When I first discovered Polish Poster design some five or six years ago, I wasn’t sure that what I was seeing was to be believed. There’s a certain tendency to be skeptical of things you find on the Internet, and here was a collection of Polish Posters – most of which were menacing and ambiguous in equal measure – created to market movies as different as Blow-Up and Weekend at Bernie’s. Perhaps, in their time, these posters were nothing more than a minor curiosity, destined to be rediscovered by the Tumblr set.
Actually, the Polish Poster movement represented one of the most important graphic design developments in the 20th Century, and in their hay day, these works were as visible as any poster created for a summer blockbuster today.
So how did the Polish School of Poster come about? In 1945, Nazis destroyed most of Warsaw during their retreat, leaving nearly 80% of the city in ruin. The rebuilding effort resulted in fenced-in construction sites all over the city – in effect creating a city-wide gallery tailor made for hanging poster art. There was also a backlog of American and Foreign films waiting to be seen in Poland, all of which required accompanying promotional materials created in Polish. With virtually no Polish art market to speak of, artists turned to the only game in town, poster design.
Below is a selection of Polish Film Posters, including a poster for Agnieszka Holland’s Europa Europa. We will welcome Holland to the DCJCC on November 30 for a screening of Europa Europa and a discussion with Aviva Kempner.
You can read more about Polish Poster Art at Adrian Curry’s Movie Poster of the Week blog, which informed much of this blog post.
Rosemary’s Baby Sunset Boulevard
Blow-Up Weekend at Bernie’s