WEB POSTER EXHIBITION - Polish Art Deco posters in Lviv

This web exhibition accompanies the exhibition Art Deco Posters on Exhibition at the Museum Of Ethnography in Lviv, Ukraine.
Lviv is also know as Lvov (russian), Lwow (polish) or Lemberg (german), reflecting its turbulent political history.

The following text was kindly provided by Wladyslaw Serwatowski, the pictures are from the web site culture.pl of the Instytut Adama Mickiewicza in Warsaw (PL).

From 14th December until 27th February 2005, 101 posters were displayed in the Museum of Ethnography in Lviv. In March and April they are to be exhibited in Lutsk (UA) in the Regional Museum of Art. These posters are on display for the first time in the history of polish culture thanks to efforts of the Poland General Consulate in Lviv in the context of the Polish Year in Ukraine.

1935, Mieczyslaw Rozanski
Swieto gor

?, Edmund Bartlomiejczyk
Wielka loteria artystyczna

?, Tadeusz Gronowski
Zloz dar!

1931, Tadeusz Gronowski
Polskie Linje Lotnicze

1930, Zygmunt Gorski
Bal mlodej

?, anon.
Rymanow zdroj

Anniversaries of national fame and glory, the first flights and cruises, eastern fairs, economic expositions, bank services advertisements, new species of wheat and tobacco, invitations to health resorts in Iwonicz and Rymanow, luxurious balls of architects, tempting smokers, warnings for those who like alcohol - these are only some subjects of polish Art Deco posters, published in 1919-1939.

"The poster should be widely created like fountain pens or cars and move people, who can see it in the streets" - claimed Adolf Mouron, born in 1901 in Kharkov. This artist has been known as Cassandre since 1922 and considered the most popular poster maker of Art Deco style.

The exhibition in the Museum of Ethnography in Lviv is the first display in Art Deco style in the history of polish posters. The whole collection of 101 works is unique in its character. It has been preserved, reconstructed and made open to the public. It is graced by the following names: Tadeusz Gronowski, Stefan Osiecki, Jerzy Skolimowski, Janusz Alchimowicz, Boleslaw Surallo, Jan Mucharski; and by works from printing houses of Lviv - Hegedus's and Piller-Neumann's.

Art Deco, which owes its fame to the association of artists decorators in Paris (1900), the International Exhibition of Decorative Art in Turin and the international exhibition EXPO held in 1925 in Paris. Art Deco posters seem sophisticated thanks to the decorative motifs of plant, figurative and geometrical patterns close to Art Nouveau, Futurism, Constructivism, Cubism, Surrealism and New Typography. Poster makers referred to naive, primitive and folk art as well as kitsch.

On the EXPO in 1925 the artistic kinship of polish creators and Cassandro was visible. The latter was awarded with Grand Prix for yellow-black advertising poster for the furniture company "Au Boucheron". 19 polish poster makers exhibited their works and 13 of them were awarded. Grand Prix: Zofia Stryjenska, Tadeusz Gronowski; Honourable diplomas: Ludwik Gardowski, Karol Stryjenski; Medals - Gold: Edmund Bartlomiejczyk, Karol Frycz; Silver: Teodor Axentowicz, Jan Bukowski, Edmund John, Felicjan Szczesny-Kowarski, Antoni Procajlowicz, Edward Trojanowski; Bronze: Henryk Uziemblo.

The international recognition of polish poster makers caused Art Deco to become a language in artistic elite circles and a noble fashion as well as the official artistic tendency and original design trend. The Polish School of Poster appeared as early as the 1920s. Art historians call its style the 1925 Style or the Style of the Second Republic.

Polish Art Deco posters in Lviv collections can be classified as poster of Coco Chanel style (with the dominant figure of an elegant woman with geometrical shapes and straight lines), Cheret's style (central figure in the poster is shown as a beauty), posters in zigzag style (connection of geometrical Cubism forms and monumental forms with lines closer to Constructivists and Futurists) and poster of modern jazz style (moving letters predominating a drawing).

Posters of Tadeusz Gronowski prevail on this exhibition. In 1981 in Warsaw he claimed enthusiastically that he always designs his posters with the motif of a woman or some surprising intrigue. When I mentioned that there is no woman motif in many of his posters he answered humorously : "and this is the intrigue - heroines of my posters are in fact in front of posters, which appeal to them with their decorative beauty".

The artistry of Gronowski was based on the decoration of the advertisement slogans with ideas, metaphors, elegant jokes, sometimes opposing the real world. Gronowski evoked emotions and his wit aroused and developed the pleasure of watching new titles. Gronowski's journeys to Paris made him an arbiter of elegance and taste, which caused posters to be the basis of modern and decorative designing. Gronowski developed the role of a sign and a graphic shortcut in polish poster and was first to use aerograph to cover evenly a surface with paint. He introduced a technique, which enriched a drawing by new modeling values. Posters gained new dimension, becoming convex, and shade effects outlined the characteristic colour trails. Gronowski gave refinement to posters and made the figures he portrayed stylish and elegant.

Art Deco posters present evolution in polish typography. It consists in abandonment of formal discipline and approval of the freedom of design. Poster makers stop applying typography they have been using so far. They compose new pictures of letters: Tadeusz Kryszak Surallo, Gronowski, Machan, Miniewska, Przybylska, Wojciech Weiss. The decorative form of poster appeared after rejecting the rule of writing in horizontal lines and homogeneity of fonts and their size. The decorative art introduced new proportions of letters, whose legibility and visibility are in harmony.

On the exhibition there are posters of authors who used letters in Art Deco style. They followed Paul Renner's typography. His fonts are Futura, Black Futura and Bright Futura. All of them became the identification sign of Art Deco posters of 1930s. The other person associated with typography was an Englishman Eric Gill. His input include fonts Perpetua and Italic Felicity in Stefan Norblin's and Franciszek Seifert's achievements.

The exhibition in the Museum of Ethnography in Lviv is an occasion to acquaint oneself with the interesting documents about polish social life of 1920s and 1930s. It is a proof that the history of polish poster, which began in the Second Republic of Poland, is very rich.

Translation: Anna Paciorek
© Wladyslaw Serwatowski
Center for International Cultural Co-operation
Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Warsaw (PL)

1937, N. Gokh ?
17. Targi wschodnie

1930, Tadeusz Gronowski
Odparcia najazdu rosji sowieckiej

1931, Tadeusz Gronowski
Egipskie przednie

1928, Monogram M.A.
8. Targi wschodnie

1931, Tadeusz Gronowski

?, Maciej Nowicki, Stanislawa Sandecka
Wszczy do walki gruzlica

home  previous exhibitions  page created on March 14, 2005 / this section is part of Rene Wanner's Poster Page /