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Threepenny Posters

July 30, 2012

The College and our Graphic Design program are home to a collection of thousands of outstanding examples of 20th century Polish poster art. The Leonard Pearlstein Gallery is presenting a selection of these posters devoted to Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's 1928 musical The Threepenny Opera in the current exhibit Brecht in Poland: Poster Designs for The Threepenny Opera 1979 – 1990. The exhibition will be open until Friday, July 27th in the Pearlstein Gallery (Nesbitt Hall, 3215 Market St.). Graphic Design junior Kristen Beck curated the exhibition with assistance from Graphic Design Professor Mark Willie. As a Drexel Star Student, Kristen helped to create an index of the College’s Polish Poster Collection during the summer of her freshmen year. The exhibit grew from a two-term independent study with Media Arts Professor and design historian David Raizman.

Within the Westphal College's extensive collection of 20th century Polish posters, Brecht and Weill's 1928 theater epic The Threepenny Opera is a popular subject. This exhibition looks carefully at a series of theater posters meant to advertise performances of The Threepenny Opera and focuses on themes that impacted artists’ approach to the poster designs, including attention to the characters, plot, and score, the popularity of the national theatre in Poland, and the role of censorship during decades of Soviet occupation. The information presented represents an extensive amount of research, including correspondence with the actual designers.

The installation features a select series of Threepenny Opera theater posters and a broader series of reference posters designed by some of Poland's most prolific poster designers such as Andrzej Pagowski and Wiktor Sadowski. This exhibit would not be possible without Professor Frank Fox of West Chester University and Barbara Lewalski, wife of the late Dr. Kenneth F. Lewalski, whose invaluable donations helped to create what is now the Polish Poster Collection of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. Click here for more information.