Widzieć i rozumieć malarstwo - o poglądach Mieczysława Porębskiego
To see and to understand painting - on Mieczysław Porębski's ideas
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This article argues that the academic works of Professor Mieczysław Porebski and therefore his views on art and artistic choices constitute a closed set, the framework of which was outlined at the beginning of his work as a critic and art historian. Texts written in his youth were reprinted many years later, the scholar constantly returned to research problems undertaken earlier, and he wrote about artists whom ideologically he had been associated with as early as during the war and immediately after. As he got older new problems and new artists appeared, but they always fi tted into an order established at the beginning of his career. As a scholar, Mieczysław Porebski had indeed a predilection for organizing – for setting boundaries (The Boundary of the Contemporary), defining the rhythms of history (Interregnum), and referring to scientifi c theories (Art and Information). Another characteristic feature of Porebski’s achievements was his very personal approach to the subject of research and to criticism of works of art. He repeatedly stressed that he only studied paintings that he had direct access to and therefore the possibility of contemplation and refl ection. This produced visible and outstanding results during his work at the National Museum in Kraków. Porebski was not so much an excellent curator – in the sense that we now think of this function – but rather the author of carefully planned content-based programmes; he also had an impact on the way exhibitions were displayed. Some went down in the history of Polish twentieth century art, in particular the exhibition Seeing and Understanding (1975). The third element that dominates Professor Porebski’s scholarly and critical legacy was his attitude to Polishness and his thesis on the indelible, Sarmatian quality of our culture and an undeniable weak spot for the work of Jan Matejko. All this meant that the scholar’s attitude towards painting, both that of the old masters and modern, was constant.
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