ROMAN CIEŚLEWICZ COLLAGES 1961 – 1972
Roman Cieślewicz is considered by world critics to be one of the most prominent graphic designers of the second half of the twentieth century.
He was born in 1930 in Lviv, where at the end of the war he enrolled in the School of Artistic Industry. After the war, he continued his education at the High School of Fine Arts in Krakow. In 1945-49, he studied at the Poster Faculty at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow.
After graduating, he moved to Warsaw, where he soon began cooperation with film industry, theatres and important publishing houses. He designed posters, exhibition catalogues and books. He was the author of projects for the Centrala Wynajmu Filmów (Film Rental Office), Wydawnictwo Artystyczno-Graficzne (Artistic-Graphic Publishing House) and many literary publications.
His most iconic project of that time was the graphic design of the newly created “Ty i Ja” monthly, of which he was the first director in 1959-62.
The principal technique Cieślewicz used in his projects was photomontage. The artist consciously ennobled this method, referring to the tradition of the interwar avant-garde and works by such outstanding artists as John Heartfield, Hannah Hoch, Aleksander Rodczenko, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and in Poland – Kazimierz Podsadecki, Janusz Maria Brzeski, Mieczysław Szczuka.
Photomontage perfectly integrated art and life, created new cultural contexts, combined photography, graphic techniques and printing. It opened art to a broader audience.
The best example is the graphic design of the aforementioned “Ty i Ja” monthly – aside Cieslewicz, its covers were designed by Henryk Tomaszewski and Waldemar Świerzy; another artist collaborating with the magazine was Tadeusz Rolke.
Another important area of Cieślewicz’s creative activity, in which he used photomontage, was poster design. At the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, he created a series of symmetrical figures, which quickly became his trademark. One of his most famous posters is “Zoom contre la pollution de l’oeil” (Zoom against eye contamination).
These works were created in Paris, where he settled in 1963. He worked for famous magazines such as Vogue, Opus International and Elle, for which he also developed a new graphic design. In 1965-69 he was also the artistic director of Elle.
From the beginning of his stay in Paris, he also collaborated with Paris museums. For Centre Pompidou, he created catalogue designs, posters and visual identification for a series of international exhibitions: Paris-Moscow, Paris-Berlin, Presences Polonaises.
Roman Cieślewicz’s designs are a uniquely coherent combination of the verbal and the visual, forming a quintessence of the activity of an outstanding artist with a powerful intellectual background.
In 1994, he was the only graphic designer to have a retrospective exhibition at the Centre Pompidou.
He died in Paris in 1996.
In an interview with the art critic Wiesława Wierzchowska, the artist spoke of his place in art: “My dream was to make public paintings so that as many people as possible could see them. Therefore, the poster – as a street picture – has been the most important for me. /…. / I have never imagined an image independent from the content. I always strive for a maximum image and maximum information. You have to affect maximum imagination.
The artist’s works are in the collections of institutions such as:
Museum of Modern Art, Nowy York
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Centre Pompidou, Paryż
Muzeum Plakatu w Wilanowie, Warszawa
Muzeum Narodowe, Poznań
Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź
The works presented at the exhibition are from the Signum Foundation’s collection.
Łukasz Korwin’s film Roman Cieślewicz (1994) has been loaned from the TVP archive.
Signum Foundation Gallery, ul. Piotrkowska 85, Łódź