Wednesday, June 11, 2008

JOSH - Jan Lencia - 50's

In 1954 he was appointed assistant to Henryk Tomaszewski at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. He was preoccupied with satirical drawing from 1945, regularly contributing to the satirical journal "Szpilki" as well as with book illustration, and started to make posters in 1950. In 1974 he lectured on poster art at Harvard University in Cambridge, USA.
His fame/recognition and international acclaim was earned by his poster art in which he was considered one of the world’s finest artists.
His early, abstract drawings were shown at the Modern Art Exhibition in Krakow in 1948.
Altogether Lenica made over 200 posters. Among his finest works is WOZZECK which was made in 1964 to Alban Berg's opera and won the Grand Prix at the POSTER BIENNIAL IN WARSAW
Searching for his own form of artistic expression, he took an early interest in theatre and film poster. At the time of the Socialist Realism this allowed him considerable artistic freedom, releasing him from the obligation to follow the academic conventions imposed on other fine arts. In the early 1950s he was among the young graphic artists who created the famed "Polish school of poster".
three stages can be distinguished in the development of his artistic poster language. Firstly, in 1950-6, was influenced by realism. The works more illustrative and conveyed the climate of the announced films or theatre plays. Secondly, formal search. The artist introduced different, experimental means of expression, such as collages of old drawings and paper cutouts.
Around 1962 he started to make posters for the Warsaw Opera and embarked on the third stage of his poster design to develop his own, characteristic "handwriting". Lenica's posters are in fact gouache, watercolour, tempera paintings on paper. He created his own, individual and distinct artistic language which used a capricious, flowing, wavy line betraying fascination with Art Nouveau and a simplified, detail-free form. There is no room for decorativeness or ornament in his posters. "Poster art seems closest to jazz: it is all about being able to play somebody else's theme in one’s own way" (Jan Lenica).
Lenica preferred to use two-dimensional forms, the space of his posters having neither background nor perspective. There was irony and absurdity in them, the artist creating a brand new, grotesque reality; he was also a master of poetic metaphor. Most of his posters resemble paintings; many were made in the gouache technique. The people in his posters seem to speak or cry out to the viewer; Lenica himself used to say that "a poster must sing".

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