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Alicja (Alice) Halicka, Cubist Still Life (Still Life of Tulips in Vase, Bottle, Books, and Pipe), 1915, Oil on canvas, 25 x 26.5 in. From the Collection of Tom Podl.

Thursday, May 25, 2006 - Sunday, September 17, 2006
Opening Reception: Thu., May 25, 5-7 PM: with introductory lecture at 6 pm by historian Jan Cavanaugh

Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago
5550 S. Greenwood Ave, Chicago, IL
Admission: free, Tel: 773.702.0200
Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri 10-4; Thurs 10-8; Sat,Sun 11-5

By 1890, a century of occupation and several failed uprisings had impacted Polish culture profoundly and engendered a broad search for a national identity in the arts. Driven by the Mloda Polska (Young Poland) movement, Polish art, literature, architecture, and music flourished even as the country remained partitioned under the foreign rule of Russia, Germany, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In subsequent decades, Polish artists working at home and abroad engaged in a lively international exchange that resulted in a Polish modern art movement that was remarkably diverse.

Featuring over 60 paintings, sculptures, and drawings - all drawn from the private collection of Tom Podl, an American of immigrant Polish descent living in Washington state - the exhibition reflects the remarkable diversity of Polish modern art created between 1890 and 1939. It also demonstrates how the visual arts served as a focused response to the period's divisive geopolitics and, in the two decades after independence was achieved in 1918, contributed to the cultural identity of a sovereign Poland.

The quality and comprehensiveness of the material was recognized in 2001, when the the Tom Podl collection in its entirety was exhibited at the National Museum in Kraków before embarking on a seven-city tour in Poland. The full collection is represented in the catalogue Colors of Identity: Polish Art from the American Collection of Tom Podl, produced by the National Museum in Kraków (2001), which will be available in conjunction with the exhibition at the Smart Museum.

The Colors of Identity: Polish Art at Home and Abroad, 1890-1939 is curated by Warsaw-based art historian Artur Tanikowski and Anna Król, Curator at the National Museum in Krakow, in consultation with Richard A. Born, Senior Curator at the Smart Museum.

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