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The Life and Art of Krystiana Robb-Narbutt (1945-2006)
Apr 28 2014

MONDAY, APRIL 28, 2014 | 7pm

Marek Bartelik; Irena Grudzinska Gross, Moderator; Dorota Jarecka; Wanda Siedlecka

Click HERE to listen to the audio.

Born in Warsaw after World War II, Polish Jewish artist Krystiana Robb-Narbutt created unique, genre-defying art. But for years Robb-Narbutt's work was dominated by loss. Drawing the same motif again and again of a tombstone or an ominous mountain, Robb-Narbutt used her art to try and come to terms with the horror of the Holocaust and her own personal tragedy of losing family in the war. How did Robb-Narbutt's Polish Jewish identity impact her work? How do we understand Robb-Narbutt's art? In this program art historian Marek Bartelik, art critic Dorota Jarecka, and artist Wanda Siedlecka discussed Robb-Narbutt's life, her compulsive exploration of her Jewishness through her work, and new approaches to understanding her art. A reception will follow the event.

This program is presented by YIVO, the Polish Cultural Institute New York, and The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute Warsaw.


Marek Bartelik was born in Olsztyn, Poland, and in 1985 moved to the United States, where he currently resides. He holds a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Columbia University and a PhD in Art History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been teaching modern and contemporary art at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York since 1996. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Yale and MIT. Professor Bartelik is a Graduate Critic-in-Residence at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. He has lectured nationally and internationally at, among other places, MoMA in New York and the Boston Museum of Art in Boston, the Polish Academy of Science in Warsaw, the Municipal Museum in The Hague, the Museo National de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, and the Pinacoteca in São Paulo. He is a regular contributor to Artforum International, for which he wrote reviews from over twenty countries on five continents.

Irena Grudzinska Gross (Moderator) is Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer in the department of Slavic Studies at Princeton University, where her research focuses on European intellectual history and literature. She has also held academic appointments at the Polish Academy of Science, Boston University, and New York University. Professor Gross has authored or edited numerous books in Polish and English, including The Scar of Revolution: Custine, Tocqueville, and the Romantic Imagination (University of California Press) and Czeslaw Milosz and Joseph Brodsky: Fellowship of Poets (Yale University Press). She is currently at work on a book on issues of war, violence, and nation-state ideologies in 20th century East-Central Europe, which draws on the poetry of Czeslaw Milosz.

Dorota Jarecka is an art critic and art historian based in Warsaw. From 1996 to 2012 she was a full-time journalist at the leading Polish daily newspaper “Gazeta Wyborcza.” Since 2012 she has been a freelance writer, contributing to “Gazeta Wyborcza.” She organized the “Critics and Critics” program and the art writing workshop, both at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw in 2011-12. The following year she ran the series "Marxism and Art," also at the Museum of Modern Art, in cooperation with Warsaw University. She was co-curator, with Barbara Piwowarska, of the show “Erna Rosenstein. I Can Repeat Only Unconsciously” at the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw in 2011. She is also co-editor, with Wanda Siedlecka, of the publication Krystiana Robb-Narbutt. Drawings, Objects, Studio (Krystiana Robb-Narbutt Foundation and Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw) and the author of the book Let it be. Dorota Jarecka talks to Anda Rottenberg (Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej). She is a member of Obywatelskie Forum Sztuki Współczesnej (Citizens Forum for Contemporary Art) and the International Association of Art Critics. In 2012 she received the Jerzy Stajuda Prize for Art Criticism.

Wanda Siedlecka is an artist and a designer. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland, she worked as a director of a non-profit gallery, curated shows and wrote catalog essays. Since 1982 she has lived in New York where she worked as a designer for book publishers. She runs The Painters, a non-profit Gallery in Upstate New York. She is co-editor, with Dorota Jarecka, of the publication Krystiana Robb-Narbutt. Drawings, Objects, Studio (Krystiana Robb-Narbutt Foundation and Zachęta National Gallery of Art).