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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » August 13, 2008
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Pick of Polish Posters on Parade
August 13, 2008   
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The Wilanów Poster Museum in Warsaw is taking its collections outdoors this summer, preparing to open the Sen o Warszawie (A Dream About Warsaw) poster exhibition in Łazienki Park Aug. 23. There will be a fair to accompany the opening of the exhibition, borrowing from a prewar tradition to offer visitors treats such as cotton candy and traditional Varsovian snacks such as pańska skórka (The Lord's Skin), a type of homemade candy.

Some of the finest pieces of the museum's broad collection will be on display, including masterpieces by Polish poster art luminaries such as Roman Cie¶lewicz (1930-1996) and Jan Lenica (1928-2001). There will also be posters from the interwar years (1919-1939), examples of socialist realism, a style that used idealized realistic images as a communist propaganda tool, and works by some of Poland's best contemporary graphic artists. Some of the exhibits date back to the 1795-1918 period when the eastern part of the country was controlled by Russia.

"Tracking the iconography of Warsaw through its posters, which go right back to the days when they were written in Cyrillic characters and wend their way through to the present, leaves us with an overwhelming impression of the capital's icons having long served as its visual identity," says curator Agata Szydłowska. "The durability and consistency we see here are astonishing."

Warsaw's mermaid symbol is a recurring and enduring motif. We first see her on posters from 1911 announcing an "Old Warsaw" exhibition and she has been an irrepressible figure ever since, featuring prominently in cultural, political and tourist posters.

Rebuilding Warsaw's Old Town district, which was completely destroyed during World War II, is a common postwar theme. For all that, though, visitors and locals alike will probably tell you that the Stalinist-era Palace of Culture and Science is the definitive icon of Warsaw.

A Dream About Warsaw, Łazienki Park, Ujazdowskie Avenue entrance
Exhibition open until the end of Sept.

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