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Polish film art on the poster

During this year's film festival in Krakow, Polish poster artist Andrzej Pagowski was celebrated with a large retrospective exhibition.

This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian

The afternoon sun is warm in Krakow in late May. I went to the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in the center of Krakow to see an exhibition of movie posters in the gallery, Galeria ASP. In collaboration with this year's film festival – the 58. in the row – is this May Day one finissage of the exhibition Poster Filmowy, that opened 26. April. The exhibition presents the internationally renowned film artwork of Polish Andrzej Pagowski (65), which has made it a way of life to design movie posters.

The movie poster art was at its peak in the 80 century, but in the 1989 – and after the fall of the wall – culture changed in the Polish film industry.

It is not often a movie poster receives such recognition that it is exhibited. But then we are in Poland, which has a long tradition of making art out of movie posters, and the artist – who has some of his works exhibited at Center Pompidou in Paris and MoMA in New York – is the man behind Wolf's Smile, named by MoMA as one of the most important 100 artworks after 1980. 

Eastern European movie poster art

Movie posters are largely intended to promote the films they illustrate, and may not be intended to be art in themselves. In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, poster art has been at the forefront for centuries – and especially in Poland – where there has been a tradition of interpreting and designing own movie posters for well-known Hollywood films. The film poster art was at its peak in the 80s, but in 1989 – and after the fall of the wall – the culture changed in the Polish film industry, and the producers now wanted more commercial movie posters. Often, the intriguing visual look and the handwriting disappeared, and the posters instead became simpler and more graphic in the expression. This hit many of the Polish artists hard, which can also be read from the movie posters. 

To meet the new commercial demands, Pagowski started his own advertising agency and went on to create posters for film and theater. The exhibition in Krakow is a tribute to the film and Pagowski's poster art. Pagowski's works can otherwise be seen in the permanent exhibition at the Polish Film Museum in Lodz, central Poland. The city is Poland's headquarters for the film industry, and the place where Krzysztof Kieslowski, Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polanski and a number of other directors and film photographers are educated.

40 years as an active artist

In connection with the exhibition, this artist will first hold a master class at the school for the festival's audience this May afternoon, before his finissage of the exhibition. 

On my way to find the master class I passed cool rooms inside the art school, with dedicated students immersed in work with sculpture or painting. The school is named after one of Poland's most famous painters, Jan Matejko, and here some of Poland's upcoming artists are formed. Maybe a future Pagowski is now sitting in the auditorium on the second floor to be inspired by the extensive work of the poster artist?

It is filmmaker Robert Sowa who heads the masterclass, which is more of a conversation with Pagowski showing his work in film, literature and theater. The atmosphere in the auditorium is warm and engaged. After the applause is over, everyone is invited down to the gallery on the ground floor. 

The exhibition in Krakow is a tribute to the film and Pagowski's poster art. 

Director of the film festival, Krzysztof Gierat, presents a poster made by Pagowski for the film festival in 1984. It shows a head consisting of film rolls in red, yellow and green, with handwritten information about the festival. 

In the background, adorn colorful and diverse ornamental posters – 50 in total – that the artist has chosen from their long career. In total, he has designed over 1400 posters.  

In this month's issue of New Time, we have picked out a bunch of movie posters that present movies illustrated by Pagowski and that many of us also have a relationship with. You can see more on the artist's own website https://pagowski.pl

avatar photos
Kaisa Ytterhaug
Ytterhaug is a freelancer in Ny Tid.

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