Photo Rene Wanner
Portrait of Maciej Urbaniec, 2002

1960, Watch out! your head isn't rubber, work safety poster with a self portrait

1964, Spartakiada, a sports event

1970, circus poster

1972, peace poster

1974, Wyspianski, The wedding

1975, Rozewicz, The card file

1977, May 1

1980, Shakespeare, As you like it (also known as The Twelfth Night)

  Maciej Jerzy Ździeblan-Urbaniec
born 01.09.1925 in Zwierzyniec, died 19.05.2004 in Nowy Sącz, Poland.

by Anna Zabrzeska-Pilipajc - custodian at the Poster Museum in Wilanów, Warsaw (PL)

The illustrations at left are mostly from the database of the poster shop The Art of Poster, with kind permission from Piotr Dabrowski.

Born Maciej Ździeblan-Urbaniec, he used "Urbaniec" as his nom de guerre during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, and later kept that name throughout his life. He comes from mountains and there is a custom in great uplanders` families to give a sort of a by-name to each offshoot and “Ździeblan” is such “additional” name, but in everyday life the artist used only the last part of his name.

Between 1952-54 Urbaniec studied in the National Academy of Plastic Arts in Wrocław, then in 1954 – 58 in Prof. Henryk Tomaszewski’s Poster Studio in the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (graduated with honours).

From 1970 to 1975 he was Assistant Professor in the Graphic Design Studio at the Department of Painting, Graphics and Sculpture in the National Academy of Plastic Arts in Wrocław. Towards the end of 1975 he became the Manager of Graphic Design Studio of Warsaw’s ASP [Academy of Fine Arts]. He was appreciated and liked by students; one of his students was Jerzy Czerniawski.

Apart from teaching, he created utility graphics, mainly poster, illustrations and book graphics. Many years’ co-operation with Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy [the State Publishing Institute] resulted in developing jackets and graphic designs; his works include the creation of a well-known popular science book series – "plus-minus nieskończoność” [“plus-minus infinity"]: ("This symbol merges the mathematical and aesthetic order. This tension gives birth to a symbol of human creativity." 1) The artist received many award for "Best published novel of the year" in a competition organized by the State Association of Book Publisher in Poland as well as a medal in International Editorial Art Exhibition (IBA) in Leipzig and at the International Biennale of Graphic Art in Bern.

In the field of poster he is considered to be an artist who apart from Franciszek Starowieyski and Waldemar Świerzy strongly influenced the development of Polish poster in the 70’s. He was a member of Alliance Graphique International. Since 1960 he participated in many exhibitions of poster in Poland and around the world.

Individual exhibitions:

Warsaw (1968, 1976, 2000, 2001); Szczecin (1969); Radom, Poznań, Gorzów Wielkopolski, Kalisz, Piła (1976); Zamość (1987); Nowy Sącz (1999)

His works are in collections of the Poster Museum at Wilanów, the National Museum in Poznań, the Museum of Sport and Tourism in Warsaw, the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Zürich, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and in many private collections.

Major awards

  • 1958 – Annual Reward of Artistic and Graphic Publishing House named after Tadeusz Trepkowski (KPP – PZPR 1918-1958)
  • 1961 – 2. degree award from the Ministry of Culture and Art for creativity as a whole
  • 1963 – Gold Medal at MWSE2
  • 1965 – Gold Medal at I BPP3 (Auschwitz 1945-1965)
    - Gold Medal (team award) at MWSE2
  • 1967 – Funded Award at II BPP3 (Poland see delight in its colourful folklore)
  • 1968 – Funded Award at II MBP4 (Cyrk) [Circus]
  • 1969 – "Bronze Mermaid" at VIII International Tourist Poster Exhibition in Milan (50 lat Polskiego Związku Piłki Nożnej) [50 years of Polish Association of Football]
    - Bronze medal at III BPP3 (Słowa sobie, czyny sobie) [Words One Way, Deeds Another]
  • 1970 – Honorary distinction at III MBP4 (Spawaczu chroń oczy) (Protect Your Eyes Welder)
    – 3. Prize and Silver Medal at IV MBGU5
    – Award at MWSE2
  • 1971 – Honorary Distiction (Cyrk; Nagłe wtargnięcie) [Circus, Sudden intrusion] as well as Funded Award (Are you fond of horseback-riding) at IV BPP3
    – Bronze Medal at MWSE2
  • 1972 – 1. Prize of the Polish Committee for the Protection of Peace and WAG (ABC)
  • 1973 – Gold Medal at V BPP3 in Katowice (ABC)
    – Gold Medal by the Association of Sicily Districts at 7. Exhibition of Tourist Poster of European, African and Mediterranean Countries in Catany, Italy (Polska zaprasza na camping) [Poland invites to go camping]
    – Silver medal at VI MBGU5
  • 1974 – Honorary Distinction V MBP4 (ABC)
    – Annual Reward from the Board of "Trybuna Ludu" [daily] for a graphic artist
  • 1975 – Silver Medal at VI BPP3 (Wesele) [Wedding]
  • 1976 – Price in Theatrical Poster Competition during "Kieler Woche", Köln, Federal Republic of Germany
  • 1977 – Golden Medals (1 Maja; Kartoteka) [1st of May, Card index] and Funded Award (Jarmark Pułtuski) [Pułtuski Fair] at VII BPP3
    - Distinction and Funded Award at II International Poster Biennale in Lahti, Finland (Wesele) [Wedding]
  • 1980 – Funded Award at VIII MBP4 (1 Maja) [1st of May]
    – Bronze Medal at MWSE2
  • 1997 – Honorary Distinction for creativity as a whole during Jubilee XV BPP3

He is also the winner of fifteen Awards of the Year in a competition organized by the publishing house "Wydawnictwo Artystyczno-Graficzne" (later "Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza") and the daily “Życie Warszawy” for "Warsaw’s Best Poster" and many other awards of the month in this competition.

Major articles published about the artist:

"Projekt" 1967/ No2; "Polska" 1968/ No10; "Kultura" 1971/ No5; "Polska" 1975/ No8; "Życie Warszawy” No201/25.08.1978; "Projekt" 1978/ No1; "Nowe Książki” 1983/ No9; "Rzeczpospolita" No86/11.04.2001; "2+3 D grafika plus produkt” 2004/No3 .

In his early posters, particularly in those concerning sports, he uses masterly controlled painter’s craft. They are dynamic, full of flashes of motion, seemingly unimpeded painting etudes, which combined with the frugal use of graphic elements are locked in a precise composition (Auschwitz 1945-1965).

In time he turns to pastiche – mainly the Italian quatrocento painting or more precisely so characteristic portrait painting. Toying with conventions, he managed to create a poster on any subject - starting from Cyrk z Moną Lizą (1970) [Circus with Mona Lisa], to theatrical Wieczór trzech króli (1973) [Shakespeare’s Twelfth night], to social motifs: Zdrowa matka – zdrowe dziecko [Healthy Mother - Healthy Child] (1974), Samotny chory czeka [Lonely Person Is Waiting] (1976), or occasional Międzynarodowy Dzień Dziecka [International Children’s Day] (1973). He also makes use of other painting styles e.g.: Mutter Courage (1978) – German expressionism, Plakatkunst in Polen (1974) – seventeenth - century Dutch posy, Pracuj bez takich strat [Work without such losses] (1971) – suprarealism.

In the 70’s his immensely original posters are created, designed on the basis of arranged photographic props (often they are veritable installations) with manifold references concerning poster’s content, rich symbolism, attribution and iconography, e.g.: Wesele [Wedding] (1974), Halka (1975), Jarmark pułtuski [Pułtusk Fair] (1976), Województwo Płockie zaprasza [Płock Voivodship invites you] (1976), Pamięci ludzkiej tragedii [In memory of human tragedy] (1976), Kartoteka [Card Index] (1975), ABC (1971) and many others until the last poster created shortly before his death Historia malowana na niebie [History painted in the sky] (2004).

In the multitude of techniques and conventions, the artist was always aware of his quest for unity between form and content and invariably achieved purity of subject and performance.

Anna Zabrzeska-Pilipajć

1 Small Gallery of Graphics. Maciej Urbaniec … [in:] Nowe Ksiazki [periodical] No 9/09. 1983
2 MWSE International Exhibition of Editorial Art (IBA) in Leipzig
3 BPP Polish Poster Biennale in Katowice
4 MBP International Poster Biennale in Warsaw
5 MBGU International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno

home   more obituaries   page created on December 12, 2004 / this section is part of Rene Wanner's Poster Page /