From 3rd May to 23rd September 2018, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris pays tribute to Polish artist Roman Cieślewicz. The Roman Cieślewicz: La Fabrique des Images exhibition will present the artistic genius of this major figure of the Polish Poster School.
Roman Cieślewicz’s eclectic oeuvre spanned a variety of graphic expressions ranging from posters and advertising to photomontage, publishing and illustration. His images scrutinise the world, are its reflection and testimony, and reveal the singularity of an artist and politically committed personality. Roman Cieślewicz saw his role as a graphic designer in direct confrontation with current events.
At the Roman Cieślewicz: La Fabrique des Images exhibition, more than 700 exhibits chronologically and thematically illustrate the prolific and exceptional woek of one of the greatest graphic designers of the 20th century, who still continues to influences graphic designers today.
Born in Lviv, Roman Cieślewicz completed his artistic training at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1955. He became a major figure of the Polish Poster School, the artists who revitalized the medium and its role in the 1950s, and whose fame and influence spread internationally. But due tp the complex political situation and his ambitions to conquer the West, Cieślewicz decided to leave Poland.
He arrived in Paris in 1963. Hired by Peter Knapp as a layout artist, he contributed to Elle magazine and soon became its artistic director. In 1967, he took part in the creation of a new art magazine, Opus International, defining its graphic image. He also worked for Vogue, the publishing house 10/18 and Jacques-Louis Delpal. He was the first artistic director of the MAFIA agency.
Although he soon abandoned the visual aesthetics and techniques he used in Poland to explore photomontage, he kept the idea that the role of the poster and graphic design is to educate the public both intellectually and aesthetically and should ‘depollute the eye’.
Alongside his commissions, he continued what he called his ‘studio’ production, largely consisting of series of collages and photomontages, creating the ‘repetitive collages’ and ‘centered collages’ that led to other remarkable series such as the Change of Climate and No News is Good News. A member of the Panique group, founded in 1960 by Arrabal, Topor, Jodorowski and Olivier O. Olivier, Cieślewicz created Kamikaze, Panique’s news review, in 1976.
Roman Cieślewicz had his first major exhibition in France at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in 1972. In 1993, the Centre Georges Pompidou paid tribute to the artist with a comprehensive retrospective, followed by the Musée de Grenoble in 2001. Even though these major museums have already celebrated his work, the exhibition at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, for the first time, analyses Roman Cieslewicz’s creative process by showing documents from his archives, namely the raw material he used to create his work and a collection that mirrored the man he was.
Taking us on a chronological journey through his work and focusing on themes dear to Cieślewicz such as the eye, the hand, the circle, Che Guevara, the Mona Lisa, the exhibition reveals the workings of Cieślewicz’s ‘image factory’. From room to room, we are plunged into the rich world of Cieślewicz’s’s graphic creation, evoked by posters, advertisements, magazine covers, videos and a recreation of his studio giving us an intimate and passionate insight into the artist’s image-making processes. They are also a man’s vision of his time: by using media and advertising imagery, the celebrities of the period and artistic icons to comment on contemporary events, he developed a critical view of the world and revealed another truth.
Roman Cieślewicz, CCCP & USA, Opus International magazine no. 4, 1967, © Adagp, Paris 2018, photo: Paris, MAD Jean Tholance
Roman Cieślewicz, "Superman", projekt okładki magazynu Opus, 1968, fot. materiały prasowe
The exhibition’s comprehensive catalogue introduces us to the artist’s daily work process. In the form of an ABCs book, it features texts by contemporaries who knew Cieślewicz and is abundantly illustrated with images from the artist’s own archives. The Musée des Arts Decoratifs, which has one of the richest and oldest graphic design collections in France, again pays tribute to Roman Cieślewicz with this ambitious and comprehensive retrospective.
Curator: Amelie Gastaut, curator of the Graphic Design/Advertising Collection, Musée des Arts Décoratifs
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
polish poster school
polish graphic design
The project is organised in collaboration with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of POLSKA 100, the international cultural programme accompanying the centenary of Poland regaining independence. Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multiannual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017–2021.