Jarosław Suchan ousted from Muzeum Sztuki in Poland

On April 26, acting director Jarosław Suchan was forced out of his post at Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland. His replacement, Andrzej Biernacki, was chosen by Jarosław Sellin, Polish Deputy Minister of Culture and National Heritage. Suchan, known for his promotion of avant-garde Polish artists and for his connections to the international art world, had led the institution since 2006. Biernacki, an artist whose work closely follows the style of Francis Bacon, directs since 1991 the private Browarna Gallery in Łowicz, a town of about 28,000 inhabitants halfway between Warsaw and Łódź.

“I’m not going to get rid of the concept art that was acquired for the collection and is on display,” Biernacki told the Polish news site. Wyborcza. “But I intend to diversify [work on] offer, introduce other stories. Nobody said we should only deal with pro-environmental, gender or queer art promoted by western cultural institutions. Biernacki then underlined his intention to turn away from collecting works by international artists and focus instead on those of Polish artists, especially those from Łódź. Suchan, on the other hand, during his tenure as director established relationships with the Museum of Modern Art in New York and with the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, organizing a major retrospective of the work of Katarzyna Kobro and Władysław Strzemiński who started at the Reina Sofía and traveled to the Center Pompidou in Paris. He also established the MS2 branch of Muzeum Sztuki in the revitalized Manufaktura district and oversaw the renovation of M1, which houses the museum’s famous neoplastic hall and hosts exhibitions of contemporary and modern art, and the restoration of M3, in Herbst Palace. where the old masters of the museum are exhibited.

The overnight change in direction—Sellin nominated Biernacki for the role on April 25—outraged many in the Polish arts community. “I am shocked by this decision,” said Małgorzata Ludwisiak, chief curator of the NOMUs art museum in Gdańsk. Ludwisiak, former director of the Center for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle, was previously deputy director of Muzeum Sztuki. “The change from a highly competent world-class specialist who made Muzeum Sztuki the second MoMA to a man who runs a private gallery in Łowicz is hardly rational.”

While the speed of Suchan’s downfall was shocking, his ousting was not entirely unexpected, having been telegraphed in December 2021, when the Ministry of Art and Culture led by Piotr Gliński refused to renew his contract as manager, offering him the job of acting manager instead. , with a one-year contract. “I thought I would be notified ahead of time,” Suchan said ruefully, “and in the meantime, it happened overnight.” If a competition was open for the permanent position, Suchan said he had no interest in applying. “I’ve been living with uncertainty since the middle of last year,” he noted, adding emphatically, “I’m sick of it.”

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