Kraków's cool art scene
At the turn of the 19th century, Kraków was at the epicenter of the Polish art nouveau wave, Mloda Polska (Young Poland), and churches and cafés continue to feature beautiful art nouveau. Contemporary artists are also keen to add character to the city. The city's Art Academy supplies a steady stream of new talents, the city's cool galleries and modern art museums host pioneering exhibitions and the street art phenomenon has mushroomed at record speed. Here is our guide to good art in Kraków.
Since 1997, the Starmach Gallery has been housed in a renovated former Jewish house of prayer in Podgórze and is owned by art historians Teresa and Andrzej Starmach. Originally founded in1989, the Starmach Gallery is renowned for exhibiting pioneering modern art by Polish and international names - from Tadeusz Kantor to Andy Warhol.
Ul. Wegierska 5
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow MOCAK
Opened in 2010, MOCAK is the coolest art museum in Kraków, exhibiting modern Polish and international art with both humor and heart. The streamlined building hosts works that are both relevant and fascinating, and a visit can be a very enriching experience, even you are not particularly a fan of modern art.
Ul. Lipowa 4
Galeria Plakatu (Poster Gallery)
Polish poster art is a genre in its own right that developed under communism. The censor permitted non-commercial film and theater posters and Polish poster designers had to interpret films and theater messages via pen and paper, collages and whatever else was available. A gloomy, eccentric, comical and beautiful poster universe was created and gained a global reputation for its uniqueness. The poster store at Galeria Plakatu has a huge selection of Polish poster art and it is hard not to buy several.
Galeria Plakatu, ul. Stolarska 8-10
The brutalist architecture of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art in Kraków's Planty Gardens is easy to spot amidst the medieval and renaissance buildings of the old town. Inside you will find playful, thought provoking and experimental works of modern art in all guises, not least installation art and video art from local and international artists. When you include an excellent book store and café in Planty Gardens, allow for several hours of delightful entertainment.
Pl. Szczepanski 3A
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi
One of the most prominent artists of the art nouveau wave was the multi talented Stanislaw Wyspianski, who was commissioned to decorate the entire interior of the church after a devastating fire. Over one hundred years later, Wyspianski's work still feels magical and modern, with plenty of color, magnificent stained glass windows, organic designs, flowers, angels, starry sky and graphic patterns from floor up to and including the ceiling.
Kosciol Franciszkanow, Pl. Wszystkich 5
Stanislaw Wyspianski (1869-1907) was an unusual man. He was a poet, artist, playwright and architect and has set his artistic stamp on Kraków like few others. He created fantastic decorative art at timeless tourist attractions such as St. Mary's Basilica, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the chapel in Wawel Castle. After a visit to the Wyspianski Museum, you will understand more about the scale of his genius and incredible productivity.
Muzeum Stanislawa Wyspianskiego w Kamienicy Szolayskich, ul. Szczepanska 11
The Second World War and 40 years of communism have left their mark on Poland. Kraków too has its share of sad, run down buildings that are crying out for a facelift. This has made the city a mecca for both Polish and international street artists and Kraków is predicted to become a future global hot spot for street art. Why not check it out for yourself on a free 3-hour guided tour of street art in a golf buggy, every Saturday from 11.00-14.00 starting from Galeria Krakowska shopping mall.
Book here: szlakmurali.mallwallart.com.
National Museum art collection
The National Museum's collection of Polish art from the 20th century is the largest collection of its kind and features everything from symbolism to installations, sculptures, photography and video art. The Museum sheds light on more contemporary Polish art and its interpretation of a century of war, holocaust, communism and peace.
Muzeum Narodowy Gmach Glowny, ul. 3. Maja 1.
Klub Pauza is a gallery, a movie theater, a club and a coffee bar. It exhibits modern photographic art by both new talents and established names, plus workshops and panel debates, shows art films and organizes events – and serves probably the best coffee in town. The Pauza bar also regularly features on lists of the World’s Best Bars.
Ul. Florianska 18/3
Text: Lise Hannibal
Published: December 21, 2016