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VeryGraphic: Polish Designers of the 20th Century

Okładka książki "VeryGraphic. Polish Designers of the 20th Century", wykonana odręcznie w różnych wariacjach kolorystycznych, projket graficzny: Kuba Sowiński, fot. Kuba Sowiński / IAM
VeryGraphic. Polish Designers of the 20th Century, book cover, painted by hand using different colours, publication design by Kuba Sowiński, photo: Kuba Sowiński / IAM

Following the release of Out of the Ordinary, presents another comprehensive publication on the history of Polish design. 448 pages, 64 designers, 57 chapters, 30 authors – VeryGraphic: Polish Designers of the 20th Century is the first complete work devoted to twentieth-century Polish graphic design, and was released on 25th March, 2015.

VeryGraphic. Polish Designers of the 20th Century, published by and edited by Jacek Mrowczyk, is a compilation of information on contemporary graphic design which is unprecedented in its scope. Together with Out of the Ordinary, the two publications constitute a unique compendium of knowledge on twentieth-century Polish design.

The book was published in English in order to present the immense and diverse legacy of Polish graphic designers to the world. Although it has a very rich history, Polish graphic design remains little known abroad. Polish applied design is much more than just the internationally acclaimed poster school.

The poster is the most recognizable brand of Polish design and for many foreign readers remains to this day the only field of Polish visual arts known to them.
– explains Mrowczyk in the introduction.

Naturally, the Polish poster is covered in VeryGraphic, but the publication also includes lesser known achievements of artists in the field of applied graphic design: books, magazines and covers, typography and lettering, information design, identification signs and packaging.

Rozkładówka z książki "VeryGraphic. Polish Designers of the 20th Century", 2015, fot. Kuba Sowiński / IAM
Spread from the book VeryGraphic. Polish Designers of the 20th Century, 2015, photo: Kuba Sowiński / IAM

The publication provides a chronological description of the work of over 60 of the most prominent and interesting Polish designers. It is divided into the three periods which were the most dynamic and productive for the selected artists. The turning points chosen by the editor are the end of World War II and the year 1980, which was marked by the signing of the August Agreements and the birth of Solidarity in Poland.

It was between the years 1900 and 1945 that the first three generations of artists who set the direction of Polish graphic design were born. From 1945 to 1980 design was strongly dependent on the cultural, economic and mostly political circumstances – it was a reflection of the rapid changes taking place in the country. In turn, the years from 1980 to the end of the twentieth century can be considered a time in which Polish design went into decline before being born again.

Leading Polish critics and experts in the field of graphic design were invited to contribute to the publication, including Artur and Magdalena Frankowscy, founders of the Fontarte design studio; Irena Przymus, curator of the Poster and Design Gallery of the National Museum in Poznań; Piotr Rypson, deputy director of the National Museum in Warsaw, visual culture historian and author of the book Against All Odds: Polish Graphic Design 1919-1949; Agata Szydłowska, design historian, founder of the Workshop for Design Criticism, and many others.

Steven Heller, graphic design's most reputed critic, commented that the book was a 'historical treasure':

Below are some examples, but the real impact of the book is the critical mass of designers from the early 20th Century to the latter years. Of course, the avant garde ’20s and the Polish Poster School of the ’60s are covered, but so are some of the experimentalists who do not fit into neat buckets.

The book cover is handpainted with different colours, which makes each copy unique. The publication was designed  by Kuba Sowiński. Its editor is Jacek Mrowczyk – designer, lecturer of the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, co-founder of the quarterly 2 + 3D, author of articles on graphic design and books: A Small Typographical Dictionary (2008) and PGR: Graphic Design in Poland (with Michał Warda, 2010); editor of the anthology To See / To Know: A Selection of Major Texts on Design.

The publication is supported by 2 + 3D, a Polish design magazine, and is available in online and brick-and-mortar bookstores. Potential distributors can contact [email protected] .

Since February 2016, the book has been distributed worldwide and is available on Amazon.

Vinyl records combine visual art with musical mastery - and aficionados take interest in both. Here... Read more about: LP’s Designed in PL

VeryGraphic. Polish Designers of the 20th Century
Book launch: 25th March 2015,
18.00 h, Miłość x SuperSalon club,
ul. Kredytowa 9, Warsaw

Author: TS, transl.: Bozhana Nikolova, March 2015

Tags: verygraphictwentieth-century polish artpolish posterpolish designpolish designerspiotr rypsonagata szydłowska

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