Polish businessman and art collector Marek Roefler opened a private art museum, albeit with limited access, in a Warsaw suburb in May. A renovated, turn-of-the-century building, Villa La Fleur, houses Roefler’s extensive collection of Ecole de Paris works, mainly by artists of Polish descent working in Paris before the first world war. The collection comprises around 1,000 works by artists including Eugene Zak, Mela Muter, Leopold Gottlieb, Zygmunt Józef Menkes and Henri Hayden. Works by Tamara de Lempicka and Joachim Weingart are also on display, as are a number of international artists such as Emanuel Mané-Katz and Léopold Survage.
Roefler has been collecting the Ecole de Paris works for more than a decade, acquiring most of his collection through international auction houses and commercial galleries in France, England, Germany, Switzerland, the US and Israel. “The works of Polish Ecole de Paris artists are scattered all over the world,” says Roefler. “Through my collection, I was able to bring many of them back to Poland.” His interest in the movement was inspired by the collections of former tennis star-turned-dealer Wojciech Fibak and antiques dealer Marek Mielniczuk.
Roefler collects the work of mainly Polish artists to contribute to Poland’s sense of its national identity. “Through the destruction and robbery of so much art in the second world war, Poland does not have the same sense of continuity of more affluent European countries,” he says. “My collection is a way of tracing back our roots.”
The collection and museum is financed by Roefler and by the real estate company Dantex, of which he is the founder and chief executive.
While projects such as his are common in former communist countries such as Russia or Ukraine, Villa La Fleur is an almost unprecedented example in Poland, a country whose cultural institutions are traditionally exclusively state-controlled. While Villa La Fleur is currently accessible by appointment only, Roefler plans to establish regular opening hours in the future.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Oligarch opens museum in Warsaw'