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The Society of Modern Art in Torun was established on the 28th of March 2000 by the staff and doctoral students of the Department of Modern Art History of  Fine Arts Faculty, NCU. Among statutory goals of the Society are conducting research activities on the art of the 19th and 20th century, supporting the goals of the Department by joint organisation of conferences, academic meetings, exhibitions,  and publishing texts promoting knowledge about modern art.

The society cultivates a tradition of the oldest Polish-Lithuanian academic art school  that can be associated then beginning of art history, the Section of Fine Arts of  the Vilna University, established in 1797, as well as Vilna School of Drawing and the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Stefan Batory University, moved in 1945 to Torun and included in to the structures of Nicolaus Copernicus University.

Inventory of architecture

In 2007 the society started cooperation with the Department of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage on the documentation Rezydencje na Ziemiach Wschodnich dawnej Rzeczypospolitej  [The Residences  in the Eastern part of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth] t. / vol. I – Dawne województwo wołyńskie [Former voivodeship of Volhynia – now in the Ukraine] (ed. by Wioletta Brzezińska-Marjanowska, Piotr Dąbrowski and Wojciech Romaniak). The goal of the project is the verification in place and supplementation of a multi-volume work by Roman Aftanazy, Materiały do dziejów rezydencji [Materials for the history of residences], the first edition of which was published between 1886 and 1993 by the  Institute of Art of  the Polish  Academy of Sciences in Warsaw on the initiative of the President of the Society, who was then the Vice Director of the Institute.  

The work consists of preparing the photographic  and measuring documentation for the objects and the texts based on archival preliminary research in Poland and the Ukraine. The research is conducted in cooperation with Rivne (Równe) University and Ukrainian scholars. It will form a two-part volume. The restoration assessment and directions included in the documentation will allow for the evaluation of the state in which particular objects represent and in consequence for selecting the monuments eligible for rescue works and it conservation works as well as for choosing objects of high artistic value for preparing full photographic and  measuring  inventory. The results of the documentation of palaces in Volhynia, including about 80 objects (e.g., Bileckie, Eliaszówka, Hołoby, Hoszcza, Korzec, Mizocz, Młynów, Nowomalin, Nowosielica, Klewań, Ołyka, Ostróg, Ostrożec, Samczyki, Szpanów, Urwenna, Zaturce) were gathered “Klasycystyczna architektura pałacowa na Wołyniu 1780-1831” [Classicist palace architecture on Volhynia 1780-1831] presented during a conference Stan badań nad wielokulturowym dziedzictwem dawnej Rzeczypospolitej [The state of research on multicultural heritage of former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth] organised by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Białystok between the 1st and the 3rd  October 2009 (W. Brzezińska-Marjanowska, Klasycystyczna architektura pałacowa na Wołyniu ok. 1780-1831 r. [w:] Stan badań nad wielokulturowym dziedzictwem dawnej Rzeczypospolitej, tom 1, pod red. W. Walczak, Białystok 2010)

Promotion of modern art

In 2001 Doctor  Małgorzata Jankowska (Vice-Head) started on the behalf of the Society and the Department  to co-operation with the Wozownia Art Gallery in Torun. The first event they organised together was  festival Spotkania Pracowni [Studios’ meetings], devoted to the art of new media. The purpose of the festival was the presentation of the most recent tendencies in video art in Poland and abroad and arranging workshops for young authors on the technical problems  of video, interactive arts, and sound with the participation of experienced artists. In a frame of following editions of the festival (2002-2006), and other artistic projects, the Society cooperates with numerous institutions and organisations from Poland and abroad in order to obtain subsidies and support; the organizations include the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship Office, the City of Toruń,  RSEI – Regional School of Computer Education at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, NCU, and Foundation of Polish-German Co-Operation.    

Thanks to the Society’s efforts and the subsidies from the City of Torun  in number 8 of Pamiętnik Sztuk Pięknych [Fine arts diary] Polish-English catalogue was published. It was the summary of several editions of Spotkania Pracowni [Studios’ meetings] and included documentation about the presentations of artists that today are quite important in Polish artistic circulation, for example Adam Witkowski, Mateusz Pęk or Angelika Fojtuch.

The Society established contacts with institutions from abroad. Thanks to the kindness of institutions like AEC Ars Electronica (Linz), V2_, Institute for the Unstable Media  (Rotterdam), or i-DAT (Institute of Digital Art and Technology) at the University of Plymouth during Spotkania Pracowni [Studios’ meetings] various promotional materials and documents on the achievements in the field of art and technology could be presented.

The Society unwaveringly carries out its programme of popularisation of art from Torun and Kuyavia-Pomeranian voivodeship. In a frame of cooperation with the Wozownia Art Gallery in the years 2005/2006 the exhibition Rozpoznanie. Demontaż doświadczeń [Reconnaissance. Dismantling of experience], presenting artists from the young generation connected with Toruń and the Facuty of Fine Arts, NCU. The exhibition was displayed in several major galleries in Poland: Arsenał City Gallery in Poznań, Bielska BWA Gallery in Bielsko-Biała or Bałucka Gallery in Łódź.

Between 2003 and 2005 Projekt Wozownia – Laboratorium Sztuki [Wozownia project – laboratory of art] was carried out. The originator and the tutor of the project was Doctor Jankowska. As a part of the project 15 original site-specific exhibitions were prepared. The outcome of the project was summarized in joint Polish-English exhibition catalogues. Wozownia project and publications supplementing it were partially funded by Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship Office. The show presented projects by Katarzyna Józefowicz, Maciej Kurak, Eliza Galey, Angelika Fojtuch, Mateusz Fahrenholz, Agnieszka Rożnowska or Katarzyna Adaszewska.

Between 2005 and 2006 the Society worked on artistic project Pąsowa Róża [Crimson rose] devoted to social topics. Many famous artists from Poland and Germany took part in it, e.g. Artur Żmijewski, Anna Baumgart, Grzegorz Klaman, Barbara Maroń, Hito Steyerl or Julika Rudelius. Pąsowa Roża [Crimson Rose] was presented in Wozownia Art Gallery in Torun, Künstlerhaus in Stuttgart, and Center of Contemporary  Art  in Warsaw (2006). The project was accompanied by Polish-German catalogue financed by the Foundation of Polish-German Co-Operation.

In 2006 the Society prepared and coordinated Cause-And-Effect Project, an audiovisual interactive performance by Christopher Hales (Great Britain) and Teijo Pellinen (Finland) presented in the Wozownia Art Gallery. The project was  financed by the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship Office.

Other important artistic endeavours prepared together with the Wozownia Art Gallery include Entopia. Harmonia miasta  [Entropy. Harmony of the city] festival (2008/2009), which was devoted to art in public space as the point of the accumulation of social, cultural, and historical attitudes.


The Society took part, together with the Department of History of Modern Art, Nicolaus Copernicus University, in the organisation in Torun of three Conferences on Modern Art:  Sztuka 1905-1923 [Art in 1905-1923] (2005); Dzieje krytyki artystycznej i myśli o sztuce [History of art criticism and art theory] (2007);  and  Szpetne w sztukach pięknych. Brzydota, deformacja i ekspresja w sztuce  nowoczesnej [Ugly in fine arts. Ugliness, deformation, and expression in modern art] (2009).  The last event took place in the Center of Contemporary Arts. Post-conference materials either have already been published.

In 2010 the Society, together with the Department of History of Modern Art  and the Department of Graphic Design, NCU, as well as the Center of Contemporary Arts  in Torun, organized conference Młody plakat polski 2000-2010 [Young Polish poster 2000-2010] that accompanied I Międzynarodowy Festiwal Plakatu i Typografii PLASTER [The 1st International Poster and Typography Festival, PLASTER]. Part of the funds for financing the event was given by National Centre of Culture in Warsaw.

Jubilee International Conference on the bicentenary year of the first lecture on the history of art at Vilna University (15.09.1810) The history of the history of art in Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe organized in September 2010 crowns the period of rapid development of activity of the Society of Modern Art and  Department of History of Modern Art Nicolaus Copernicus University.

Prepared by Wioletta Brzezińska, Małgorzata Jankowska and Wojciech Romaniak