the excavations conducted by Hermann Junker in 1913 in the eastern sector of the Great Western Necropolis, west of the Pyramid of Cheops. The sculpture depicts the figures according to a specific canon: the man in a walking posture and the woman standing with feet held together.

Court rostrum from St. Michael’s prison in Kraków

The “Pomorska Street” branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków deals with the post-war history of Poland until 1956. This was a time of struggle between communist forces and former soldiers of the Home Army, civilian employees of the Polish Underground State, and the WiN Association.

Small cross — a badge commemorating the battle of Krzwopłoty

Badge in the shape of Latin cross. On the obverse is shown eagle in crown and inscription above: HONOR OF HEROS WHO DIED FOR POLAND.

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.

“Crucified Christ” from St. Jadwiga’s hospital

The sculpture depicts Christ hanged on a cross with his hands outstretched. His head is leaning a little towards his right shoulder. The plasticity of the face strikes us with the calmness with which the Redeemer accepts suffering. He is looking down and his lips are closed.

Sculpture “Over a grave” by Antoni Pleszowski

This woman with a melancholic look on her face and her hair coveredh, gives the impression of being deeply immersed in her thoughts, which may reflect the passing and loss of a loved one. The manner of presenting the sitting, freely-posed figure derives from the works of Michelangelo, as well as later Roman sepulchral sculpture of the Baroque period, with which the author of the work — an artist educated in Kraków, Vienna and Rome — was very familiar.

Wilhelm Sasnal, untitled

The picture of Wilhelm Sasnal presents a view of the burning Concorde aircraft. The artist recreated the frame from an amateur film made from a car window, which was the only video recording of the disaster at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris in 2000. Presented for the first time at the exhibition, Scene 2000, at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, the picture is part of a series of canvases by this artist connected with the subject of disasters and accidents. Despite the fact that Sasnal created a few pictures concerning the subject of the Concorde catastrophe (shown in the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery at the exhibition POPelita), each of them should be perceived as a separate work, and not a specific work cycle. Sasnal’s deep fascination with recordings showing the course of the catastrophe may indicate the artist’s desire to reach the “truth”, to spot what was hidden under the layer of words, descriptions, and interpretations. This pursuit is driven by the awareness of the impossibility of achieving the goal.

Wilhelm Sasnal, untitled

Wilhelm Sasnal’s painting depicts, in a one-to-one scale, a 43-cm metal object, which comes from the hull of the continental aircraft which caused the crash of the Air France Concorde in 2000. Presented for the first time at the exhibition, Scene 2000, at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, the picture is part of a series of canvases of the artist, connected with the subject of disasters and accidents. A few of them refer directly to the events related to the Concorde: apart from the two paintings belonging to the collection of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery, the canvas is also divided into nine sections presenting the individual stages of the plane’s explosion.

The tombstone of king Jan I Olbracht

The tomb of Jan I Olbracht is a milestone piece not only for Kraków artistic circles but for the entire country. It was sculpted in the years 1502–1505 and consists of two parts executed by two different artists of different backgrounds, education and experience. From the local tradition of commemorating dead rulers derives the tomb sculpted in red stone from the Esztergom quarry, placed in a very deep niche carved into the western wall of a chapel. The tomb is decorated on the front side only (the sides are not exposed), while figural representations were replaced by a rectangular inscribed plaque. This simple and sophisticated solution clearly refers to the art of ancient Rome, in which inscription plaques were the basic element of commemoration of the deceased (Lat. tabulae ansatae). The long inscription was carved in the humanist capitals that had been created based on ancient Roman letterforms and is one of the first instances where such a font was used in Poland.

“Young couple” (“I Shall Never Return”, 1988)

Young Couple is an object of spectacle Cricot 2 Qui non ci torno più (I Shall Never return), which was created in Kraków and Milan in 1987–1988. The premiere took place on 23 June 1988 at the Piccolo Teatro Studio in Milan. The play I Shall Never return is a summary of previous work of Tadeusz Kantor's theater.

Painting “Son and His Killed Mother” by Andrzej Wróblewski

The painting shows a small boy embracing a woman who is presented from her shoulders down, without her head. The woman is dead, although it seems that she is returning the caress with a numb gesture of her hand. The artist painted her in a bluish azure and dressed her in a blue dress. He painted all war victims and dead people in this way — using the symbolism of blue: the sphere of shade, immateriality, and transcendence. The form generalised and knowingly made primitive as well as nearly evenly laid colour are for the condensation of essence and expression.

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.

The European bee-eater

The former name of this bird (Merops apiaster Linnaeus, 1758)—the bee-eater—says a lot about its biology. The bee-eater (Merops apiaster is its full name according to the binominal nomenclature of species) is a bird from the bee-eater family (most species from this family occur in Africa and Asia). It feeds on insects, including bees and wasps caught in flight. bee-eaters establish nests in loess escarpments by drilling special tunnels in them (usually in high escarpments and banks).

Two apothecary vessels

Vessels in the form of a monstrance for storing medicinal oils come from the convent pharmacy of Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God in Cieszyn. The pharmacy began its functioning in the 1690s. At the time, the monastery in Cieszyn was founded, together with a hospital and a pharmacy run by monks. The vessels are decorated with white Rococo cartouches with gold borders. Inside the cartouches there are apothecary inscriptions in two-coloured majuscule: Ol. Cinnamomi — cinnamon oil — on one of the jars, and Ol. Macis — nutmeg oil — on the other.