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  • Magdalena Herman

The Exhibition That Never Happened... Ignacy Łopieński (1865–1941) and the Revival of Printmaking

On January 22 AG Polska was warmly greeted by Piotr Czyż who gave us a guided tour through The Exhibition That Never Happened... Ignacy Łopieński (1865–1941) and the Revival of Printmaking at the National Museum in Warsaw.

The title of this show alludes to the dramatic history of the National Museum in Warsaw. In the summer of 1939, an exhibition prepared for the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the work of Ignacy Łopieński was almost ready. The core of this monographic jubilee exhibition was a large set of prints, drawing studies, and matrices that the artist donated for the museum. However, due to the outbreak of World War II, the comprehensive overview of the oeuvre of this renowned Polish artist was never introduced to the wide audience. This winter curator of the current exhibition, Piotr Czyż, decided to revisit this idea and a figure of the unjustly forgotten artist. And the results are quite spectacular!

The exhibits include graphic works, printing matrices, paintings, and medals. The wide scope of means of artistic activity of Ignacy Łopieński lies in his upbringing and education. Ignacy was born in 1865 in the Warsaw family of bronze artists. Ignacy declared that he grew up in the house where "the whole artistic world of Warsaw gathered”. He learned drawing and sculpture in Warsaw, Vienna, and Paris. As a talented and already experienced young artist, he received a scholarship from the Warsaw Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts which enabled him to study in Munich. He learned graphic techniques in the class of Johann Leonhard Raab. Soon after he won many awards at international graphic exhibitions and gained recognition as an outstanding interpreter (and translator) of paintings by Polish masters into etching. Still, the original compositions constitute a substantial part of his oeuvre.

The exhibition not only presents the life and work of Ignacy Łopieński but also elaborates on the intricacies of graphic techniques that he specialized in. The audience has a rare opportunity to see printing plates, burins and drypoint needles alongside concise as well as clear explanations. The selection of art pieces is profoundly thought out. One of the highlights of this show is also the manner of juxtaposing works, for instance on one wall we may see the creative process of graphic production: painting which served as the source for the printed composition, copper plate, proof and final impressions.

The remarkable museum collection makes it possible, but the decision to arrange it all together is only one of the great choices made by Piotr Czyż. The overall picture of this remarkably well-prepared exhibition is complemented by a finely planned setting with grey walls livened with copper-colored accents.

Ignacy Łopieński was hailed by Polish art historians as the “rejuvenator of the Polish graphic arts” and “the apostle and reviver of printmaking.” Finally, he has been given an exhibition that he deserved for a long time.

The Exhibition That Never Happened... Ignacy Łopieński (1865–1941) and the Revival of Printmaking

5 December 2019 – 8 March 2020, National Museum in Warsaw

Curator: Piotr Czyż

See also: Ignacy Łopieński, academic ed. Piotr P. Czyż, transl. by Aleksandra Szkudłapska, graphic design by Jerzy Gruchot, Wojciech Koss / Full Metal Jacket, 304 pages, illustrated, The National Museum in Warsaw, Warsaw 2019.

Photos: Weronika Kobylińska-Bunsch

National Museum in Warsaw (


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