Muzeum Śląskie in Katowice has had a collection of non-professional art since 1984, initially as part of the Ethnography Department, then the Department of Non-Professional Art of the Art Department, now the Department of Non-Professional Art.
Described and recorded extensively, non-professional art is a phenomenon known since the late 19th century. The diversity of this field of art precludes any uniform criteria or unambiguous classification of related artists and their works. Even specialized researchers face challenges in this realm, as reflected by the imprecise names and the variety of terms used: naïve art, amateur art and self-taught art.
Muzeum Śląskie’s collection of non-professional art highlights the originality and identity of Silesia’s amateur art, primarily from the perspective of culture and identity, but also from the aesthetic and artistic viewpoint. The collected exhibits aim to highlight the amateur art movement from the interwar period to this day, focussing on groups such as Grupa Janowska, Gwarek 58, Bielszowice, Filar 72 and 18-Obsydian. The collection covers Silesia’s leading artists: Teofil Ociepka, Erwin Sówka, Paweł Wróbel, Ludwik Holesz, Bronisław Krawczuk, Ewald Gawlik, Władysław Luciński, Marek Idziaszek and Jan Nowak, as well as artists lesser-known yet equally important to understand this phenomenon.
The collection is not limited to Silesian artists, as it also includes works by major artists of other Polish regions such as Edmund Monsiel, Nikifor, Maria Wnęk, Stanisław Zagajewski and Justyna Matysiak, an inclusion that affords a broader view of this phenomenon and its comparative analysis.
Muzeum Śląskie’s ever-growing collection of non-professional art attests to the importance of the artists in question and promotes Upper Silesia as it is often featured in books, newspapers and films.