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News: Exhibition of Hubert Hilscher (1924 - 1999) posters in Warsaw
received from Mariusz Knorowski

Exhibition poster by Leszek Holdanowicz

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Hubert Hilscher
25th June 2015 - 20th September 2015
Poster Museum at Wilanow
Stanislawa Kostki Potockiego 10/16, Warsaw, Poland

Hubert Hilscher's exhibition at the Poster Museum at Wilanów seems to be a natural consequence of a certain affinity which developed between this artist and our institution. Indeed, he belonged to a confined group of people who supported both the idea of the International Poster Biennale in Warsaw and the Museum itself, organically linked with this event. After both projects had been realised, he became our frequent, and often much demanded, collaborator. He designed posters to our exhibitions many a time. In the heroic period, when the Museum's identity was only fledging, he would offer some hearty advice, being a living proof of how important our institution was for the artistic milieu. Even more so, because the Museum had to satisfy high expectations back then, and it has continued to do so until now, treating this satisfaction as its honourable duty.

At the same time, Hubert Hilscher's work occupied a unique place on the map of the then graphic art. He absolutely deserved the title of "the authority", unanimously confirmed by opinions from his artistic peers. It was not only his versatile works in the field of widely understood artistic prints, an imposing artistic output, but also the function of the art manager in the magazine "Projekt" (today we would call him an "art director") which justified his rank.

Despite this, Hubert Hilschner kept a humble distance to the discipline which was his passion. He was characterized by deeply understood professionalism and self-restrained which would first make him respect a character of a given commission and the task placed before him. Following the principles of this genre of art, he did not impose his own vision domineeringly but would rather search for an easily digestible visual equivalent of a theme, sometimes giving it the shape of a graphic idiom.

After all, there are things and ideas - such as, for instance, contemporary music - which by their own nature will never yield to visualisation directly or react against a simple visual transcription. Then, all one can do is to tame the element of expression, coming from the outside like a somewhat self-imposing vision, and forge this vibrant, a-morphic matter into a visual harmony of a clear and readable composition. Owing to this, the composition can function as a poster or a piece of information, free from any personal fancy.

Hubert Hilschner faced such challenges aptly, which is proved, for instance, by his series of posters for the "Warsaw Autumn" Festival.

Further proof of his skill, actually incorporated in the universal history of the poster, is his series of circus posters. These realisations lack any utilitarian function whatsoever. Being purely decorative, they do not announce any concrete show, remaining a free variation on the phenomenon of "the last enclave of true art", as people would sometimes call the circus with no irony, where the impossible becomes possible and the other way round. These pieces do not only demonstrate the artist's masterly approach to a seemingly banal theme but, also, his fine sense of humour and the servile role of his works, expected to satiate the eye and entertain. No more than this.

His independent designs for various types of publications are another issue. Some of these works of his received awards many times. A dozen or so of his cover designs to the magazine "Projekt" should be treated as a certain whole. Peeping inside each issue of the magazine is also worthwhile as it helps one to form an opinion about the artistic line of this publication, which enjoyed unbelievable esteem both in Poland and abroad at that time.

The fact that the artist's work is recognisable means that each piece from his oeuvre bears his discreet, deeply camouflaged signature. If one wanted to search for a designate of the notion "high graphic culture", one can take today's exhibition as very convincing proof of the matter. Each Hubert Hilscher piece attracts our attention with its modest dignity and specific elegance, being somewhat of its author's afterimage who wanted to be an invisible man.
Mariusz Knorowski
Chief Curator, Poster Museum at Wilanow

Biographical note
Hubert Hilscher was born in Warsaw in 1924, and died there in 1999. During the Nazi occupation he was a soldier of the Home Army and fought in the Warsaw Uprising. From 1949-1955, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw; he received a diploma, graduating from Tadeusz Kulisiewicz's atelier. After his studies, he developed professional links with Graphic Arts Publishing House - WAG where he became the art director from 1961-1970. In the years 1959-1961, he prepared the graphic layout of the magazine "Przeglad Kulturalny". From 1962, he worked for "Projekt" bimonthly as an art director (preparing 140 issues), giving up his post during martial law in Poland in 1983. In the years 1965-1980, he was a member of the Organisational Committee of the International Poster Biennale in Warsaw and in the years 1965-1978 he was the vice president. He authored about 300 posters, mostly for exhibitions and music events, including a dozen or so projects for the Warsaw Autumn International Festiwal of Contemporary Music. He prepared graphic layouts for about 150 books, mostly albums on art, co-operating with numerous Polish publishing houses, such as Arkady, Wydawnictwo Artystyczne i Filmowe, Sport i Turystyka, Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Wydawnictwo Krupski i S-ka. Winner of many awards in this field, including in 1979 honoured with the Award of the Polish Society of Book Publishers (PTWK) for his outstanding achievements in the fields of typography and the art of making books. During martial law, he designed for the publishing house of the Museum of Warsaw Archdiocese, co-operating also with independent publishers, including Nowa, Przedswit, and Krag. He was the author of the graphic layout of John Paul II 's pilgrimage to Poland in 1983.

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