[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]


Related: Roman Polanski - Roland Topor - Walerian Borowczyk - Krzysztof Kieslowski - Andrzej Zulawski

Illustration by Roman Cieslewicz (1930-1996), date unidentified
image sourced here.

Poster for Amnesty International (1982) - Roland Topor [image link]

Polish posters

poster by Lech Majewski 1977 for Le Mouton enrage (1974)
sourced here. [Mar 2005]

About 500 more movie posters of the same site here. [Mar 2005]

A lot of patronizing drivel had been written about the 'Polish School' of poster design being a 'product' of a 'resistance to Communism' or some such (and by extension, of an overwhelming desire to breathe free under the learned guidance of a Bushmonkey-on-a-cheney). That view, espoused by Western writers who don't know any better, and Polish ones (who should know better) has been omnipresent lately. No matter that the idea of art as an expression of political circumstance is par excellence a classic communist one.

In fact, quite the opposite seems to be true : free from commercial stranglehold, these artists produced brilliant works over an extended period of time. A lot of talented people found themselves in the right place at the right time. Like any artistic movement (or 'school'), it had its own dynamics, peaks and valleys. Indeed, some of the most accomplished works were political (pro-socialist). And now the fact that Polish film poster is dead (and had been so since 1989 when the film distribution was privatized) is further evidence of that.

The golden decade of Polish film posters, from approximately the mid 50s to the mid 60s was preceded by the pioneering work of a trio of artists in the 1940s. Henryk Tomaszewski, Tadeusz Trepkowski and Eryk Lipinski were the original graphic designers commissioned in 1946 by Film Polski (a State film distribution monopoly) to design film posters.

Their work soon revolutionized this particular form of advertising. Rather than use the stereotypical images of movie stars and exclamation points, they employed a whole new arsenal of graphic interpretation to convey a shorthand essence of the film. Two terrific early examples are Tomaszewski' "Citizen Kane" 1948 poster, and Trepkowski' "Ostatni etap", also from 1948.

In 1948 the political climate changed and Social Realism was introduced. Few works from the 1949-1953 period retained the high standards established earlier. In the meantime more designers were drawn to the field : Wojciech Fangor, Waldemar Swierzy, Jan Lenica, Jerzy Treutler, Roman Cieslewicz, Wiktor Gorka, Jan Mlodozeniec, Julian Palka, Franciszek Starowieyski, Jozef Mroszczak, Wojciech Zamecznik - to mention the absolutely essential names. By 1955, the Stalinist policies were history and - with the restrictions gone - the field exploded with brilliant, classic works.

The golden period extended until 1965, more or less. Designs from the late 60s, while by no means regressing back to the corporate "art" of Hollywood, generally lack the freshness and boldness of the earlier pieces. At the same time, the variety of styles widened. Many new designers brought with them their own vision, spanning the spectrum from the lyrical impressionistic style of Maria Ihnatowicz, to the pop designs of Andrzej Krajewski; from the cyberpunk montages of Ryszard Kiwerski and Maciej Raducki, to minimalistic expressions of Bronislaw Zelek and Mieczyslaw Wasilewski.

In the mid-70s to mid-80s, the "Polish School" of poster design was suffering from atrophy of fresh ideas. Apart from the works of few artists who basically continued the previous trends, most posters from that period seem uninspired. In the 80s, the designs became politicized, with hardly any new designers entering the field. Some interesting trends emerged, signified by some works of Stasys Eidrigevicius and Wieslaw Walkuski, but overall quality of designs went rapidly downhill. Then came the 1990s, and the State monopoly ended. Suddenly the distribution of movies in Poland was taken over by Warner, Paramount, etc., and the Polish poster as we knew it ceased to exist. Nowadays, most films are released with the same sort of ad display as in the US - essentially a photo montage of stars with approved typeface. Very few designers try to continue their work, rarely issuing a very limited series of posters (300 to 500). These are never displayed on the streets, but are sold in galleries. --http://www.cinemaposter.com/index.html [Mar 2005]

The Painted Bird (1965) - Jerzy N. Kosinski

The Painted Bird (1965) - Jerzy N. Kosinski [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Semiautobiographical novel by Jerzy Kosinski, published in 1965 and revised in 1976. The ordeals of the central character parallel Kosinski's own experiences during World War II. A dark-haired Polish child who is taken for either a Gypsy or a Jew loses his parents in the mayhem of war and wanders through the countryside at the mercy of the brutal, thickheaded peasants he meets in the villages. He learns how to stay alive at any cost, turning survival into a moral imperative. Full of graphic scenes depicting rape, torture, and bestiality, the novel portrays evil in all its manifestations and speaks of human isolation as inevitable. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

The Painted Bird is a controversial 1965 novel by Jerzy Kosi?ski which describes the world as seen by a young black-haired, black-eyed boy who wanders about small towns scattered around Central or Eastern Europe (presumably Poland) during World War II. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Painted_Bird [Sept 2006]

Ferdydurke (1937) - Witold Gombrowicz

Ferdydurke (1937) - Witold Gombrowicz [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

First sentence
"Tuesday morning I awoke at that pale and lifeless hour when night is almost gone but dawn has not yet come into its own..."

From Library Journal
Originally published in 1937, this novel was banned by the Nazis and suppressed by the Communist regime in Gombrowicz's (1904-69) native Poland. While modern readers may not find the book's satire particularly subversive, the author's exuberant humor, suggesting the absurdist drama of Eugène Ionesco, if not the short fiction of Franz Kafka, is readily apparent in this new translation. --Richard Koss, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. via Amazon.com

Ferdydurke is a novel by the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz, published in 1937.

Considered a masterpiece of European modernism, Ferdydurke was published at an inopportune moment. World War II, Russia's imposition of a communist regime in Poland and the author's decades of exile in Argentina nearly erased public awareness of a novel that remains a singularly strange exploration of identity and cultural and political mores. In this darkly humourous story, Joey Kowalski describes his transformation from a 30-year-old man into a teenage boy. Kowalski's exploits are comic and erotic -- for this is a modernism closer to dada and the Marx brothers than to the elevated tones of T.S. Eliot or Ezra Pound -- but also carry a subtle undertone of philosophical seriousness.

Gombrowicz is interested in identity and the way time and circumstance, history and place impose form on people's lives. Unsentimental, mocking and sometimes brutal, Kowalski's youthfulness is callow and immature, but it is also free to revel in desire. Gombrowicz weaves into the book his theme that immaturity is the force behind our creative endeavors.

Gombrowicz himself wrote of his novel that it is not "... a satire on some social class, nor a nihilistic attack on culture... We live in an era of violent changes, of accelerated development, in which settled forms are breaking under life's pressure... The need to find a form for what is yet immature, uncrystalized and underdeveloped, as well as the groan at the impossibility of such a postulate -- this is the chief excitement of my book."

Danuta Borchardt made a fresh translation of the novel, published in 2000, that deftly captures Gombrowicz's idiosyncratic style, allowing English speakers to fully experience the text. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdydurke [Aug 2005]

Witold Gombrowicz
Witold Gombrowicz (August 4, 1904, Ma?oszyce, near Kielce, Poland – July 24, 1969, Vence, near Nice, France) was a Polish novelist and dramatist active from the 1930s until the end of his life. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witold_Gombrowicz [Aug 2005]

Inspired by Joost

See also: Poland - literature - 1937

Jan Lenica

Jan Lenica (1928-2001) was a Polish poster illustrator and a collaborator on the early animation films of Walerian Borowczyk. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Lenica [Dec 2005]

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications