Lublin exhibition celebrates intense life of Andrzej Wróblewski, Poland’s most expensive artist
An outsider, individualist and Poland's most expensive painter, Andrzej Wróblewski is the subject of a newly opened exhibition at the National Museum in Lublin.
Dying tragically at just 30 years of age, he is regarded as one of Poland’s most important artists of the 20th century, with his work reflecting the times in which he lived – the atrocities of the war and the political changes in Poland.
Wróblewski was born in 1927 in Vilnius and died in 1957 in the Tatra Mountains. Graduating in art history from Jagiellonian University
and the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, he made his debut as an artist in 1948.
Although his work spanned only a decade, his impact resonates to this day.
Regarded now by many as the best of Poland’s post-war artists, he is also the most expensive. His painting Two Married Women was sold in 2021 for a record price of just over PLN 13 million, making it the priciest artwork ever sold on the Polish market.
“[He] was a great painter, certainly one of the most outstanding and talented in Poland,” says Marcin Lachowski, art historian and curator
of the exhibition.
The exhibition ‘Wróblewski and After: The Art of Direct Realism’ at Lublin Castle includes 100 works by the artist, as well as 50 works by
artists who were inspired by Wroblewski directly or symbolically.
The paintings, which come from more than a dozen museums, private collections and anonymous individuals, allow visitors to trace exactly how Wróblewski’s art changed and developed over the intensive ten years of his short-lived career.
Lachowski explained: “We want to show Wróblewski as an artist who was never really in the mainstream during his lifetime. However, after his death, Wróblewski's work was presented in major exhibitions and revived the imagination of subsequent artistic generations."
Visitors to Lublin Castle will have a chance to ponder for themselves Wróblewski's artistic vision rooted in the challenging concept of
A motif that runs through Wróblewski's painting is death. A standout work at the exhibition is Son and Dead Mother, which was borrowed from the National Museum in Kraków.
The painting shows a young boy embracing a woman, framed without her head. The woman, a victim of the war, is dead, though she seems to embrace the boy back.
Also on display is the shocking Execution of Hostages from a series of eight paintings centred on the theme of wartime executions of Poles carried out by the Germans.
One of the standout works is Headless Fish from 1948, which parallels dismembered human bodies from wartime atrocities.
Wróblewski developed a distinctive style of figurative painting that served as an inspiration for many succeeding generations of painters.
As such, the exhibition includes 50 works by artists who were influenced by him.
These include a painting by Wilhelm Sasnal featuring the infamous Gate of Death at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Wróbleski’s career was cut short tragically in 1957 when his body was found by the road leading to Morskie Oko in the Tatra Mountains near Zakopane.
According to the police at the time, the painter fainted while walking and hit his head on a tree. It was thought to have been triggered by an attack of epilepsy.
The exhibition ‘Wróblewski and After: The Art of Direct Realism’ will be
open to the public until August 27 at the National Museum in Lublin.