The Young Poland movement emerged in the 1890s in response to Poland’s non-existence for almost a century. From the end of the 18th-century Poland underwent successive partitions dividing the country between Russia, Austria and Prussia, resulting in the country disappearing from the map of Europe for 123 years. In the words of historian Norman Davies, Poland became “just an idea – a memory from the past or a hope for the future”. With the failure of military uprisings, culture became a means to preserve an endangered national identity.
Young Poland: An Arts and Crafts Movement (1890 – 1918) is the first major exhibition to explore the decorative arts and architecture of Young Poland (Młoda Polska), an extraordinary cultural movement that flourished in response to Poland’s invasion and occupation by foreign powers.
Originating in Kraków and the nearby village of Zakopane at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, Young Poland sought inspiration in local folk traditions, wildlife and craftsmanship while collapsing the distinction between the fine and applied arts. Developing themes explored in a critically acclaimed book by its curators (Lund Humphries, 2020), the exhibition is the first in the world to position Young Poland as an Arts & Crafts movement, revealing strong stylistic and philosophical affinities with the work of William Morris and John Ruskin.
From furniture to Christmas decorations, intricate textiles to delicate paper cuttings, this landmark survey spans five galleries and brings together over 150 works, most of which have never travelled outside of Poland. Young Poland: An Arts and Crafts Movement (1890 – 1918) examines the ideas that propelled the movement and introduces the artists, designers and craftspeople whose decorative schemes and objects came to define it.
Young Poland: An Arts and Crafts Movement (1890 – 1918) is organised in partnership with the National Museum in Kraków and the Polish Cultural Institute, London.
Visit the exhibition at the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, London. Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm. Admission is free (suggested donation £5).