Western Amerykanski: Polish Poster Art and the Western

Western Amerykanski: Polish Poster Art and the Western

by Kevin Mulroy
     
 

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The figure of Gary Cooper as the proud frontier sheriff striding down the street in the 1952 American Western High Noon is as much a symbol of dignity and courage in contemporary Poland as it is in the United States. In 1989, for Poland’s first free election since the Communist takeover, the political party Solidarity dramatically and successfully used that

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Overview

The figure of Gary Cooper as the proud frontier sheriff striding down the street in the 1952 American Western High Noon is as much a symbol of dignity and courage in contemporary Poland as it is in the United States. In 1989, for Poland’s first free election since the Communist takeover, the political party Solidarity dramatically and successfully used that image of Cooper on a campaign poster urging voters to respond to their country’s own "high noon"—their critical moment of decision.

The Western motion picture, from its silent days on, exported an epic vision of America. William S. Hart, John Wayne, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, Clint Eastwood, and Kirk Douglas became legendary heroes throughout the world, and especially in Poland.

In postwar Poland, film poster artists employed the universally recognized symbols of the Western—horse, six-shooter, boots, tin-star badge, Stetson, saddle—to convey violence as a negative force. Unlike many other art forms, the film poster did not fall within the censor’s domain because it was not expected to pose a threat to the social order. But messages were conveyed through subtle means of symbol and color. The Polish poster has been likened to the Trojan horse, with the artist smuggling messages onto the streets in the guise of ephemera.

The posters displayed so strikingly in this book, and discussed in three essays, are from the golden age of Polish poster-making, the mid-1940s to the 1970s. They are part of the collection assembled by the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, the Western poster holdings of which include more than a hundred created in Poland—the largest such collection outside of Poland itself.

University of Washington Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
An important contribution to understanding how mythic imagination influences popular culture; in this case, how the American Western was perceived and exploited by Polish artists following WWII..The book is a scholarly examination of an esoteric subject but, unlike so many academic works, its essays and illustrations, like the Wild West itself, have universal appeal.

Booknews
Published in conjunction with the 1999 exhibition of the same title at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles. Includes color reproductions of 159 posters together with three essays: the Western worldwide, Poland and the American West, and the American Western and the Polish Poster School. The volume concludes with biographies of the artists. Mulroy is director of the research center at the Autry Museum. Oversize: 9x12<">. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780295978130
Publisher:
University of Washington Press
Publication date:
11/01/1999
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 12.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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