1st Edition

Art and Politics During the Cold War Poland and the Netherlands

By Michał Wenderski Copyright 2024
    176 Pages 14 Color & 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Drawing on thousands of historical documents from Polish and Dutch archives, this book explores the Cold War cultural exchange between so-called ‘smaller powers’ of this global conflict, which thus far has been predominately explored from the perspective of the two superpowers or more pivotal countries.  


    By looking at how cultural, artistic and scholarly relations were developed between Poland and the Netherlands, Michał Wenderski sheds new light on the history of the cultural Cold War that was not always orchestrated solely by its main players. Less pivotal states – for example, Poland and the Netherlands – likewise intentionally created their international cultural policies and shaped their cultural exchange with countries from the other side of the Iron Curtain. This study reconstructs these policies and identifies the varying factors that influenced them – both official and less formal.  


    The book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, history of the Cold War, postwar European history, international cultural relations, Dutch studies, and Polish studies. 

    List of Figures 


    List of Abbreviations 



    Chapter 1: Uneasy Beginnings (1947-1956) 

    “Nederland–Polen” as a Front Organisation of the Communist Authorities in Poland 

    First attempts at exhibition exchange between Poland and the Netherlands 

    Exhibiting Polish Folk Art in the Netherlands 

    Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place 

    Commemorating Mickiewicz in the Netherlands, and Rembrandt in Poland 

    Informal diplomacy through personal mobility 

    Other Forms of International Cultural Exchange and Policy 

    Chapter 2: Towards the Cultural Agreement (1956-1967) 

    A gradual shift in the Dutch international cultural policy towards Poland 

    Is it sheer incompetence, or is he maybe a Communist agent? 

    Polish artistic invasion in the Netherlands 

    Between Rembrandt and Van Gogh – exhibiting Dutch art in Poland 

    Other forms of cultural exchange between Poland and the Netherlands 

    Towards the Cultural Agreement 

    Chapter 3: Détente, but first the Year of Revolt (1968-1979) 

    1968 in Poland 

    The Impact of the 1968 Events on Cultural Relations 

    Polish Counter Measures 

    The Delayed Implementation of the Cultural Agreement 

    Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and its impact on Polish-Dutch cultural relations  

    Chapter 4: The Last Decade (1979-1989) 

    Bilateral relations before 13 December 1981 

    The World and The Hague react to the Polish Crisis 

    Towards Normalisation 



    Annex: Cultural Agreement between the Government of the Polish People's Republic and the Government of the Kingdom of The Netherlands 




    Michał Wenderski, PhD, is an architect and scholar of modern Dutch and Flemish art and literature specialising in the history of cultural relations between Poland and the Low Countries. He currently works at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland.