The International Poster Biennale, held in Warsaw, Poland, is the oldest and one of the most respectable and globally recognisable artistic events devoted to the art of poster design.
The International Poster Biennale in Warsaw – THE OLYMPIC GAMES OF THE POSTER!
On 6th June 1966 the building of Zachęta – Central Bureau of Artistic Exhibitions (today the National Gallery of Art) saw the inauguration of the International Poster Biennale in Warsaw. In 1994 the event was transferred to the Poster Museum in Wilanów, which – as a division of the National Museum in Warsaw – organised it till 2016. After that, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage entrusted the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw with the task of organising further editions of the Biennale. Thus in 2018 (the 26th edition) the event returned to the place which provided the driving force for its formation and development, the place where the idea of confronting the global achievements in the art of poster design was originally conceived. The Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw left a highly visible mark on all the editions of the Biennale. It played a role of no small importance in the formation of Polish poster art, as most representatives of the “Polish Poster School” were its professors and graduates, including the animator of the event and its long-term organiser, Professor Józef Mroszczak, or Professor Henryk Tomaszewski, whose name is uniquely intertwined with the event. The relation between the Academy and the Biennale – close and undisturbed – seems only natural.
On 5th June 2021 we open the exhibitions of the Main Competition and the Thematic Competition! We invite you to Warsaw! We invite you to the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw!
The 27th International Poster Biennale in Warsaw consists of the Main Competition, Thematic Competition, and numerous accompanying events. The opening of the post-competition exhibitions is scheduled for 12th June 2021. The accompanying events will be held both during the exhibitions, as well as in the time period leading to them. We begin with the international poster competition for students of fine arts – held under the patronage of Polish National Commission for UNESCO and associated with the Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week, celebrated by UNESCO.
Both Competitions of the Biennale – Main Competition and Thematic Competition – are open. The Main Competition’s themes are unrestricted – it intends to show a panorama of the most relevant problems currently answered by poster artists around the world. The Thematic Competition will cover the topic of “The Changing World and Health” – we want to react to global-scale events and threatening developments as they arise.
Let’s discover something new about ourselves and the world we live in, from the poster designers!
Inauguration of the first International Poster Biennale took place in the Zachęta building – the Central Bureau for Art Exhibitions (today the National Gallery of Art) on June 6th 1966.
Szymon Bojko, a Polish art historian and critic, reported that the inauguration of the first International Poster Biennale was: an event comparable to the swinging opening of a door. An invitation to worlds inaccessible to us. No visas or passports needed. No humiliation due to geopolitical barriers. A sigh of freedom and a pleasant feeling of equality, despite the everyday civilizational poverty felt. Warsaw was host to the leading graphic designers, theoreticians, publishers and print media experts from around the world. Beginning with the United States, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, and ending with the presence of a simply sensational Japan.
The International Poster Biennale’s promoter and long-term organizer (until 1974), was the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts Professor Józef Mroszczak, co-founder of the “Polish school of poster art”. Among the initiators of the Biennale mention must be made of Jerzy Srokowski, Eryk Lipiński, Bohdan Bocianowski and Jan Lenica.
Each successive edition of the International Poster Biennale has attracted whole pilgrimages of poster designers, connoisseurs and fans to Warsaw and the “Poster Olympics” – both before and since 1989, when the Communist era ended and the Iron Curtain separating Europe was torn down. The city was recognized as the world capital of poster art. Let’s remember that the “Polish school of poster art”, which in the mid-1960s reached the height of its recognition and popularity, aroused and still arouses admiration around the world, growing into a legend. It set the standards and constituted the height of artistic success – both for those who aspired to be its continuators, and those who challenged the event with their individuality. It marked out the specific ethos of the contemporary poster. From the very beginning, its organizers have shown they consider the poster a full-fledged medium of originality and an autonomous discipline within graphic design. They also made the International Poster Biennale in Warsaw the most important forum for the exchange of artistic ideas – and so it remains to this day.
The winners of the International Poster Biennale in Warsaw constitute a galaxy of the most prominent representatives of graphic design in the world: André François, Holger Matthies and Henryk Tomaszewski (two-time gold medallists), Andy Warhol, Hiroshi Tanaka, Kazumasa Nagai, Hans Hillmann, Pierre Bernard, Shigeo Fukuda, Ikko Tanaka, Uwe Loesch, Milton Glaser, Paul Davis, Yūsaku Kamekura, Armando Testa, GRAPUS, Gunter Rambow, Tadanori Yokoo, Makoto Saitō, RosemarieTissi, Masuteru Aoba, Shin Matsunaga, Kijuro Yahagi, Ralph Schraivogel, U.G. Sato, Mitsuo Katsui, Andrey Logvin, Alexander Faldin, Jan Lenica, Julian Pałka, Roman Cieślewicz, Mieczysław Wasilewski, Waldemar Świerzy, Jan Sawka, Wiktor Sadowski, Jan Młodożeniec, Franciszek Starowieyski and Wiesław Rosocha.
For the young generation of graphic designers, participation in the International Biennale in Warsaw is synonymous with the opportunity to make a spectacular debut – opening the way to a professional career.
The jury used to be composed of outstanding foreign and Polish artists, above all graphic artists, art and design critics, curators of contemporary art, architects, and directors of art galleries, museums and other cultural institutions – including: Mildred Constantine, Curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Pierre Restany, French art critic and philosopher, Pontus Hultén, Director of the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, Edy de Wilde, Director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Josef Müller-Brockmann and Walter Herdeg, the acclaimed graphic artists and Robert Indiana, the famous “American painter of signs”.