Rene Wanner's Poster Page


book cover Ah! Film posters in Poland
by Dorota Folga-Januszewska (concept, text, editor), Maria Kurpik (poster selection), Justyna Czerniakowska and Lech Majewski (design), published by Bosz, Lesko (PL) (2010) ; 240 pages, 24 x 33 cm, 537 color reproductions ; hardcover; in english; ISBN 978-83-7576-059-1; PLZ 98.75 (about US$ 30), a polish edition "Ach! Plakat Filmowy W Polsce" ISBN 978-83-7576-049-1, is also available.
A history of polish movie posters from 1896 - 2007, published in collaboration with the Poster Museum in Wilanow, Warsaw
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Shortly after the Second World War, a seemingly unimportant event took place during a few meetings between some polish poster designers like Tadeusz Trepkowski, Henryk Tomaszewski and Eryk Lipinski and the new communist rulers of the country, during which the artists managed to obtain some limited freedom to design posters as they wanted, as long as they did not attack the state.

However, the agreement had long lasting and worldwide consequences: The artists, building on a strong poster tradition that existed in Poland even before the war (the book shows many examples of pre-war polish movie posters) used the possibilities to the hilt, and established an entirely new type of posters that later became known as "the school of polish poster design". It was so successfull, no doubt because it also received ample state support, that it led to the world's first poster museum in Wilanow, and the International Poster Bienniale in Warsaw which beamed the the polish influence not only to the countries behind the Iron Curtain, but throughout the world, to Japan, Cuba, Switzerland, France, Mexico, Iran. World poster design in the second half of the 20. century would have taken a different course without the polish contribution. Movie posters and theater posters were among the first fields to be conquered, while political posters were never popular in Poland, and product posters almost entirely absent. The new style was much closer to art than to advertising, and far away from the global movie poster style prevalent in the rest of the world.

This unique development begs to be analyzed and documented, in particular because it changed course again when the communist rule ended in 1989. To write another book was not so easy however, as Krzysztof Dydo, the collector and poster specialist from Cracow had already published, in 1996, a comprehensive volume on polish film posters. Warsaw's answer was to assemble the combined talent of it's leading poster people to write an updated version: Renowned art historian Dorota Folga-Januszewska, deputy head of the National Museum in Warsaw, Maria Kurpik, head of the Wilanow Poster Museum, and

1933, Stefan Norblin, Life verdict

1934, Artur Horowicz, What my husband does at night

1947, Henryk Tomaszewski, Black Narcissus

1948, Tadeusz Trepkowski, The last stage

1961, Roman Cieslewicz, Assasination attempt

1968, Franciszek Starowieyski, The bride wore black

1998, Roman Kalarus, Postmodernism in films

2006, Bogna Otto-Wegrzyn, Metropolis

The justification for the term "the school of polish poster design" has been questioned as an artificial construct, arguing that polish poster designers are individual artists that have little in common, went their own way, developed differently, and there was never a formal "school" that imposed a standard on them. If that were true, there would be little point of writing a history of film posters in Poland, such as the present one. The question will remain open, but fortunately the rich material in the book also allows the reader to study the poster history of a single artist, like Lech Majewski, for example:

1977, Lech Majewski, Dupont Lajoie

1979, Lech Majewski, The stud farm

1981, Lech Majewski, The meeting in the ravine of death

1982, Lech Majewski, Counteraction

1982, Lech Majewski, Inner state

1982, Lech Majewski, Mefisto

1984, Lech Majewski, The story of cloud mountain

2003, Lech Majewski, Festival dei popoli

This is an excellent book, and if it had an index of artists, film titles and directors, and a bibliography, it would be even better.

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