La modernité "orientale"
Les arts décoratifs polonais face aux arts de l’Islam au début du XXe siècle
Oriental influences present in Polish culture since the Middle Ages and incarnated by the idea of “sarmatisme” were re-evaluated or outright rejected by the young modernist generation. In fact, at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century the traditional Polish “Orientality” was replaced by a wave of interest for the aesthetics of Islamic art, a reflection of the European “Oriental renaissance”. The Polish imaginarium had long associated the art and culture of Islam uniquely to the Middle East and its craft. The romantic epoch brought with it a new interest for medieval Spain, Granada in particular, its history and monuments, reflected in the poetry of Adam Mickiewicz and the museographic realisations of Izabela Czartoryska at Puławy or Tytus Działyński at Kórnik. If architectural projects, principally of “Moorish” synagogues and internal decorations for aristocratic and bourgeois palaces still belong to a nineteenth century oriental current, they do however already reveal a will typical of pre-war decades by virtue of granting significance to Islamic decorative principles. In the first decades of the twentieth century, “à l’orientale” motifs recurrent in fashion and the visual universe, as witnessed by contemporary novels, found a sort of counterpoint in propositions made by representatives of the Polish applied art revival movement, successful hybridization of European, oriental and popular models: fabrics, carpets, metal and leather objects of artists from the Warsztaty Krakowskie (Cracow workshops, founded 1913) such as Józef Czajkowski, Wojciech Jastrzębowski, Bonawentura Lenart, and Karol Tichy, “javano-cracovian” batiks of young workshop apprentices or even the glazed ceramics of Stanisław Jagmin. Displayed at the 1925 Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris, the Cracow Workshop adherent’s productions draw the attention of the European public and critics on this peculiar breed of national “primitivist” style tainted with Orientalism.
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