Poland's biggest collector and promoter of contemporary art has joined Modern Women's Fund Committee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is the first member coming from Central and Eastern Europe.
Grażyna Kulczyk, an art patron and a long-time propagator of contemporary Polish art, was invited to join one of MoMA's programme boards – the Modern Women’s Fund Committee, bringing together leading experts and philanthropists from all over the world. The Committee has a lot of influence over the programme and exhibition policy, as well as acquisition plans. Grażyna Kulczyk is its first member coming from Cenral and Eastern Europe, and only the second one from Europe – next to Oya Eczacıbaşı, Istanbul Modern Art Museum's chair of the board.
The driving force behind my work towards expanding my collection and supporting international projects has always been the urge to promote prominent artists from Poland in other countries. If my voice in boards of various international institutions may bring works by Polish artists into their collections, then I think it's worth it. We have art we can be proud of. - says Grażyna Kulczyk, who is a representative of Poland on the London's Tate programme board, and who, in 2015 started working on the Museum of Polish Art in Switzerland.
The cooperation with MoMA was symbolically marked by Kulczyk's donation of one of the major works by Edward Krasiński – No. 124. Krasiński was one of the leaders of avant-garde in Poland, belonging to the art circles surrounding the Krzywe Koło and Foksal Galleries. He is widely recognized for his hallmark blue scotch tape, which, ever since 1970, he was sticking on his works at the height of 1.30 m from the ground. As part of its recent mission to enhance its collection with works from Poland, MoMA has for a while been aiming at acquiring works by this artist and gathering all of the nine panels forming the Intervention – Blue Line series from 1972. The piece donated by Grażyna Kulczyk, which in June 2015 officially became part of MoMA's collection, was the last one from the set.
Modern Women’s Fund Committee currently consists of fourteen members – including the icons of American philanthropy, such as Marie-Josée Kravis (one of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York advisors and board member for Publicis S.A. and LVMH, considered one of top 25 philanthropists in US history – her and her husband were the main contributors to the Lincoln Center of Performing Arts in New York) or Agnes Gund (American philanthropist and advocate for cultural education – she is an advisor to President Barack Obama and board member for such institutions as the J. Paul Getty Trust and Frick Collection). The Committee members are obliged to provide input in the programme planning as well as to regular donations to the Museum's collection.
New York's Museum of Modern Art is one of the world's first and most important institutions entirely devoted to modern and contemporary art. It was founded as a private initiative of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and two of her friends, who launched the Museum on 7th November, 1929. Nowadays, MoMA, located in the vicinity of Manhattan's landmarks: the Rockefeller Center and Times Square, is the world's leading modern art institution. It holds the largest and most comprehensive collection of contemporary painting and sculpture, spanning works from the end of 19th century to the most recent years. The Museum's collection also incorporates drawings, graphic arts, illustrations, architectural models, modern design, photography, and film. MoMA's fundamental mission is to celebrate the impact of the creators – their ideas, personalities, genius, as well as the contexts for their works (historical, geographical, cultural, and social). This idea motivated the foundation of one of the Museum's programme committees: Modern Women’s Fund Committee.
Today, Grażyna Kulczyk's collection comprises over five hundred works, which makes it the largest private collection in Poland, and one of the most important ones in that part of Europe. It is estimated to be worth up to one hundred million euro. Its core narrative is structured around the dialogue between Polish artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, and authors and art currents from all over the world. Artists such as Władysław Strzemiński, Zofia Kulik, Tadeusz Kantor, Roman Opałka, Paweł Althamer and Piotr Uklański are presented right next to the biggest international names. A few years ago, Kulczyk started shifting the character of her GK Collection in a more international direction, adding to it photographs by Andreas Gursky, paintings by Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell, and Anselm Kiefer, works by the notable female artists Yayoi Kusama and Rosemarie Trockel, works by the minimalists: Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Agnes Martin, or by the ZERO art group members: – Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, Güther Uecker, and installations by Loris Gréaud and Olafur Eliasson.
It is important to note that the GK Collection is just one of the elements of the collector's general mission, according to which she only invests in projects that balance business and art. Prototypical and best example of this 50-50 ideology is Stary Browar (Old Brewery) – a commercial and cultural space in Poznań which in 2004 became the site of her private gallery and the Art Stations Foundation, aimed at organizing exhibitions based on her collection, performances, and concerts, as well as realizing educational programmes and promoting contemporary art in everyday surroundings.
Grażyna Kulczyk's also carries out her cultural actvities outside of Poland. As a member of the Russia and Eastern Europe Acquisitions Committee, the collector also supports the programmes of the Kunsthalle in Zurich and London's Tate Modern. She also became engaged in the renovation works on the historic Brewery in Switzerland, which she wants to transform into a museum of Polish contemporary art.
[…] Poland is now one of the most important countries in Europe. We should aim for the “premier league” - and shape the debate and trends. These days, the world's leaders' opinions about a given country are based not just on its politics, military power, or economy, but also on our ability to be creative, on our social capital. This is why it is extremely important that Poland stresses its role and massive input into the fields of art and culture – claims Grażyna Kulczyk. – Works by Polish artists continue to appear in international art galleries, but there is still a lot left to be done.
The collector has been seeking an institutional partner in Poland, with whom she could launch a museum of contemporary Polish art – fashioned after the American public-private partnership schemes – which would enable her to hand her collection over to the wider public.
Source: Art Stations Foundation by Grazyna Kulczyk, ed. AS, 10.06.2015, transl. Ania Micińska