In order to minimise the spread of the coronavirus all museums of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden remain closed until 20 April 2020.
Exercises in Freedom. Polish Conceptual Art 1968-1981
in cooperation with the Archiv der Avantgarden (AdA)
Polish art of the 1960s and 70s is marked by a variety and openness unique in socialist Eastern Europe. In contrast to most of its neighbors, in Poland art was allowed to unfold freely, with hardly any interference from the state. The exhibition presents the independent, internationally active, well-connected conceptual art scene, which to the present day has remained nearly unknown in Germany. 50 years after the epochal year, 1968, when social protests erupted in Poland as well, and 100 years after the founding of the Second Polish Republic, "Exercises in Freedom" traces the meaningful moments and protagonists from the end of the 1960s until 1981. That year, the military government imposed martial law in order to break the democratic movement initiated by the Solidarność union.
Unlike most of its neighbouring countries, the state hardly prevented art from developing freely. By engaging with its own modernist tradition, and in contact with Western trends, an independent, well-connected conceptual art scene grew which was on text
Unlike most of its neighbouring countries, the state hardly prevented art from developing freely. By engaging with its own modernist tradition, and in contact with Western trends, an independent, well-connected conceptual art scene grew which was on an international level - though it is still almost unknown in Germany to this day. The Kupferstich-Kabinett will be cooperating with the Archiv der Avantgarden to present the important stages and figures in this development, from its beginnings in the 1960s to the introduction of martial law in 1981.
All the artists in the exhibition shared the attitude that the innovative spirit of the artistic and social upheaval felt in both the West and East after 1960 should be used to fundamentally expand the concept of art. The spectrum of artistic positions presented here ranges from analyses of image and language to works of social and institutional criticism. Members of these groups were granted a relatively great degree of freedom by the state as long as they did not agitate against the communist system. They were thus able to form a largely independent network of galleries, art festivals, groups and international initiatives between Warsaw, Łódź, Poznań, Wrocław and other cities.
In the exhibition's second room, the Archiv der Avantgarden explores the idea of networking as an artistic practice. We can understand the works and activities of these artists as exercises in freedom."