Graphic artist, poster artist, pedagogue. Born on June 3rd,1937 in Dmytrowo (in modern day Ukraine).
Hołdanowicz was a full professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He worked in the fields of graphic design and visual information, creating signs, album covers, book graphics. He was one of the representatives of the so-called Polish School of Posters.
Hołdanowicz went to Konarski Secondary School in Rzeszów. In the years 1953-58, he studied at the Graphic Faculty of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. During a holiday in England in 1957, he became fascinated with screen printing. He decided to put his education on hold to dedicate himself to this technique and introduce it in Poland. Since 1961, he resumed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (at the Painting & Graphic Design faculty) under professors Julian Pałka, Wojciech Zamecznik, and Józef Mroszczak. He received his diploma under Professor Henryk Tomaszewski in 1964. From 1965, he assisted Professor Mroszczak. In 1969, he went on a scholarship to Italy. After his return in 1970, he began teaching students typography and graphic design.
In the years 1974-1984, Hołdanowicz ran a studio of graphic design of elements and visual information systems. At the same time, in the years 1974-1980, he was the dean, and later, in 1987-1990, director of the Graphic Design Cathedral.
Zenon Kowalczyk points out that Hołdanowicz's studio was involved in experiments on computer design, pioneering in Poland at that time:
I trace my memories back to September 1982, when, after my fourth year at the Graphic Design Faculty of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, I was a student intern at the Elements and Systems of Visual Information Graphic Design workshop. Associate Professor Leszek Hołdanowicz (now full professor) drew my attention to something extraordinary. He added a new tool to the traditional set comprised of pencils, ruling pens and brushes – a computer. He made sure that I expand my studies with an entirely new experience – elements of computer graphics.
In 2001 Hołdanowicz took part in Computer as a Material at the Graphics Faculty of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, during which, together with Tadeusz Dominik, Waldemar Świerzy, and Leszek Zbijowski, he presented his methods of working with computers.
He ran a workshop on the basics of graphic design at the Graphics Faculty. This is what he wrote about its aims:
The aim of this didactic programme is to strengthen the abilities to free oneself from familiar schemes of design problem-solving, learn to transform the occurrent structure and to deepen the skills of abstract thinking and asking questions. […] It exercises, strengthens and develops creative design skills such as sensibility, imagination, analytical thinking, curiosity, perseverance, responsibility, awareness, precision, punctuality.
His students learned about issues like series, modules, systems, repeatability, and signs. He was a lecturer worthy of respect, who discerned, with the aid of his famous magnifying glass, the shortcomings in prints and requires numerous corrections, but at the same time he was reminisced of warmly and with reverence.
In 2003, he became the chairperson of the newly established Society of Friends of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.
Leszek Hołdanowicz's contribution to the development of Polish poster cannot be stressed enough. He is named as the artist who broke through the painting tendencies in poster art and directed it towards signs, conciseness and geometry. Hołdanowicz's posters most often touch upon the issues of society, sports and culture. He devoted great attention to issues associated with repetitiveness of elements, rhythms and modules. The multiplication of similar elements is responsible for the tension of the composition (Monument Conservation Days, Rzeszów, May 1962), the musicality of the poster (Chamber Music Days, 1962; 75 Years of Warsaw Philharmonics 1901-1976), and spatiality (3rd Rzeszów Theatre Meetings, 1964) – the very issues that the artist carefully studied during his work with workshop graphics.
The three-dimensionality of Hołdanowicz's posters is based on the play of surfaces, a reversal of the rhythmic elements in relation to the poster's surface (The Tree Decorates and Enriches: Plant, Protect, Cultivate, 1963) and optical illusions (21st International Cycling Peace Race: Berlin-Prague-Warsaw, 1967).
Hołdanowicz paid great attention to situating the typographical sets. The text enhanced the rhythmicity (Requiem for the 500 Thousand), balanced the composition (Warsaw: Ghetto, 1963) or served as its basis (the diagonal and bravely framed, but at the same time powerful and readable Polish Poster of The First Days of Freedom 1945, 1963). The artist also designed vinyl record covers for Muza and Veriton. They reverberate with string, piano, organ, but also entertainment music (40th Anniversary Hits).
His main domain was the sign – used as a part of a bigger composition, a module, but also in the literal, functional sense. He designed logos for – among others – the Office of Art Exhibitions in Rzeszów, Child Art Foundation, German Publishing Institute in Warsaw, Sign-Meaning-Language Symposium, Lion Group Investment Inc., Kultura ’90 Foundation, Polish Foundations Forum, Society of Friends of the National Museum in Warsaw and ZPAP Polish Arts and Crafts (given to the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw).
His awards include the Tadeusz Trepkowski Award (1963), awards at the International Film Poster Competition in Colombo (1965), a gold medal (as a part of a team) at the International Book Expo in Leipzig, awards in the competition for the Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw sign (1986), awards in the competition for a graphic sign for ZPAP Polish Arts and Crafts (1987) and an honourable mention at Tadeusz Kulisiewicz’s 1st International Graphic Arts Triennale in Warsaw (2008).
He was also a multiple medal winner at the Polish Poster Biennale in Katowice (including an honorary lifetime achievement award in 2009) and International Poster Biennale in Warsaw. He was often awarded for his works for Warsaw's Best Poster and Poster of the Month competitions and in the Grafika Warszawska competition.
- Leszek Hołdanowicz. Plakaty, grafikony, varia, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Warsaw 2009
- Leszek Hołdanowicz. Plakaty, Wydawnictwo Polskiej Agencji Ekologicznej S.A. 1995
Written by Sylwia Giżka, Dec 2006, translated by Patryk Grabowski, Jun 2018