Does Vilnius belong to Central Europe?

Tomasz Gryglewicz (PDF)

The author tries to answer this question by referring to regions of artistic peculiarities. Central European political concepts were never realised and remained utopias. Meanwhile, the cultural concept of central Europe was born in the nineteenth century and has persisted in various forms to the present day. Historical ties have left cultural, artistic and mental traces. For example, a Samogitian Stanislavas Vitkevičius, based on folkloric elements of the highlanders, created the Zakopane style, which spread to Zakopane, Galicia and Lithuania. The activities of Jagiellonian University, the Academy of Fine Arts and the Vilnius painter Ferdynand Ruszczyc, a member of the Polish Artists Society ‘Sztuka’, founded in Krakow, were even more important in the spread of artistic culture. The society has exhibited its work throughout Europe and the United States. A strong development of late Vilnius Gothic was an artistic phenomenon of central Europe. Central Europe’s cultural distinctiveness was most evident in the flourishing of baroque art from Salzburg to Vilnius. Vilnius Romanticism can be seen as a typical central European phenomenon. Furthermore, the significant presence of a Jewish minority in Vilnius and other European cities was a key cosmopolitan element in the integration of central Europe.

Keywords: political concepts, cultural regions, Ferdynand Ruszczyc, Society ‘Sztuka’