Neoplastic Room. Open Composition

The history of the Neoplastic Room dates back to 1946. The Muzeum Sztuki, previously housed in a dozen or so rooms of the former town hall, was granted a new seat – the nineteenth-century palace of the Łódź industrialist – Maurycy Poznański. The then director of the Muzeum, Marian Minich, invited Władysław Strzemiński to take part in works connected with the arrangement of the new exhibition halls. The artist was entrusted with the task of designing a space in which a collection of the European avant-garde, which he had been collecting following his own initiative in the 1930’s, would find its place. The Neoplastic Room – since it was called this way – was opened to the public two years later together with the entire Muzeum, and immediately became an unusual museum attraction. Unfortunately, not for a long time: in 1950 the polychromes referring to the neoplasticism were painted over, and the works exhibited on the walls, which did not correspond to the official style of socialist realism, were taken down and put into the storage rooms. The hall was reconstructed to its original character only in 1960 (by Strzemiński’s student, Bolesław Utkin). From that moment on, for almost half a century it was the central point of the permanent exhibition of the Łódź Muzeum, becoming immediately one of only a few examples of an exhibition room designed following the assumptions of the avant-garde tradition.

The context of the Neoplastic Room changed in 2008, when the collections of modern and contemporary art were moved to ms2, a nineteenth century weaving mill turned into an exhibition space of the Muzeum Sztuki. The room, after long discussions concerning possible moving it to the 20th and 21st Century Art Collection, remained in the building for which Strzemiński had originally designed it. Thus, it ceased to be the centre of the Muzeum collection. In return, it became a catalyst and a reference point for the activities of other artists. Through such a formula of having a dialogue with the work of the leading animator of the Polish avant-garde, artists have been able to creatively develop and modernize his legacy, as well as direct our attention to those meanings of his work that were previously unnoticed.

The Open Composition project premiered in 2010. Since then, the Neoplastic Room which used to be the centre of the collection of Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, has become a catalyst and a reference point for activities of contemporary artists. At the current stage of the exhibition, the works of the „a.r.” group have returned to the Neoplastic Room with which they are historically associated. Additionally, the dialogue is held between the Room or, more broadly, between the art of Strzemiński and Kobro, and the works of Daniel Buren, Liam Gillick, Monika Sosnowska and Céline Condorelli. Albeit not inspired by the Room, other artists’ sculptures and installations exhibited as part of the project focus on themes that are encapsulated in the Room and relate to corporality and modernist ideologies involved in actively shaping the living space. These aspects of the presence of the human body in an ideologized space are revealed and brought forward in the works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Henryk Morel, Kitty Kraus, Oskar Dawicki, Roman Stańczak and Koji Kamoji.  All of them create a catalogue of relations that take place between topography, human body and the experience of presence, absence, filling, and displacement.

The exhibition also heralds a retrospective presentation of RH Quaytman.


Jarosław Suchan in cooperation with Daniel Muzyczuk, Aleksandra Jach and Maria Morzuch

NEOPLASTIC ROOM (film z napisami po angielsku)