Roman Cieslewicz, the renowned graphic artist born in 1930 in Lvov, Poland, remains one of the most famous poster designers of the Polish school.
After graduating in 1955 he was taken on by a propaganda agency in Warsaw. Wag produced posters for political, social and cultural events nationwide – popular festivals, safety notices, circus announcements and theatre shows. Cieslewicz produced superb posters for the theatre of Kracow.
Cieslewicz created his own technique and language, which he applied to posters, publications, photomontages and illustration. His graphic ideas are expressed in a haunting and incisive style. His output is prolific, his approach disturbingly free, with accidental elements permitted to challenge the typographical order. By using photography, collage, screenprinting, typography and other media, he created a new vocabulary of graphic expression.
He and his colleagues Julian Palka, Waldemar Swierzy, Jan Lenica, Henryk Tomaszewski and others made more than 200 Polish film posters a year.
Cieslewicz moved to Paris in 1963 to further his career. He introduced the Polish poster to the country, unleashing all those influences which continue even now to determine French poster design, particularly in the political, social and cultural fields. He was at the heart of artistic life in both cities, warsaw and Paris.
He has worked for several press and publishing houses, including Elle, Vogue, Opus International and Kitsch and various cultural organisations, such as the Festival d’Automne, the Pompidou Centre and the Musee Picasso.
“What I find attractive are the icons of the street, current affairs, news items. I also like those nineteenth-century engravings with their long-winded, anecdotal texts, and torn posters, for example. The war taught us a lasting lesson: whatever the current graphic trends, it seems that serious situations give rise to an incredible number of posters.”
Throughout his career Cieslewicz received many medals and honours and his works were exhibited in galleries and museums all over the world. In 1995, one year before his death, the Georges Pompidou Centre dedicated an important retrospective to him.