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Collection Themes & Highlights

Polish poster art and design emerged at the end of World War II and reached its height during the Cold War era. This explosion of creativity expressed through the Polish School of poster design has had a lasting and significant impact on the history of twentieth century graphic design. The artists and designers that belonged to the Polish School served as social and political commentators during the Soviet dominated years from 1945 to 1989. The allusions and metaphors in many of the posters they created for films, theater, operas, the Soviet circus, and music often made implicit statements on the totalitarian state. Sly and ironic, many Polish posters passed through the official state censors and to colorfully express public discontent on the streets of Warsaw, Krakow and other cities across Poland.

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 through the STAR program and independent study.

—Mark Willie, Teaching Professor & Associate Program Director, Graphic Design, Westphal College and Steward of the Polish Poster Collections at Drexel