Marta Tarabuła and her pioneering gallery in Kraków

  • Anna Markowska (Autor/in)


ANNA MARKOWSKA (University of Wroclaw) / Marta Tarabula and her pioneering gallery in Krakow

Marta Tarabula founded the Zderzak (Bumper) gallery in 1985. At that time she was in her mid-20s and had just graduated from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow where she had been studying art history. An artist’s daughter, she had been deeply and inevitably involved in art since her childhood. However, in the 1980s Polish culture went underground because the society was strongly polarized due to the imposition of martial law (1981–1983). That is why Zderzak started as a gallery not supported by the national patronage and remained faithful to this idea even after the fall of the old regime and the democratization of the country. Although the gallery was initially conceived simply as a meeting place and a community centre, by the end of the 1980s Tarabula had already decided to create a commercial enterprise. Tarabula set herself two goals which she has always been faithful to: firstly, to find and promote young promising artists and secondly, to inscribe debutants into the historical framework of post-war art. As a result of this second objective, Zderzak quickly built up its prestige in new political circumstances, influenced new interpretations in art history and contributed to the development of not only private but also national collections. Tarabula’s gallery, founded as a free and independent enterprise outside of state censorship, stimulated and shaped the imagination of an entire generation. Undoubtedly, its pioneering role in changing the art scene before, during and after the political transformation period following the collapse of the USSR is one of the most important and ambitious in Poland.