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Curiouser and Curiouser - Avant-Garde Polish Theatre Posters from the 1970s

Friday, August 15, 2014,

  • Location: Cohen Memorial Hall • 1220 21St Ave S • Nashville, TN 37212
  • Room: Fine Arts Gallery

 Jan Sawka, Polish, 1946–2012

Teatr im. Jana Kochanowskiego w Opolu, 1975–6
Offset lithograph 32-3/4” x 23”
Gift of Don Evans,
Professor of Fine Arts, Emeritus
© Jan Sawka Estate, www.jansawka.com

Curiouser and Curiouser—Avant-Garde Polish Theatre Posters from the 1970s

June 19-August 28, 2014 (Please note that the Gallery will be closed July 4-7, 2014 for Independence Day)

Gallery Hours, June 19 - August 19:

Tuesday - Friday 12 - 4 pm

Saturday 1 - 5 pm

Closed Sunday and Monday

Gallery Hours, August 20 - 28:

Monday - Friday 11 am - 4 pm

Saturday and Sunday 1 - 5 pm

Presented in honor of the late Don Evans, who for much of his professional career taught art at Vanderbilt University, Curiouser and Curiouser—Avant-Garde Polish Theatre Posters from the 1970s features a selection of posters given by Evans from a particularly rich period of Eastern European graphic art design. Some artists went on to receive significant notoriety for their work; Jan Sawka’s theatrical posters provoked the Polish government to expel him in 1979. Many of the posters reflect an aesthetic begun in the 1960s under the influence of Pop art and experimental theatre of the period. These posters, as well as those from the 1960s, influenced a wide range of creative figures, including the Quay Brothers whose films were recently featured in a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in which several similar posters from the period served as a context for their innovative work.

As a part of the exhibition, the Fine Arts Gallery will screen within the Gallery Freedom on the Fence, a 2009 documentary about the history of Polish posters, from WWII through the fall of Communism. The film details the evolution of this art form by revealing the revolutionary role posters played in the social, political, and cultural life of Poland. Freedom on the Fence spotlights several Polish poster artists, including Roman Cieślewicz and Franciszek Starowieyski, both of whom are featured in Curiouser and Curiouser.

The film fuses contemporary footage of Warsaw and Krakow with remarkable archival footage (from the Polish National Film Archive) of posters on the streets and artists at work, to provide context and demonstrate the contribution the art form made to the culture. Freedom on the Fence has been screened at many film festivals including the San Diego Jewish Film Festival, the Napa Film Festival and the Santa Fe Film Festival. In 2009, The Museum of Modern Art showed the film as part of a 6-month show on Polish Posters. It is now in the permanent collection of MoMA.

Curiouser and Curiouser—Avant-Garde Polish Theatre Posters from the 1970s is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph S. Mella, director.