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Polish Posters
from the Collection of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York

Curated by Marek Bartelik

Sunday, January 22, 2012 - Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Gallery of Contemporary Art
at the Sacred Heart University

5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield, CT
Tel: 203.365.7650
Hours: Mon-Tue 12-5pm, Sun 12-4pm

Due to the exceptional accomplishments of a small group of charismatic artists that included Tadeusz Gronowski, Eryk Lipinski, Henryk Tomaszewski and Tadeusz Trepkowski, poster art gained a prominent position among artistic expressions in Poland under Communism, despite the challenge to it from artists who aspired to embrace high values in art and opposed traditional representation associated with posters. For those opponents, the poster was neither too political nor political enough. In reality, because of its status as "street art," posters did not have to communicate covert political messages to be considered "political" by the Polish authorities or public; using such a loophole, many of the best poster artists employed their talents to celebrate, above all, local and international culture and the arts. The medium was the message.- Marek Bartelik, "A Phantasmagoric Polish Poster"

The show VOICES IN THE STREET at the Gallery of Contemporary Art at Sacred Heart University presents thirty-nine posters, created by the most important artists of the so-called "Polish Poster School" of the 1970s and 80s, from the collection of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York. This collection offers an unusual insight into the visual world of Polish street life during this time. Among the works featured are posters by the greatest masters of Polish poster - Eryk Lipinski, Henryk Tomaszewski , Jan Mlodozeniec, Franciszek Starowieyski, Stasys Eldgrigevicus, and others.

The pieces presented in the exhibition functioned as town criers as well as art works, informing the public about cultural events and expressing the unique visual sensibilities of their creators. Their particular status as street art allowed these artists to celebrate local and international culture and the arts in a way that was independent of highly politicized context of Polish reality under Communism. The show, curated by Marek Bartelik, gives the public a taste of the best in Polish poster in all its beauty, poetic sensitivity and humor.

Dr. Marek Bartelik teaches the history of art criticism at MIT. He is the current President of AICA-USA and AICA International (an association of art critics with over 5,000 members in 64 countries). His new book Gentle Rain: Journal of an Art Critic is scheduled to be published in late 2012.

The show is presented by the Polish Studies Fund at Sacred Heart University in cooperation with the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

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