Graphic designer, painter, illustrator, scenographer, interior architect, and a designer of advertisements, posters, and post stamps, active in Warsaw and Paris.
In 1917-1925, he studied at the Faculty of Architecture of the Warsaw University of Technology, under Edmund Bartłomiejczyk and Edward Wittig. He went on to study painting at the Paris-based École Supérieur des Beaux-Arts. While in Paris, he befriended Mojżesz Kisling and Roman Kramsztyk. He worked as a visual designer for Pro Arte et Studio (starting 1916), Skamander (starting 1920), and Życie Literackie (starting 1924), and as an illustrator for the high-life magazines Pani, Reklama, Teatr i Życie Wytworne, and Arkady. He also worked as a visual artist for publishers, including Ignis, Towarzystwo Wydawnicze Rój, Nasza Księgarnia, Biblioteka Groszowa, and Biblioteka Polska. He was widely recognised as the designer of advertisements for numerous companies, including Wedel, Orbis, Herse, and Schicht. In 1929, Gronowski designed the logo for the LOT Polish Airlines, which has been used to this day. The artist also worked on post stamp design. In 1923, he joined the ‘Rhythm’ Association of Polish Artists. In 1928, he participated in the polychrome work on the Old Town tenement houses in Warsaw. In 1918-1939, he was the artistic manager at the Wierzbicki Printing House, and in 1930-1935, at the Koźmiński Brothers Printing House. He also cooperated with Władysław Główczewski’s Artistic Lithography Workshop. Together with A. Borman, J. Gelbard, J. Mucharski, he opened the artistic advertising studio Plakat. In 1933, he co-founded the Commercial Graphic Artists' Circle. He was also a member of the Association of Polish Artists and Designers, where he co-edited the Association’s magazine, Grafika.
Gronowski participated in many exhibitions in Poland and abroad, winning, among others, the Grand Prix at the The International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris in 1925. In 1929, he was awarded the gold medal for his contribution to the architectural and decorative design of the Polish General Exhibition. In 1935, he received the Commander’s cross of the Order of Leopold II for the design of the Polish pavilion at the International Exhibition of Contemporary Art in Brussels. In 1937, he was awarded the gold medal for costume and decorative design, as well as a silver one for posters at the International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life in Paris. In 1939, he received a gold medal for the design of the Polish pavilion at the World Expo in New York. He had solo exhibitions at the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Warsaw in 1934, and the Art Propaganda Institute in 1938. Gronowski spent the years 1924-1939 in Paris, where in 1929 he opened a design studio, working as a decorator for the high-end stores Galleries Lafayette, Au Printemps, Au Louvre, and Trois Quartiers.
Gronowski was among the most distinguished applied visual artists, book illustrators and poster artists. He worked as a scenographer for the National Theatre (1923-1930), L. Schiller’s Reduta, and A. Szyfman’s Polski Theatre (1919-1930). His advertisement posters are a prime example of art deco, and are characterised by a synthetic treatment of the forms, organised by compositional rhythms, and the use of intense monochromatic areas outlined by intricate drawing (see the Fifth Eastern Fair, as well as the first exhibition of the Polish Committee on Agricultural Exhibitions in 1924). The innovative character of Gronowski’s visual choices consisted in a harmonious integration of lettering into the composition as an independent visual asset. The poster formula, devised by Gronowski, involving a concise sign, treated as an equivalent of objects and phenomena of the surrounding reality. The content was summarised by the witty slogan (‘Radion does the laundry for you’, 1926). In 1928, the artist introduced the powdering technique, using an aerograph allowing for a subtle modulation of colours.
tadeusz lucjan gronowski
lot polish airlines
In his paintings in the late 1950s, Gronowski drew from the aesthetics of cubism, limited the colour spectrum to grays and browns, and boldly used synthetic forms. In a series of tempera-on-paper paintings produced in the late 1960s, he combined the youthful painterly explorations with his experiences as a poster artist, which resulted in abstract, geometric forms with a dynamic composition and a diversified texture (formed by the alternating rhythms of two parallel lines). He emphasised the relations between the figures in the foreground and the background and stressed the interplay between the meandering line and the layout of colours. Gronowski’s figurative paintings often featured the naked female body, turned into geometric shapes, manneristically out of proportions, with soft modelling and no depth or details. The artist put the figures against an abstract background created by geometric figures and rhythmic layouts.
Originally written by Irena Kossowska (Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences), March 2010. Translated by AM, March 2017.