These artists – Symbolists and heirs of Impressionism – were soon succeeded by the next generation. Much had changed in the newly independent Poland: women gained the right to vote in 1918, and new hierarchies and sensitivities arose affecting all spheres of life including art. In the late 1920s, left-wing students at the Academy of Fine Arts dreamt of a just world and modern art. Although their works show a fascination with geometric forms, they were not aiming to develop a common aesthetic; they all worked on their own, gathering in the evenings to discuss the future over tea.
This was the beginning of the Kraków Group, whose members included Aleksander (Sasza) Blonder (AKA André Blondel), Blima (Berta) Grünberg, Maria Jarema, Franciszek Jaźwiecki, Leopold Lewicki, Adam Marczyński, Stanisław Osostowicz, Szymon Piasecki, Mojżesz Schwanenfeld, Bolesław Stawiński, Jonasz Stern, Eugeniusz Waniek, Henryk Wiciński and Aleksander Winnicki. The students were detested by the establishment, and their art – bold, thoroughly modern, bearing resemblance to that being created in Paris and London – had ambitions to change the world. In contrast to previous generations, they were more interested in international avantgarde trends than Polish traditions.
The Group’s artistic expression wasn’t limited to painting and sculpture; they wrote satirical scripts and those involved with Józef Jarema’s Cricot Theatre also designed and made costumed and set designs and appeared on stage. The young artists gathered at the Artists’ House at Łobzowska Street – home of the Association of Polish Artists and Designers, founded in Kraków in 1911. The Modernist building is still the organisation’s headquarters, and the ground floor continues to operate as a coffee shop.