Polish Modern Art Foundation

Only Happiness is Real Life

exhibition opening: September 21, 2018, at 18:00

Center for Urban History of East Central Europe

6 Bohomoltsia Str., 79005 Lviv, Ukraine


duration of the exhibition: September 21 – December 21, 2018

Exhibition Zuzanna Ginczanka. Only Happiness is Real Life is an attempt to present the figure and work of the Polish poet of Jewish origin – Zuzanna Ginczanka, one of the more talented, and at the same time underestimated women writing in the interwar period.

The extraordinary figure and work of Zuzanna Ginczanka will be presented through archival materials from the collection of the Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature in Warsaw. That includes manuscripts and photographs from Ginczanka’s private albums, as well as works of modern art selected by the curators of the Polish Modern Art Foundation, which relate metaphorically both to her life and to poetry. The exhibition is an attempt to translate the poetic world into the language of visual arts, joining the world of image and words.

Zuzanna Ginczanka was born in 1917 in Kiev. She came from a family of assimilated Russian Jews. After the outbreak of the October Revolution, her family moved from Kiev to Równe in Volhynia. Ginczanka learned Polish herself, as at home she spoke mainly Russian. Later, she chose Polish to be her first language. She made her debut with The Holiday Feast (1931) in a Polish middle school in Równe, which she attended. In 1934, her poem Grammar was honored at the Young Poets’ Tournament announced by a weekly called Wiadomości Literackie. She studied pedagogy at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Warsaw. She belonged to the Skamander circle, was friends with Julian Tuwim and Witold Gombrowicz, and regularly frequented the famous Ziemiańska café. She published in Wiadomości Literackie and Skamander, cooperated with the satirical weekly Szpilki. After the outbreak of the Second World War, she fled to Lviv. After the German army entered Lviv, Ginczanka was denounced by the caretaker, a certain Chominow, immortalized in a poem [***] (Non omnis moriar). The poet miraculously avoided arrest, she had to flee from Lviv to Warsaw, then to Cracow, where she was hiding. At the end of 1943 or at the beginning of 1944, she was arrested by the Gestapo and murdered by the Germans in the same year in Cracow. Only one collection of poems was released during Ginczanka’s life – About Centaurs, published in 1936.


Artists whose works will be shown at the exhibition:

Andrij Bojarov, Hubert Czerepok, Alex Czetwertyński, Monika Drożyńska, Maya Gordon, Aneta Grzeszykowska, Zuzanna Hertzberg, Dominik Jałowiński, Angelika Markul, Anna Orlikowska, Krystyna Piotrowska, Konrad Pustoła, Mikill Skugga, Slavs and Tatars, Maria Stauber


Sarmen Beglarian, Sylwia Szymaniak (Polish Modern Art Foundation)
Joanna Pogorzelska, Zuzanna Rosińska (Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature in Warsaw)

Substantive cooperation:

Agata Araszkiewicz

Graphic design:

Aleksander Modzelewski

Public program:

Ostap Slyvynsky


Viktoriia Panas, Anna Rowińska


Iryna Matsevko (Center for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv)


Polish Modern Art Foundation
Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature in Warsaw
Center for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv


Polish Consulate in Lviv


Polish Society of Authors and Composers ZAiKS

Event as a part of:

Publishers’ Forum in Lviv


Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature is financed from the funds of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Self-government of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship.