Nov 17, 2023 - Mar 17, 2024
The exhibition will present different interpretations of this cultural myth: a utopia of order, blissful happiness, eternal youth, freedom, free eroticism. The topos of Arcadia, rooted in, among others, Virgil’s Eclogues, is the ideal Mediterranean landscape, which in modern times was transformed into a court garden, a place of escape from civilisation, a space of harmonious union between nature and human.

Arcadia is also a Peloponnesian land of shepherds and shepherdesses, nymphs, satyrs and fauns known from Greek mythology. However, gardens of aristocrats (e.g. Arkadia near Nieborów – the romantic landscape garden of Princess Helena Radziwiłł, née Przeździecka) and artists, manors, exotic lands and picturesque regions were also called Arcadia.

The exhibition will feature works of art from the early Renaissance to the present day: paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, as well as excellent examples of artistic craftsmanship (majolica, tapestries, costumes). They will be primarily objects from the collections of the NMW, enriched with paintings from French and German museums (e.g., Musée du Louvre; Musée d'Orsay; Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) and Polish collections (e.g., the Royal Łazienki Museum and the Wawel Royal Castle – National Art Collection).

Masters whose works will be on display are Nicolas Poussin, François Boucher, Claude Lorrain, Rembrandt, Antoine Watteau, Henryk Siemiradzki, Józef Mehoffer, Jacek Malczewski and Pablo Picasso. Besides, visitors will see the works of outstanding contemporary artists: Jarosław Kozakiewicz, a sculptor and architectural designer, and Mirosław Bałka, a world-renowned sculptor and video artist. We introduce the works of the youngest generation of artists as well as artistic and social collectives who take actions for Nature in order to restore the lost ecological balance.

We therefore offer an interpretation of the classical myth of Arcadia in the context of the latest art, which fosters the awareness of the hazards connected with civilisation, the reflection on the state of the Earth, the degradation of nature due to technological progress and disturbed balance between economy and ecology, people and nature. The climate crisis and the exploitation of the planet’s natural resources make us confront the ancient dream of an ideal place with the contemporary state of the environment.

curators: Dr hab. Agnieszka Rosales Rodríguez (National Museum in Warsaw) and Prof. Antoni Ziemba (University of Warsaw)
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