The book offers a critical approach to the legacy of Piotr Piotrowski (1952–2015), who has become one of the major figures in the discourse of both East-Central European art history and global art history. It focuses on an aspect of his writing that is less well-known to the international audience: his interest in the political engagement of art, artists, and art historians and his devotion to issues of democracy. These qualities were always at the core of both his art historical writings and his activities as a critic, curator, museum director, and citizen. It also emphasises the importance of friendship and the role it plays in the practice of art history. Piotrowski’s winning personality attracted a substantial number of people, enabling him to build long-standing relationships that offered mutual professional and personal impact.
Compiled after Piotrowski’s untimely death, the book includes contributions by Polish and international scholars who had an impact on Piotrowski’s intellectual development, identify themselves as belonging to his school of thought, or acknowledge his influence on their critical and historical writing: his teachers, students and colleagues, with whom he collaborated throughout his life. They offer an insight into different periods in Piotrowski’s academic work, presenting not only the development of his intellectual biography, but also of East-Central European art history. The essays included benefit from their authors’ close collaboration with Piotrowski in the past, or at least from numerous discussions with him, which makes this volume unique in its combination of scholarly discourse and subtle private overtones.