Polish Poster Collections

Polish Poster Collections

The Frank Fox Polish Poster Collection at Drexel University and the Kenneth F. Lewalski Polish Posters Collection, housed in Westphal’s URBN Center at Drexel, together represent one of the largest surveys of Soviet era Polish posters in an institution in the United States. Over the past several years, there have been many opportunities for undergraduates to explore and exhibit this collection.

The Frank Fox Polish Poster Collection at Drexel University

The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University acquired the collection from Mr. Frank Fox, an alumni of the University, in 2007. This collection contains around 2,500 posters and range in date from the 1930’s through the 1990’s. The bulk of the collection dates from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Included are many rare and early posters produced between 1918 & 1940. Approximately 75 Solidarity posters, Wiktor Sadowski posters, WWII and anti-Nazi potters produced outside of Poland, Polish anti-American posters from the 1950s, eight posters by Strarowieyski signed by the artist, posters for Polish Westerns, jazz posters, posters by Alexiun, Gorowski, and other renowned artists.

Kenneth F. Lewalski Polish Posters Collection

In 2009 the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University acquired the Kenneth F. Lewalski Polish Posters Collection. Kenneth Lewalski was an authority on Polish history that taught for many years at Rhode Island College. Many of the Posters were obtained after Lewalski obtained his Ph.D. in 1960 form the University of Chicago, when such posters were available, and before 1990; many were bought during his research trips to Poland.

There are around 140 posters in this collection, which is strong on posters relating to American jazz performers and theater and film productions. Nearly 20% of the collection is the work of Waldemar Swierzy who designed 1500 posters in his lifetime, 26 of which are in this collection. Included in this 26 are his Jazz Greats series, his Beatles portraits, and his imaginative film works. Other artists featured in this collection are Jan Lenica, Franciszek Strarowiejski, Jan Sawka, A. Pagowski, J. Czerniawski, Roman Cieslewicz, Maciej Urbaniec, Stasys Eidrigovicius, Jan Mlodozeniec, and A. Kilmowski.

About the Donors

Kenneth F. Lewalski

Kenneth F. Lewalski

Professor Kenneth F. Lewalski (1925-2006) was born in Detroit, Michigan and lived most of his life in Providence, RI. He held an AB degree from the University of Detroit, and an AM and PH.D in History from the University of Chicago. He also held a Fulbright for research at the Jagielllonian University, Cracow. A Professor of modern European history, he taught at Brown University, MIT, the Beijing Foreign Studies University (Beijing, China), and for many years at Rhode Island College. His publications center on 18th-19th Century Eastern European and French history and include articles on Adam Mickiewicz, Joachim Lelewel, Polish émigrés to France, the 1830’s revolutions, the Solidarity Movement, and related topics.

His research took him often to Poland, Paris, and London, and on those occasions he began and added to his extensive Polish poster collection, as he became increasingly fascinated by the artistic inventiveness and quality of these works of art. He wanted to leave his collection to an academic institution where it would be used by students and others, and where it would enrich materials that institution already held. Drexel has another Polish poster collection, which this one supplements, and the fact that the university planned to digitize this material meant that it would be widely available. Which is why we made our decision to leave the collection to Drexel.

Kenneth Lewalski was married to Barbara K. Lewalski, a Professor of Renaissance English Literature, and he has one son, David Lewalski, an art photographer.