Franciszek Starowieyski, poster for the film House under the Rocks
The socio-historical context in which the Polish Style of Poster Design flourished, consisted of oppression, regulatory rigidity, and censorship. Poland’s leading artists, professors of art, design and architecture focused their passion on one art form, the cultural advertising poster. To the people, poster art in the streets -on walls, fences and kiosks, represented hope, and the only beauty visible in their otherwise gray landscape.
The paradox of artists doing their best work under oppressive conditions arose from the demanding negotiation between Professor Henryk Tomaszewski and the Russian government at the end of WWII. Cultural Officials wanted the artists to create posters to promote cultural events such as imported U.S. films -Tomaszewski insisted, that to gain his support, and that of the artistic community and universities, the visual imagery created by the poster designers could not be censored or made to conform to the prevailing social realism style.
An agreement was reached, and a renaissance creating a new visual language using symbolism and metaphor was born. Through international biennales and graphic design competitions, Polish posters attracted international acclaim, and became one of the art world’s great stories of creativity. The recent film festival officially selected documentary film Freedom On The Fence pays tribute to this inspiring art history and homage to the now deceased decades of artists that produced these works.