Grazyna Halasa
Curator of Prints
Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu (National Museum in Poznan)
Al. Marcinkowskiego 9, 61-745 Poznan, Poland
Phone: +48-61-856-8063
Fax: +48-61-851-5898

Paper: “Poznan Society of Artists Bunt and the Zdrój Biweekly in the Orbit of German Expressionism”

Note:  "Beyond the Group, Beyond the Manifesto” curated by Agnieszka Salamon and Michal Haake feturing Polish prints from 1918 – 1939 will be presented at the Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu during the conference.

This paper will present interesting aspects of a Polish phenomenon within German Expressionism, a phenomenon little known, especially abroad. The phenomenon in question is the Bunt group, active in 1918 and 1919 in Poznan and the Zdrój periodical issued here in the period 1917-1922. The latter, as the only genuine organ of Expressionism on Polish soil, was likewise a mouthpiece of the theory and art of the Bunt group. Both of them give shape to a significant and vital period not only in the history of Poznan, but of interest also from the point of view of German Expressionism. This is due to the short yet intensive cooperation of Bunt and Zdrój with one of the major German Expressionist periodicals, the Berlin-based Die Aktion.

As one of the major Polish cities, Poznan was at that period within the borders of the German Empire, which significantly contributed to its character: a provincial Polish-German city marked by strong national conflicts. The Bunt group and the Zdrój periodical endeavoured to disregard – to some extend -  these mental borders and undermine the existing order.

The very name “Bunt” introduces us into the Polish-German climate. The term, similarly to the word KONTAKT, was chosen on purpose as it functions in both languages and implies distinguishing characteristics of Expressionism: in Polish it denotes a protest or revolt, whereas in German it refers to Expressionist distinct and garish colour contrasts.  It seems, then, that the subject of Bunt and Zdrój has not lost its currency, especially now, within the context of the International Conference of Graphic Art IMPACT KONTAKT Poznan – Berlin 2005.

For the purpose of the conference, an aspect to be discussed is the graphic oeuvre of the group, the major area of its artistic activity. The manner in which the artists tried to undermine the existing order and how this was reflected in their prints is one of the focuses of the paper. The most important task, however, will be to find a key to defining the Bunt phenomenon through graphic art. In order to achieve this aim it will be necessary to answer questions related not only to the manner of form adoption, but also to the experience and interpretation of the major issues addressed by German Expressionism, such as its attitude to man and his sexuality or its stand towards war, independence, religion and social problems. Of assistance here will be an iconographic method extended with analysis of form and content of selected works or groups of works and their reference to the historical and artistic context.

While this is not an especially extensive oeuvre of a rather provincial character, analysis of the form and content of these works may prove truly inspirational and provide an opportunity for expanding our knowledge on Expressionism through understanding what happened on its outskirts.

GRAZYNA HALASA is a Curator in the Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu (National Museum in Poznan) where she has been Head of the Print Cabinet since 1996. She studied the history of art at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, receiving her diploma in 1986. Since the early 1990’s her research has focused on graphic art. Her primary interests are the graphic oeuvre of Rembrandt and German Modernists from the circle of the Berliner Sezession and Expressionism as well as their impact on graphic art in Poland. Author and co-author of texts on and exhibitions of prints and drawings including Max Klinger (Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu,1993); Calcografia Nacional Madrid 1996), Paula Modersohn-Becker (2001), Paul Klee (2001), and the Poznan-based Expressionist Bunt Group (2003/04). In 2004 Halasa received an honourable mention for the exhibition of Bunt at the national Sybilla competition. Active in the local art movement, she is also a member of the Poznan Association for the Promotion of Art (PSPS).