This exhibition at the Zachęta reminisces about one of the most important and colourful figures of the Polish artistic scene after The Second World War – the painter, sculptor, designer, scenographer (creator of both theatre sets and exhibition arrangements), co-organizer of such events as the Plein-airs in Osieki (since 1963) and the Biennale of Spatial Forms in Elblag (1965), Marian Bogusz. His enormous influence on Polish artistic life primarily drew upon his ability to activate and combine various groups by means of establishing clubs, galleries (Young Artists and Scientists’ Club, the Krzywe Koło Gallery), initiating exhibitions, and from the 1960s, numerous nationwide artistic events, such as the plein-airs and various symposia.

The joy of new constructions. Marian Bogusz’s (post)war utopias presents but a small selection of the artist’s paintings, focusing mainly on his activity outside painting. The narrative begins with the reconstructed design of the International Artistic Housing Estate made by Bogusz in the Mauthausen camp. In the modernist architectural visions of the monument-cum-housing estate, which was to be erected on the ruins of the Nazi camp, he outlined a model of modernity in which he referenced all of his artistic activity. This model, rooted in the pre-war avant-garde and consistent with the idea of collective art devoid of any element of competition, assumed the coexistence of various fields of art: literature, painting, sculpture and music, and also integrated art with science and technology.

An important element of Bogusz’s approach was his utopian belief in the real influence of art and its contribution to social change, through the aesthetic shaping of the human environment. The change in the organization of space was supposed, in the artist’s mind, to influence human relationships and consequently bring about a change of social relations. A similar way of thinking was the driving force behind various activities initiated by the artist, for example, those in the so-called Recovered Territories. The symposia (such as in Łosiów in 1972, Krapkowice in 1974, Opole in 1974/75) were linked by the idea of reorganizing the space of cities, small towns, and even villages within the framework of interdisciplinary projects that lay at the crossroads of painting, sculpture, architecture and urban planning.

The desire to influence social life that is prevalent in all of Bogusz’s initiatives was connected with the ideas of democratization of access to contemporary art and aesthetic education, that were so important to him.