Among Artists and Athletes, Town Museum

Zacieniona sala ze zdjęciami artystów i sportowcow na ścianach.

The double-breasted jacket from the ceremonial outfit of the ‘Falcon’ Gymnastic Society was made from green cloth and has five original buttons. The first seat of the Society in Galicia was established in Lviv in 1867. Its branch was established in Krakow several years later and the branch in Wadowice where the Society’s slogans had many followers emerged in April 1887. Authors of the initiative for the establishment of the Wadowice branch of the ‘Sokół’ were Fryderyk Lachner, a grammar school professor, and Karol Młodzik, a legal trainee. The statute of the Society states that the Society’s objective is to nurture gymnastics in general and hygienic-rational and educational gymnastics in particular. The association in its early years was headed by physician Dr Mieczysław Władysław Gedl. The seat of the Wadowice ‘Sokół’ was built in 1889 as the second one in Galicia after the one in Lviv. The number of Society members and students participating in sports events organised by ‘Sokół’ grew rapidly and amounted to more than 800 people in 1905. In addition to gymnastics, practised activities included fencing, tennis and shooting. The medal commemorating the 30th anniversary of the ‘Sokół’ Gymnastic Society in Wadowice refers to the inter-war period with its intense focus on the physical fitness of young people. Sporting life was centred around the ‘Sokół’ Gymnastic Society, which offered young athletes an opportunity to develop their physical prowess in a variety of disciplines. Active sections included volleyball, basketball, cycling and tennis. The person in charge of the gymnastic section was Zenon Kęcki, the head of the Wadowice ‘Sokół’ since 1927 and a member of the Polish Olympic team in 1935. A talented athlete, he performed many times in gymnastic shows at ‘Sokół’ rallies in Lviv, Poznan and Belgrade. Football was practiced in ‘Skawa’ and ‘Polonia’. Young Jews had their own football and volleyball club called ‘Makkabi Arie’. However, strength sports were one of the favourite pastimes of the Wadowice boys. Stanisław Żmuda, called ‘Biceps’, was second to none in arm wrestling.

The woodcut on display depicts the main altar in the Church of the Presentation of Blessed Virgin Mary in Wadowice by the talented painter and sculptor Wincenty Bałys (1906 – 1939). The artist was a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków and a pupil of Xawery Dunikowski. The ‘Czartak II’ group of visual artists  was founded on his initiative in 1933. The name referred to the literary group ‘Czartak’ led by Emil Zegadłowicz, a writer and poet from Gorzeń Górny. Bałys cooperated with another young sculptor, Franciszek Suknarowski, and became friends with Karol Wojtyła and Mieczysław Kotlarczyk before the outbreak of the World War II. The art of Wincenty Bałys significantly influenced young Wojtyła’s sensitivity to art and the beauty of the surrounding world. The artist was arrested in the first weeks of the occupation due to his participation in the Orzeł Biały underground organisation and murdered by the Nazis in Krakow in December 1939. The bronze ‘Chała’ sculpture on display at the exhibition was made by the sculptor and painter Franciszek Suknarowski (1912–1998) who, at the beginning of his artistic career, met Wincenty Bałys, who was older than himself and Emil Zegadłowicz, a poet, a writer, and an art collector and patron. Suknarowski graduated from the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts where he studied with professors Xawery Dunikowski (sculpture) and Kazimierz Sichulski (drawing). In 1933 he took part in the exhibition of sculpture and paintings organised to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Zegadłowicz’s artistic career. The ‘Głos Narodu’ daily published in Krakow wrote: ‘(...) in addition to names that are well-known and respected in Polish art, young artists debut at the exhibition (...) Bałys Wincenty and Suknarowski [Franciszek], the sculptors have the impetus, width and boldness of their master Prof. Dunikowski whose example they also follow successfully by painting.’ In the 1930s, the artist belonged to the ‘Czartak II’ group of visual artists headed by his friend Wincenty Bałys.


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