Gallery »

It was here in Żelazowa Wola that Fryderyk Chopin entered the world. The area in which he spent the first few months of his life, and later returned for holidays, lies in the seemingly monotonous Mazovian landscape. On this rugged plain, a commemorative park was built whose carefully laid out, modernist composition kept the memory of the great Polish composer alive. For two decades, Adam Kaczkowski observed these two contrasting worlds.

Kaczkowski’s photographs are rooted in his experience of pictorialism, but reach further, towards the poetics of academic landscape painting. We can also view his work in terms of contemporary visual language. Analogies appear, rhythmic elements, and an interweaving of uniform, lace-like planes. Kaczkowski’s photographs provide evidence of how photographic modernism can be permeated by traditional ideas of composition.

We inscribe Kaczkowski’s work in the architecture of the Etude pavilion in two gestures. The first is subordinated to its austerity. We see that the ascetic landscape from the 1950s to 1970s was lost by  the visual degradation of the space.  In the second, the pictures run organically between the rhythmic columns, then subside into the silence of the park, where we remain alone with nature, as it has been sculpted by the hand of an artist.

Adam Kaczkowski – Photographer, member of the Polish Union of Photographic Artists, A-FIAP, E-FIAP. Born in Krakow in 1917, died in Warsaw in 1995.

‘Adam Kaczkowski first travelled to Żelazowa Wola to take photographs in 1957, to a commission from the Ministry of Culture and the Arts. In the evening, he developed the rolls of film, and then spent the next few days in the darkroom. “I’m not happy, I’ll have to go there several more times, and those willows have to be photographed at dawn, ideally after a storm.”

And so it began. Over the next twenty five years, he went to Żelazowa Wola at least four hundred times, usually packing into his car not just his cameras, but also tripods, home-made reflective screens, lamps with dozens of extension leads, and the obligatory ladder’.
(Piotr Kaczkowski, Introduction to: Żelazowa Wola. Adam Kaczkowski. Photography 1959-1975)

Major work: theatre and portrait photography (1947-1955), the albums “Return to the Old Town” (1953), “Żelazowa Wola” (six editions 1960-2011), “The Gates of Tragedy” (1970, expanded 1989, winner of the Interpress Photo Grand Prix 1964 for the series onf the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum), “Do the trees bud early in the Royal Baths Park” (1979), “The Holocaust Encyclopedia” (2001). His work was often exhibited and awarded prizes in many countries. The photographs from Żelazowa Wola are from the years 1956-1975, and have not been exhibited since the middle of the 1980s.

‘“Can music be conveyed by a photograph?” That is what he asked me more than once when I was helping him in the darkroom with the larger pictures of Żelazowa Wola […] “Yes, I hear Chopin in those photographs; I can play every print”.’
(Piotr Kaczkowski, Introduction to: Żelazowa Wola. Adam Kaczkowski. Photography 1959-1975)

Exhibition curators:

Maciej Janicki

Mariola Wojtkiewicz

Exhibition graphic design, visual identification and execution:


Design workshop

Danuta Słomczyńska


Exhibition is opened from 6 May to 30 September 2012

Exhibition opening hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.

The Birthplace of Fryderyk Chopin and Park in Żelazowa Wola, a branch of the Fryderyk Chopin Museum

Żelazowa Wola 15
96-503 Sochaczew
+48 46 86 33 300

26th of April 2012