Research: graphic artist Roman Cieślewicz

Roman Cieślewicz Portrait

Roman Cieślewicz (born 1930 13 January in Lwów Poland, now Lviv Ukraine – died 1996 21 January in Paris France) was a Polish (naturalized French) graphic artist and photographer.

From 1943 to 1946 he attended the School of Artistic Industry Lvov and from 1947 to 1949 attended the Kraków’s Fine Arts Lycee. He studied at Kraków’s Fine Arts Academy (ASP) from 1949 to 1955. He was artistic editor of “Ty i Ja” monthly in Warsaw 1959-1962 . In 1963 he moved to France and naturalized in 1971. He worked as art director of Vogue, Elle (1965-1969) and Mafia – advertising agency (1969-1972) and was artistic creator of Opus International (1967-1969). Kitsch (1970-1971) and Cnac-archives (1971-11974). Taught at the Ecole Superieure d’Arts Graphiques (ESAG) in Paris. In 1976 he produced his “reviev of panic information” – “Kamikaze”/No. 1/ published by Christian Bourgois. In 1991 he produced “Kamikaze 2” with Agnes B. He took part in numerous group exhibitions of graphic, poster and photographic art and was a member of AGI. 


 

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Roman Cieslewicz was one of the most influential graphic design artists of the 20th century. Living on the very cusp of the computer age he was happier with scissors and glue than new technology. The Royal College of Art in London hosted a major retrospective exhibition of his work in 2010. BBC’s report is by David Hannah: www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-10698599

 


 

eye logoSummer 1993 |  Reputations: Roman Cieslewicz

‘Posters are dying out. They need strong themes, which at present they lack. As a form of communication, they belong to another age
Interview with Roman Cieślewicz by Margo Rouard-Snowman  

 

 


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 MoMA has 11 of Cieślewicz’ posters in their collection.
Polish Posters 1945–89

CRI_5132During the political Thaw after 1956, Polish Communist authorities turned their attention from heavy industry to the promotion of consumer goods as a means of earning hard currency from the West. Cieslewicz pays homage here to the surreal fashions popularized by Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli. In 1963 Cieslewicz moved to Paris and became immersed in avant-garde art and fashion, winning international acclaim for his innovative art direction of Elle and Vogue magazines.

CRI_198971This disquieting image of a figure constrained within an armored shell and suffocating from an eruption of flames and blood synthesizes Luigi Dallapiccola’s nightmarish operatic tale. In it a Spanish prisoner thinks he has escaped punishment only to find himself in the arms of the Grand Inquisitor and led to a burning stake. Both poster and opera conveyed the pessimism and sense of deception and entrapment prevalent in Cold War Europe.

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“It was my dream to make public pictures that could be seen by as many people as possible,” Cieślewicz said. “Hence the top importance of the poster—the street picture.” At a time when the dictates of Socialist Realism conventionalized the human figure and required a relentlessly optimistic image of the future, posters for theater and film were able to adopt a more abstract and psychological approach.
CRI_212211A keen sense of the absurd and the macabre drew Polish audiences to such writers as Franz Kafka, Harold Pinter, and Friedrich Dürrenmatt. This poster was commissioned and printed for a Warsaw dramatization of Kafka’s novel and was also subsequently printed and circulated in Paris, where the designer had moved in 1963. “I wanted to leave Poland to see how my posters would stand up to the neon lights of the West,” he explained in 1993. “I dreamed of Paris.”


Le_Monde_logo copyHommage à Roman Cieslewicz | 1930-1996 

 


 

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Roman Cieślewicz book cover

 

Roman Cieślewicz
by Margo Rouard-Snowman, Thames and Hudson 1993

 

 

 

 

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27 thoughts on “Research: graphic artist Roman Cieślewicz”

  1. I admire of his outstanding perspective of scale in his posters and collages. He collaged various source, such as mixing traditional paintings and modern magazine imageries with unusual scale. The collage is recognizable that it is collage, but it carries the sense of reality due to his ability of scale relationship between elements in design. Also unusual scale grabs my attention ideally.
    His saying in the interview gave me some idea about type in poster. I’ve not ever thought how the type looks big. It is ordinary to have text with large size in poster to show it big, yet I think he meant the detail of typeface and the relationship between type and other elements in poster how optically and visually type is enhanced to look bigger.

  2. As I was observing his work on this post and others posted online I noticed his unusual combinations always carried a message behind them. His technique is somewhat unorganized but structured at the same time. A hard combination to perfect. Which makes for great pieces that leave an imprint. A personal favorite piece by Roman would have to be one of the covers he designed for the graphic design magazine Gebauchsgraphik

  3. The BBC video and the interview both indicate that he very much liked the idea of mass production. On the other hand, he was in favor of working with just glue and scissors. I feel there is some contradiction here. Usually ‘handmade’ works are meant to be more exclusive and limited, while machine made items are meant for mass production.

    What also caught my attention was Professor Andrej Klimowski’s reference to the idea of ‘visual journalism’. He explains that graphic designers are kind of visual journalists who aim to articulate clear ideas through the juxtaposition of imagery and layout. I do like the usage of the term journalist since a Graphic designer needs to have complete context of their subject and in turn do a lot of research.

  4. Roman Cislewicz is a genius! I am amazed with his work, specially after knowing that he just used scissors and glue for its posters. He had a great ability to translate the culture and social movements in which he was immersed on his works, as well as a great art and design knowledge.

    Another thing that amazed and inspired me is how we have to open your eyes for what surround us, even a simple bread that his mother used to make him to buy every day when he was a kid. The smell was something so powerful to him that he could feel and remembered through his life, and also its round format had a huge influence on his work. Art is an expressions of the artists’ feelings, senses, and believes, and Cieslewicz was a great expressionist of that.

    I also found incredibly interesting images of his work on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/gabrielaaffonse/. I also found on Moma’s website, as I unfortunately couldn’t go to see them, all of his posters that are been exhibited there http://www.moma.org/collection/artist.php?artist_id=1125 .

  5. After viewing Cieslewicz’s work in class, I was immediately inspired. After reading this interview, I am in awe. The fact that Cieslewicz stayed away from modern technologies and used scissors and glue is incredible. His combination of renaissance and contemporary work that helped translate the current social movements consists of so much precision and composition for hand made. I admire his statement that he found the “many imperfections of the hand made version pleasing,” as I find human imperfections fascinating. This interview was definitely inspiring, showing that even though he never considered himself as a painter, there were still other visual masterpieces his hands could create.

  6. From a historical perspective, what intrigues me about Roman Cieslewicz is that he was able to form an acceptable medium by which he was able to bridge the Eastern bloc and the West, in a time when there was very little civilian interaction between the two spheres of influence. It was through his posters, by using his Polish design background to communicate effectively within the Western scope, that the people of the West were really able to see the Eastern bloc in a different light. This was perhaps starkly different from the way Western media portrayed these countries, its people, and its art, at the time. In the BBC documentary, Professor Andrzej Klimowski says that an effective graphic designer “[articulates] clear ideas through the juxtaposition of clear imagery and layout”. Given what I have said above, what immediately struck me upon hearing the word “juxtaposition” was that perhaps the reason why Cieslewicz was so good at his craft was because he brought on an added layer of juxtaposition, having grown up in Poland but moving to France later in life. This, combined with his immense skill for creating a clear, concise design (especially without the use of a computer), likely adds to the overall appeal and effectiveness of his posters.

  7. As I scroll through his work, these two images from Vogue Paris, February 1966 keep jumping out at me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been working on the self-portrait poster, but there is something beautifully counterintuitive about these particular images. They are striking on their own, but in the context of Vogue magazine they take on an entirely different persona — such a far cry from what you would expect to see in a high fashion publication, even in 1966. While he has effectively disfigured the model’s face in the first image, there is nothing grotesque about it. In fact, I find myself drawn to the features (eyes, lips) that are isolated in the circles. Visually stunning.

    http://amyarmani.com/post/96595680653/vogue-paris-february-1966-roman-cieslewicz

  8. As I scroll through his work, these two images from Vogue Paris, February 1966 keep jumping out at me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been working on the self-portrait poster, but there is something beautifully counterintuitive about these particular images. They are striking on their own, but in the context of Vogue magazine they take on an entirely different persona — such a far cry from what you would expect to see in a high fashion publication, even in 1966. While he has effectively disfigured the model’s face in the first image, there is nothing grotesque about it. In fact, I find myself drawn to the features (eyes, lips) that are isolated in the circles. Visually stunning!

    http://amyarmani.com/post/96595680653/vogue-paris-february-1966-roman-cieslewicz

  9. I agree with Radhika in that it is quite contradicting for an artist who practices such a hands on approach to embrace mass production, although there is something hauntingly beautiful about an artist being able to appreciate the sometimes transient nature of art. His juxtaposition of the historical and the contemporary is fascinating, in particular, the de-constructing and re-compositioning of one of the most renowned pieces of art – the Mona Lisa, in a completely unparalleled manner.

  10. His use of repetition along side scale is beautiful. You can see the care and craft he puts into each work. It would be easy to mistake his handmade collages with ones made on photoshop.
    I always tend to go from sketching to the computer without any in between process. I like what he talks about with placing objects by hand and stepping away from the computer process. Reading his interview and seeing his work inspires me to try more hand drawn aspects of my work. Definitely something to explore.

  11. This reading about Roman Cieślewicz has been extremely eye opening for me. As a new AAS Graphic Design student, I am beginning to see now how all of our courses are inter-related and am starting to understand why it is so important to step away from the computer. For three of the classes I am in now (Typography, Graphic Design 1, and Process & Skills) my professors have challenged us to use the photocopier, cutting and pasting, collage, etc.. to explore graphic design concepts. In this age of technology, we are so accustomed to using the computer for everything and assume that the computer is superior. However, Roman Cieślewicz’s images clearly show how NOT using the computer can create equally as striking images, with even more impact than digitally produced ones. The juxtapositions he creates in his work have struck a sense of curiosity for me about how I can make bold statements with my work and how this could later be transferred and altered into digital formats.

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