Following the release of Out of the Ordinary, Culture.pl 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, the first complete work devoted to 20th-century Polish graphic design, was released on 25th March 2015.
VeryGraphic: Polish Designers of the 20th Century, published by Culture.pl and edited by Jacek Mrowczyk, is a compilation of information on contemporary graphic design, one unprecedented in scope. Together with Out of the Ordinary, the two publications constitute a unique compendium of knowledge on 20th-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.
As Mrowczyk explains in the introduction:
The poster is the most recognizable brand of Polish design, and for many foreign readers, it remains to this day the only field of Polish visual arts known to them.
Naturally, the Polish poster is covered in VeryGraphic, but the publication also includes lesser-known achievements by artists in the field of applied graphic design: books, magazines and covers, as well as typography and lettering, information design, identification signs, and packaging.
standardowy [760 px]
Spread from the book ‘VeryGraphic: Polish Designers of the 20th Century’, 2015, photo: Kuba Sowiński / AMI
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 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 20th entury 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, a design historian and the founder of the Workshop for Design Criticism; and many others.
Leading Polish critics and experts in the field of graphic design were invited to contribute to the VeryGraphic, including Artur and Magdalena Frankowscy, the founders of the Fontarte design studio; Irena Przymus, the curator of the Poster and Design Gallery of the National Museum in Poznań; Piotr Rypson, the deputy director of the National Museum in Warsaw, a visual-culture historian and the author of the book Against All Odds: Polish Graphic Design 1919-1949; and Agata Szydłowska, a design historian and the founder of the Workshop for Design Criticism, as well as many others.
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 of the 1920s and the Polish Poster School of the 1960s are covered, but so are some of the experimentalists who do not fit into neat categories.
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 hand-painted with different colours, which makes each copy unique. The publication was designed by Kuba Sowiński. Its editor is Jacek Mrowczyk – a designer, lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, co-founder of the quarterly 2 + 3D and the author of articles on graphic design, as well as the books A Small Typographical Dictionary (2008) and PGR: Graphic Design in Poland (with Michał Warda, 2010). He is also the 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 may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since February 2016, the book has been distributed worldwide and is available on Amazon.
Written by TS; trans. Bozhana Nikolova, Mar 2015
twentieth-century polish art
VeryGraphic: Polish Designers of the 20th Century
Book launch: 25th March 2015
18.00, Miłość x SuperSalon club
ul. Kredytowa 9, Warsaw