by Staś Kmieć
The Museum of Modern Art is presenting Polish Posters 1945-89, an installation drawn from the Museum's collection of 24 posters from the Cold War era of the Polish Poster School, which attracted international attention and admiration.
Drawing on a rich tradition in graphic arts, designers like Henryk Tomaszewski, Roman Cieślewicz, Jan Lenica, and Franciszek Starowieyski developed a sophisticated visual language characterized by surreal and expressionist tendencies, a bold use of color, and macabre, often satirical humor.
Polish posters were generally created to promote cultural events, opera, theatre, films and exhibitions. These posters images frequently contained explicit evocations of violence and sexuality and appeared at a time when there was little or no advertising.
The Communist state maintained a strict censorship policy and monopolized the commissioning and distribution of all printed media in that period, yet bureaucratic patrons colluded in turning a blind eye to the oblique but powerful critical commentaries contained in many of the posters.
On view: May 6 through November 30, 2009 – The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY; Philip Johnson Architecture and Design Galleries, third floor. http://www.moma.org/