he Polish Scenography Centre documents the greatest
achievements in the field of theatre and film scenography. Since 1986 the Museum
has collected over 10 000 original scenography projects, drawings, puppets,
models, costumes and paintings. 121 artists have donated their works. Apart from
manual works by the outstanding Polish stage designers, we collect theatre
documentation in the form of programs, playbills, posters, prints,
correspondence, manuscripts, and many other items connected with preparation and
implementation of performances. The collection is supplemented by performance
stills, reviews and articles referring to exhibits presented as part of the
collection of the Polish Scenography Centre.
The largest group of works in our collection are projects of decorations, costumes, puppets and stage props. Collections of works by such artists as Otto Axer, Władysław Daszewski, Zofia Wierchowicz, Andrzej Kreutz Majewski or Lidia and Jerzy Skarżyński deserve a particular attention. The above works that come from the most famous productions are fundamental not only to the history of scenography itself, but also to the entire Polish theatrical scene. The younger generation of creators who set contemporary trends in the development of scenography, is represented by such artists as Zofia de Ines, Małgorzata Słoniowska, Barbara Hanicka or Jadwiga Mydlarska-Kowal. Among the collected exhibits one can also find here works by originators of the author's theatre – Tadeusz Kantor and Józef Szajna, as well as unique projects prepared by Jerzy Gurawski for the stage productions by Jerzy Grotowski, one of the most eminent reformers of universally accepted convention of illusionist theatre. The projects constituting part of the Polish Scenography Centre collection represent various ideas of stage space and reflect contemporary trends in art.
Apart from works by Adam Kilian, Andrzej Stopka or Zenobiusz Strzelecki that refer to the Polish folk customs, the collection includes surrealistic projects by Wiesław Lange and the abstractionist Piotr Potworowski.
Collections of the Polish Scenography Centre include works created after 1945. These projects reflect the process of development of the Polish scenography from the postwar period to the present times and represent the most significant achievements of the contemporary theatre.
A collection of projects kept in the Polish Scenography Centre is supplemented by costumes and headgears. The costume is one of the key elements of each performance and an important part of the stage space. Even an apparent lack of the costume, nudity, is a significant signal sent to the spectator. The costume is the first thing that allows one to get to know the main character on the stage, it decides about our first impression on the character. The way the actor creates a character on the stage depends on his/her form of expression by the costume. The costume suggests an interpretation of the character played by the actor, however sometimes the costumes are in opposition to the played part, becoming its peculiar adversary. The possibilities the costume gives to the stage designer, director and finally the actor are basically unlimited. The costumes collected by the Polish Scenography Centre reflect two various trends in scenography – a design based on the synthesis of the form and its stylization. The largest group of costumes are those created in accordance with the projects by Zofia Wierchowicz and Andrzej Kreutz Majewski. The costumes designed by Zofia Wierchowicz are fanciful, sculpturally created attires. The fabric they are made of, is additionally textured with dyes, applied in layers and supplemented by various appliqué designs. The costumes designed by Andrzej Kreutz Majewski are marked by expressiveness, application of language of symbols and reference to supracultural themes. One should also pay attention to the costumes by Adam Kilian, inspired by folk dresses and referring in their form and colour to glass painting or impressionistic works by Otto Axera. The fact that all costumes come from both dramatic performances and opera or ballet performances, enables one to catch a connection between their form and function on the stage.
The next group of exhibits gathered in the Polish Scenography Centre are dolls and puppets. A majority of them represent the works created on the basis of projects and artistic supervision of Jerzy Zitzman. He was an extremely versatile creator. As a theatre stage designer, he introduced surrealistic elements to puppet shows, using unusual combinations of forms and themes. He didn't limit himself to designing decorations or puppets only, but he used to direct his own works. Working with cartoons allowed him to continue transformation of the themes raised in the theatre and provided him with new opportunities in terms of the techniques. All this resulted in the creation of projects for the film Nić [Thread], which became the artistic and technical crowning achievement of his film production. An important place in the Museum's collection is occupied by puppets created by Józef Szajna for Ślady [Traces] - a performance placed into the original type of his narration, describing the modern world affected by holocaust and totalitarianism. One should also take notice of puppets from the performances by Janusz Wiśniewski, who was the originator of the author's theatre based on the visual art vision. In his extraordinary productions, the artist combines the avant-garde forms with the poetics of cheap popular theatre, cabaret or circus. The collection of dolls is supplemented by the works created by Ali Bunsch, considered to be the creator of the Polish type-puppets of simple and geometric shape, and by Mikołaj Malesza, whose works are characterized by caricatures and deformations. In the collection one will also find mannequins created by Krystian Lupa or puppets designed by Jadwiga Mydlarska – Kowal, which are put in deposit at the Centre. The collected projects of puppets or decorations for puppet shows enable one to compare the first concepts of the stage designer (existing only on paper) with the finished item, designed for use at the theatre stage.
A unique part of the collection held in the Polish Scenography
Centre are paintings by the leading Polish stage designers. All of these works
point out at the most significant feature of the Polish scenography, which is
its art origin. An abundance of art trends that emerged in the second half of
the 19th century caused quite a stir in the theatrical visual art of the time.
One can still perceive connection between the theatre and painting in the
works by contemporary stage designers. A collection of the Polish Scenography
Centre includes paintings by Zofia Wierchowicz, Otto Axer, Andrzej Kreutz
Majewski, Wiesław Lange and Józef Szajna. Although the mentioned works refer to
such diversified artistic trends, like impressionism, cubism, expressionism or
surrealism, they are connected with each other by the themes and forms that
appear both on the canvas and in the projects of individual creators.
The paintings, in confrontation with the scenographic works by the artists, discover the mechanisms influencing a visual setting of the performance. They reveal complexities of the technique of the stage designers who find fulfillment in painting as well as painters who are active in the theatre. The paintings by the foremost Polish stage designers present the response the leading art trends starting from the middle of the 19th century have met with in the 20th and the 21st century theatre. The mentioned paintings reveal the interactions between the visual arts and and the theatre.