Jazz in Poland: Posters from the Rosenberg Collection

July 12 – September 8

/ 2002

This exhibition celebrates not only the graphic brilliance of posters made in Poland in recent decades, but also the strong Polish affinity for jazz, an American art form so thoroughly assimilated that musicians can be counted by generations. Posters of all kinds-promoting events, merchandise, political issues, travel-became common in the mid-nineteenth century, when advances in printing technology allowed a large format and the use of color. But in Poland after World War II posters developed in distinctive and unexpected ways. Playful in visual content and groundbreaking in graphic design, they give little hint of the turbulent political and economic changes that repeatedly reshaped Polish society. Yet the uniqueness of these images derives in large measure from the extraordinary historical circumstances in which they developed. Shielded from the influence of advertising in capitalist markets, isolated from art movements in Western Europe and North America, and adept at the use of obliqueness, ambiguity, and wit, Polish artists developed a sophisticated approach to graphic design that is admired and appropriated throughout the world. Martin and Patricia Rosenberg, whose collection of Polish graphic design is internationally known, have lent the posters included in the exhibition. Their past gifts of historic Polish posters to the University’s art collection have provided an important foundation for the study of graphic design. We are grateful for their generosity in lending material and expertise so freely.