The Artist Whose Graphic Design Changed History
Reception December 10, 2011 6-8pm
There is no better example of the art of protest and political change than the now iconic logo Jerzy Janiszewski created for the Solidarity trade union movement in 1980.. Janiszewski’s graphic design --- with its original typeface, blood-red letters and the Polish flag emerging out of the letter “N” (for nation) --- was both visually powerful and inspirational, quickly becoming a generic symbol of freedom and democracy recognized throughout the world.
Among the 25 works on display in this first retrospective of Janiszewski’s work will be the very first imprint of the logo, signed by Solidarity’s leader, Lech Walesa. Other hand drawn and historic graphic imprints of the logo signed by Janiszewski, never before exhibited, will also be displayed and these will be offered for sale.
Their importance has been recognized by art historians and museum curators; the logo has been acquired for the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Musee d’histoire contemporaine in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Writing in MoMA INSIDE/OUT (Oct. 15, 2010), Pamela Popeson of MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, said of the logo “This is art, not just great graphic design.”
While Janiszewski's graphic work is well known and highly prized, he has never before shown the one-of-a-kind collages and mixed media paintings he has been creating since he was forced to leave Poland in 1982 after the country's communist government banned Solidarity in an ultimately futile attempt to remain in control.
That work, much of it using scraps of paper from cigarette packaging and even Paris metro ticket stubs because they were the only materials he could afford at the time, has neverbeen exhibited or seen in public until now. The early collages are abstract while the more recent work is minimalist in style. Yet all of it is personal, absolutely original and strikingly beautiful---the work of a major contemporary artist whose fine art will soon be as recognized and coveted for its impact, creativity and importance as the graphic art which has already earned Jerzy Janiszewski a place among the great graphic artists of his time.