I spent 4 days in this cool little city in September of this year and found as much street art, “organically,” as I could. By “organic,” I mean…explore the city on foot with no expectations and see what I could come across. I much prefer to document a city’s art this way, rather than researching addresses and trying to find particular murals. I’m sure that sounds odd, but it’s the way I like to do it. Please enjoy ~
On the pavements at the intersection of Pilsudskiego and Swidnicka streets, Polish artist Jerzy Kalina installed a total of 14 life-like statues–seven people descending into the ground on one end of the junction and seven people emerging from the ground on the adjacent corner.
The public art installation called Przejscie, translated as Passage or Transition was installed at the cross streets in December 2005 to mark the 24th anniversary of when martial law was introduced in Poland (December 13, 1981). It was a time when many ordinary civilians were killed and went missing, which is reflected by the descending pedestrians who disappear into the Earth. The imposing method of military ruling was lifted in 1983, as echoed by the rise of the ordinary man on the opposite side of the street. The installation provides a visual representation of time and power. https://mymodernmet.com/jerzy-kalina-passage-transition/
Creator: Gross, Frederic (gable)
Date: 1587-1592 (gable)
The Griffin House (Dom Pod Gryfami) on the western side of Wroclaw’s Rynek has one of the square’s tallest perimeter facades, built in the Flemish Renaissance style. (info from PSU Library)
A stencil of the iconic image of Gene Kelly singin’ in the rain (“I’m happy again!”) has even here since the spring of 2014.
Entitled ‘Judah,’ this large mural by Pil Peled – one of Israel’s most famous street artists – was created in July 2013 as part of the Jewish Culture Festival. According to the artist, the image of the child represents fear, vulnerability and the inner child, and the lion represents the Jews’ struggle to survive and preserve their culture, as well as the strength to overcome their fears. https://www.inyourpocket.com/krakow/judah_120346v
Created by the artist Broken Fingaz, this large-scale mural was created during the 2014 edition of Kraków’s Jewish Culture Festival. The mural takes inspiration from well-known art nouveau era artist Maurice Lilien – a native of Drohobycz (now in Ukraine) and graduate of the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts – and is dedicated to the memory of the Bosaków family who built the building and lived there through the generations for 400 years, before relocating to Israel after World War II. https://www.inyourpocket.com/krakow/plac-bawol-3_136577v
This mural by Piotr Janowczyk was installed outside Pub Wręga in autumn of 2015 as part of the Kazimierz Historical Murals (Kazimierskie murale historyczne) project. Featuring five portraits of Polish historical figures – namely, (from left to right) Emperor Józef Hapsburg II, Helena Rubinstein (born in the district), Karol Knaus (local architect, artist and conservator), Esterka (the lover of King Kazimierz the Great), and finally King Kazimierz the Great himself. https://www.inyourpocket.com/krakow/kazimierz-historical-mural_140658v
Freedom fighter Tadeusz Kościuszko. Pl. Wolności (Freedom Square.)
“I am another.”
“We are under protection, i.e. defenseless.”
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral ~ An Orthodox Church built at the end of the 19th century. The Cathedral was financed by the most prominent factory owners at that time, Karl Scheibler, Izrael Poznanski and Luliusz Kunitzer (none of whom were actually Orthodox Christians), to celebrate the miraculous survival of Russian Emperor Alexander II from an assassination attempt in 1879. (Poland was a part of Russia at the time). https://theculturetrip.com/europe/poland/articles/the-top-10-things-to-do-and-see-in-lodz/
“in the village of Kamien, he was elected King Henry of Valois.” ~ Henry III (19 September 1551 – 2 August 1589; born Alexandre Édouard de France, Polish: Henryk Walezy, Lithuanian: Henrikas Valua) was King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1573 to 1575 and King of France from 1574 until his death. Henry was the thirteenth king from the House of Valois, the sixth from the Valois-Orléans branch, the fifth from the Valois-Orléans-Angoulême branch, and the last male of his dynasty. (Wiki)
Created in 2010 to mark the XVI International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (The Year of Chopin, marking his birthday in 1810). The piece shows the composer in the company of people, objects and stories connected with his life – George Sand, tourists/Chopinologists, Napoleon Bonaparte as well as the planetoid (3784 Chopin) named after him. The artwork was designed by Marcin Urbanek, although the creation of the piece was a collective effort by many artists. https://www.inyourpocket.com/warsaw/chopin-mural_152838v
The anchor emblem seen on walls throughout the city, indicate significant locations for the Uprising of 1944. More information below the next photo.
So what does an anchor have to do with fighting Nazis? The Kotwica is actually more than an anchor, as the figure is an amalgam of the letters P and W, which take on a number of meanings when associated with the Polish Home Army’s (AK) fight to retake Warsaw. Starting in 1942, members of the Polish underground “Wawer Minor” sabotage unit started using “PW” to signify “Pomścimy Wawer” (“We Shall Avenge Wawer”). The Wawer Massacre of December 26-27, 1939 was one of the first massacres of Poles in occupied Poland, and its memory fueled the opposition in Warsaw. The meaning of “PW” was soon expanded to include “Polska Walcząca” (“Fighting Poland”).
“PW” increasingly appeared in the city as a “signature” on acts of resistance and sabotage; and in 1942 the AK put out a call to design an emblem that could be easily printed. A design that combined the P and W into an anchor – the Kotwica – was submitted by Anna Smoleńska (code name “Hania”) and was chosen as the symbol of the underground. Smoleńska, an art history student at the underground University of Warsaw, was arrested in November of 1942 and died in Auschwitz in March 1943 at the age of 23. Thought she did not live to see an independent Warsaw, the symbol she created endured though the war and beyond. https://culture.pl/en/article/decoding-warsaw-a-guide-to-the-citys-sights-and-symbols
Why the “Mermaid of Warsaw?”
One legend claims “long, long ago” two sirens swam from the Atlantic Ocean to the Baltic Sea. One sister stopped in the Danish straits and can to this day be seen by those visiting the port of Copenhagen. The other sister (clearly the one with more discerning taste) kept swimming until she reached Gdansk, where she then turned to follow the Wisla into the heart of Poland. Reaching what is today Warsaw, she decided she had found a home and stopped at the shore to rest. It wasn’t long after her arrival that local fishermen began noticing someone was tangling their nets and releasing the fish. Though it meant a loss of livelihood, the fishermen were so enchanted by the siren’s song that they never caught her. That is, until a wealthy merchant realized he could make a profit showing off the siren at fairs. He captured the Wisla siren and locked her away in a shed. The siren’s plaintive cries were heard by a young farmhand, who with the help of his friends, returned her to the river. Grateful to her rescuers, the siren vowed to help them in times of need. The siren of Warsaw is thus armed, waiting with sword and shield to make good on her promise and defend the city.
A second tale again highlights the mermaid as the armed defender of the city, though with a different origin story. This one claims that “in ancient times” a griffin defended the city. The griffin would often accompany local fishermen to the Baltic, and on one such journey he spotted a mermaid. It was love at first sight, and the mythical pair returned to live happily in Warsaw – until the griffin was mortally wounded during the Swedish invasion. As the siege of Warsaw raged around her, the mermaid picked up the arms of her dying lover and joined the defense of the city. In gratitude of her service and sacrifice, the people of Warsaw honored her by placing her image on the city’s coat of arms. https://culture.pl/en/article/decoding-warsaw-a-guide-to-the-citys-sights-and-symbols
The Soul of Poland is indestructible (Dusza Polski jest niezniszczalna.)
A display in a bookshop window.
A man descends into the underground Metro after work.
A group stops by one of the dozen or so benches in the city that play Chopin music 🎵 🎼 for passersby.
Mały Powstaniec (the “Little Insurrectionist”) is a statue in commemoration of the child soldiers who fought and died during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. It is located on Podwale Street, next to the ramparts of Warsaw’s Old Town. The statue is of a young boy wearing a helmet too large for his head and holding a submachine gun. It is reputed to be of a fighter who went by the pseudonym of “Antek”, and was killed on 8 August 1944 at the age of 13. The helmet and submachine gun are stylized after German equipment, which was captured during the uprising and used by the resistance fighters against the occupying forces. (Wiki)
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all the Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Europe during World War II.