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Children’s Book Design and Illustration in Poland, c. 1968

Anita Wincencjusz-Patyna

Résumé

The paper gives an overview of children’s book design and illustration in Poland around the year 1968. Considering the number, variety and quality of books addressed to young readers of this time, one can judge how important this sector of the reading audience was for the policymakers in the times of Polish People’s Republic (1952-1989). The graduates from academies of fine arts (predominantly from Warsaw) were responsible for illustrations and design of the released titles. 1968 seems to be the peak year of the internationally recognized Polish School of Illustration. More than 400 artists were active in the field of book illustration at that time. Among the published books there were many avant-garde and original designs. However, this tendency was already present in Polish graphic design in the 1950s, with a sort of a turning point in 1956. The year 1968 was very important in Polish history and brought some political and social changes, although these were not reflected that much in fine and applied arts. The paper discusses artistic quality of Polish illustration for children published around the year 1968. The short analyses of the relevance of graphic layout and illustrations to the verbal contents of the selected books comprises the main part of the paper.

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1The famous Polish illustrator, Zdzisław Witwicki (b. 1921), was for a long time art director at the biggest and the most important Polish publishing institute of children’s literature in the second half of the 20th century, Nasza Księgarnia [Our Bookshop] located in Warsaw. When I interviewed him in 2003, he mentioned that in a certain year between 1965 and 1969 (he could not remember which one precisely) Nasza Księgarnia released more than 360 titles. This symbolic fact meant that over the course of one whole year, Polish children could read a new book every day, from the presses of just one publisher only! Even if it was not 1968, the number of the books published in that year would certainly have been very similar, as the period in question was one of the most prolific in Nasza Księgarnia’s activity. It is also worth mentioning that Nasza Księgarnia was at that time not alone on the market focused on children’s literature. Another important and influential company that specialised in the offer addressed to young readers was Biuro Wydawnicze “Ruch” [“Ruch” Publishing House], also from Warsaw, and we must not forget the many other publishers who had departments dedicated to children’s and young adults’ literature (Czytelnik, Iskry, Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza, among others – all from the capital city; Wydawnictwo Literackie from Krakow, or Śląsk publishing house from Katowice, and many more).

  • 1 Compare: Elżbieta Jamróz-Stolarska, Serie literackie dla dzieci i młodzieży w Polsce w latach 1945- (...)

2At his time in Poland, books were issued in large (compared to the present) print runs, ranging from 10 000 to 168 000 copies (of each title), with an average print run of 40,000 volumes.1 When we take into consideration the number of titles released for this age group around the year 1968, we get an impressive result, which shows just how important this section of the reading audience was considered to be by the policymakers in the times of Social Realism in the Polish People’s Republic, namely 1952-1989. The people responsible for the literary quality of these books were professionals from various areas of culture. Graduates from the faculties of letters at the Polish universities oversaw the textual content, while the visual content was produced by artists who had graduated from the art academies (predominantly from Warsaw, where the Book Illustration Studio had been run by Jan Marcin Szancer since 1951 at the local Academy of Fine Arts).

  • 2 A lot of other useful statistical data may be found in: “Nasza Księgarnia. 40 lat działalności dla (...)

3There were more than 400 artists active in Poland in the field of book illustration at this time2. Some of them were already respected as painters, poster designers or architects, and only occasionally worked in this field. Whereas others, such as Antoni Boratyński, Bohdan Butenko, Janusz Grabiański, Olga Siemaszko, Janusz Stanny, Józef Wilkoń, and Zdzisław Witwicki, to name just a few, produced an impressive number of more than one hundred books each.

  • 3 The phenomenon was described extensively in: Anita Wincencjusz-Patyna, Stacja Ilustracja: Polska il (...)

4Therefore it comes as no surprise that a strong state patronage, together with “the army” of skilled professionals, graphic artists and painters who were active in book illustration in the decades of 1950s and 1960s, contributed to the phenomenon that was soon recognised worldwide, and was known as the Polish School of Illustration.3 Its success continued until the late 1970s, when the political, economic and social situation changed dramatically in Poland, leading to martial law in 1981. The focal year of 1968 seems to be the peak of this period, as Polish artists won awards and distinctions at notable international competitions (Biennial of Illustration in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia; International Book Exhibition IBA in Leipzig, Germany; Triennial of Applied Arts in Milan, Italy; The Most Beautiful Books of the World in Frankfurt, Germany, and many others), and their work was shown all over the world. For instance, in 1968, within various shows, Polish illustrations were to be seen in Chapultepec, Mexico; Tokyo and Osaka, Japan; Bagdad, Mosul, Basra and Kirkuk, Iraq; Leipzig and Frankfurt, Germany; Bologna, Italy; Gent and Brussels, Belgium. It is also worth mentioning here the highly acclaimed and recognised worldwide Polish School of Posters and the Polish Film School. All the afore-mentioned aspects shaped the circumstances for Polish book graphic design to flourish fully in the decades between 1950 and 1980, a period that has been called the golden age of Polish book illustration.

  • 4 The term thaw” was borrowed from Ilija Erenburg’s novel, Ottiepiel, published in 1954.
  • 5 Compare: Nowocześni a socrealizm [The Modern Ones versus Social Realism], ed. by Józef Chrobak and (...)

5This prolific time in Polish art started in the mid 1950s, and was undoubtedly bound with the period of the so-called Thaw4 (1953-1957), with its peak at the end of 1956. The Thaw started with Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin’s death, and continued for a short period with the gradual liberalisation of the Socialist party’s repressive policy. It was especially significant for the arts, as the decision-makers ended their support for the social realistic tendency in arts and literature. This situation allowed Polish artists to be more courageous and free in their artistic expression in various disciplines, including in the applied arts. The events of 1956, especially the first general strike in Poland since World War Two, and street demonstrations in the city of Poznań – known as “Poznań June” – which was put down violently by the militia forces, but also the attitude of Polish dissentient writers, who condemned the cult of individualism, amongst other things, led to changes in the form and contents of works of art and literature executed at the end and after 1956. This time was perceived to promise change, and above all it marked the birth of hope within the Polish society, hence it has often been referred to as a watershed in Polish history5. Therefore 1956 seems to be the real turning point in children’s literature and related art in Poland, rather than 1968. This latter year started with student rebellions, and the gradual escalation of the anti-Semitic campaign which resulted in the dismissals of soldiers, policemen and other officials, as well as many university professors, and eventually in mass emigration of people of Jewish origins. 1968 was also important for the history of Poland as the year in which the Polish Army participated in putting down “the Prague spring” in August of 1968. All these events, together with their repercussions, significantly affected the world of politics and every-day life for many people. They were also reflected to a certain extent in the world of culture, especially theatre and literature. However, this was not the case of arts and literature for children, nor in book illustration for children.

  • 6 Jan Brzechwa, Kaczki, Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1972.
  • 7 Jurij Jakowlew, Lew wyszedł z domu, Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1972.
  • 8 Irina Tokmakowa, W zielonej wodzie, Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1974.
  • 9 Wiera Badalska, Ballady, Nasza Księgarnia, Warszawa 1975.

6The artistic output in the field of Polish book illustration in 1968 shows that experiments with typography, a modern language of visual communication, had been applied by the artists for a long time already. Some designs from the early 1970s show the use of pop-art means of expression, and the psychedelic style, associated with cultural revolution initiated in San Francisco in 1966, and the summer of love in 1967, which came a bit later to Poland, and reflected the artistic visions of the world developed in Heinz Edelmann’s artworks for Yellow Submarine (1968). The artist who willingly applied psychedelic aesthetics in her artwork was Krystyna Michałowska, a 1968 graduate from the Warsaw Academy, who debuted a year later. Good examples of the international counter-culture style include Michałowska’s illustrations for: Kaczki [Ducks] by Jan Brzechwa6 (ill. 1, ill. 2), Lew wyszedł z domu [The Lion Left Home] by Jurij Jakowlew7 (ill. 3) – both published in 1972, Irina Tokmakowa’s W zielonej wodzie [In the Green Water]8 (ill. 4) from 1974, and one year later Ballady [Ballads] by Wiera Badalska9 (ill. 5).

Ill 1: Krystyna Michałowska, book cover of Kaczki [Ducks] by Jan Brzechwa, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1972

Ill 2: Krystyna Michałowska, illustration from Kaczki [Ducks] by Jan Brzechwa, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1972

Ill 3: Krystyna Michałowska, illustration from Lew wyszedł z domu [The Lion Has Left Home] by Jurij Jakowlew, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1972

Ill 4: Krystyna Michałowska, double spread from W zielonej wodzie [In Green Water] by Irina Tokmakowa, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1974

Ill 5: Krystyna Michałowska, illustration from Ballady [Ballads] by Wiera Badalska, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1975

7The majority of the titles published in Poland around the year 1968 were, however, far removed from this style. On the one hand they showed originality, an avant-garde attitude, they experimented with typography, and an artistic quest for new means of expression, and on the other, they revealed a traditional approach to illustration based on excellent craftsmanship, and the use of realism. I would like to focus on a few examples of book design and illustration which, as I see it, prove that this was an avant-garde movement. In this essay I will analyse six books published in 1968 which I argue are the most original in terms of technique, design and where they fit within traditions of children’s book illustration.

  • 10 Compare: Kristin Hallberg, Litteraturvetenskapen och bilderboksforskningen, Tidskrift för litterat (...)

8The books I have selected were designed by six different great Polish artists who all contributed significantly to the history of Polish book design art and can be placed among the “pillars” of the Polish School of Illustration. They represent the versatility of artistic approaches, ranging from cartoon drawings to an avant-garde for the time use of the medium of the “iconotext” (a term that was introduced much later, to designate the relationship between text and image)10. I also want to stress the variety of artistic means undertaken by the selected illustrators, both in terms of technique (watercolour and gouache painting, ink drawing, collage and photomontage) and ways or forms of artistic expression (humour, caricature, lyricism, surrealism, abstraction, etc.). In this proposed selection we also find examples of various literary genres and forms (the fable, short story, poem, detective novel, and drama). The artists represent a wide range of styles and manners, but first and foremost together they feature prominently in the history of Polish post-war book illustration.

  • 11 Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, Wieki dzień małego Gabriela, Biuro Wydawnicze “Ruch”, Warsaw 1968.

9The first subject is Andrzej Strumiłło (b. 1928) – a painter, poet, and reporter, who also dealt with photography, printmaking, poster design, exhibition design, and scenography. He made his debut in the area of book graphic design in 1956, and from this point on he illustrated c. 140 books for both young and grown-up readers. Amongst the many awards he received in the course of his career, he won the Grand Prix of the Biennial of Illustration in Bratislava in 1971. In 1968 “Ruch” published a book with his illustrations, entitled Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Big Day] written by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz11 (ill. 6).

Ill 6: Andrzej Strumiłło, book cover of Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

10This story from Mexico about Gabrielito’s trip with his aunt to the capital city, and his encounter with an armadillo, is exotic and ordinary, fantastic and down-to-earth all at the same time (ill. 7).

Ill 7: Andrzej Strumiłło, double spread from Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

11The pictures join two visual orders – the imaginary sceneries are combined with the traces of reality (ill. 8).

Ill 8: Andrzej Strumiłło, illustration from Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

12The artist achieves this by playing with perspectives, frames, and choice of standpoints (ill. 9).

Ill 9: Andrzej Strumiłło, illustration from Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968… poor quality!

13One of the most intriguing illustrations is the one depicting Uncle Wenustiano sitting on the pavement, holding the armadillo which is trying to escape, while the whole scene is seen from a bird’s view (ill. 10).

Ill 10: Andrzej Strumiłło, illustration from Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

14The sequence of 20 images is very dynamic, and the country of Mexico as a location for the story explains the bright contrast colours, and the prevalence of intense pinks, oranges and reds to evoke Mexican folk art (ill. 11).

Ill 11: Andrzej Strumiłło, double spread from Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

  • 12 Wanda Chotomska, Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy, Biuro Wydawnicze “Ruch”, Warsaw 1968.

15A colourful, joyful and crazy world is introduced in the next book, Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy [If Tigers Ate Candies] (ill. 12), a musical poem written by one of the most popular contemporary children’s literature authors in Poland, Wanda Chotomska12.

Ill 12: Maria Uszacka, book cover of Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy [If Tigers Ate Candies] by Wanda Chotomska, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

16The poem was illustrated by another lady, Maria Uszacka (1932-2017) who graduated from Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, and was a student of Jan Marcin Szancer. She collaborated with numerous Polish publishers and children’s magazines, and she also designed many postcards. Her debut took place in 1958, and the artist designed and illustrated over 50 books for children and young readers.

17Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy is a highly humorous story with many absurd tones (ill. 13).

Ill 13: Maria Uszacka, double spread from Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy [If Tigers Ate Candies] by Wanda Chotomska, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

18The book has a typical scheme loved by children: “what if…”. This poem perfectly suits the worlds inhabited by the characters, which is reminiscent of Edward Lear’s limericks. The book starts with the two music records’ chatter, therefore the motives of a long play (ill.14) (and repeated circles) as well as music notes and staves (which on the book pages become the leaves and branches on a tree, or flowers in a vase, or benches in the park) are used in the graphic design of the whole book.

Ill 14: Maria Uszacka, double spread from Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy [If Tigers Ate Candies] by Wanda Chotomska, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

19The artist uses a “naïve” topographical perspective, inspired by ancient Egyptian paintings (ill. 15); she combines black and white line drawings with painterly scenes executed in warm tones of brown, red and orange. This creates the effect of an artificial space with crazy characters moving around it. This is also a world that is filled visually with music, and where anything can happen, even animals go to the cinema (ill. 16).

Ill 15: Maria Uszacka, double spread from Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy [If Tigers Ate Candies] by Wanda Chotomska, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

Ill 16: Maria Uszacka, double spread from Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy [If Tigers Ate Candies] by Wanda Chotomska, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

  • 13 Jan Wilkowski, Awantura o kapcie, Biuro Wydawnicze Ruch”, Warszawa 1968.

20Black and white humorous drawings fill the book entitled Awantura o kapcie [A Fuss about Slippers] written by Jan Wilkowski13, and illustrated by Janusz Stanny (1932-2014) (ill. 17).

Ill 17: Janusz Stanny, book cover of Awantura o kapcie [A Great Fuss about the Slippers] by Jan Wilkowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

21Stanny is another professor in our selection of illustrators. He ran the Studio of Book Illustration at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts for thirty years, initially as Prof. Szancer’s assistant. In this position he taught many of the most important and successful contemporary Polish illustrators. Stanny graduated from graphic design in Prof. Henryk Tomaszewski’s studio in 1957. Tomaszewski, a master of the Polish poster school, taught his students how to use metaphors, synthesis and… lettering to build a perfect composition. All these elements can easily be spotted in Stanny’s artistic output. He designed various typefaces and writing styles. In addition to book graphic design he was active in the area of posters, satirical drawings, cartoons and animated movies. He was also the author of numerous covers and publishing series design. Stanny collaborated with many journals and magazines, and an impressive number of publishing houses, and he was an art director at “Ruch”. Since his debut in 1957 he illustrated more than 200 books. He is also an author of the text in a few of them.

22Awantura o kapcie is an example of Stanny’s approach to the graphic layout of books. We find here his original typefaces and typography, which are integral to the whole design, which in this case is based on dynamic, humorous black and white drawings. Human figures dominate these illustrations. The hilarious, neatly ordered rows of schoolgirls from the endpapers (ill. 18) introduce us to the literary genre in question, namely a school comedy about a girl called Ula and her Grandpa.

Ill 18: Janusz Stanny, endpaper from Awantura o kapcie [A Great Fuss about the Slippers] by Jan Wilkowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

23The characters in the illustrations are created by means of a few simple, flowing lines (ill. 19).

Ill 19: Janusz Stanny, double spread from Awantura o kapcie [A Great Fuss about the Slippers] by Jan Wilkowski, Ruch Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

24Stanny uses colour economically, only here and there, just to enliven the double spreads (ill. 20).

Ill 20: Janusz Stanny, double spread from Awantura o kapcie [A Great Fuss about the Slippers] by Jan Wilkowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

25The compositions are lively and bring humour to all the scenes. Thick crayon lines help the readers to follow the performance within the text, and introduce stage directions. Stanny’s mastery is also revealed in the construction of the characters’ bodies using parts of the printed text. The drawing is deceptively simple, it seems to be easy to follow even by the youngest schoolkids, but it was created thanks to the artist’s great imagination and his technical skills (ill. 21).

Ill 21: Janusz Stanny, double spread from Awantura o kapcie [A Great Fuss about the Slippers] by Jan Wilkowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

  • 14 Janusz Domagalik, Pięć przygód Detektywa Konopki, Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1968.

26Another humourist in this selection is Bohdan Butenko (b. 1931), who designed the illustrations and layout for a detective novel for young readers written by Janusz Domagalik under the title Pięć przygód Detektywa Konopki14 [Detective Konopka’s Five Adventures] (ill. 22).

Ill 22: Bohdan Butenko, book cover of Pięć przygód detektywa Konopki [Detective Konopka’s Five Adventures] by Janusz Domagalik, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

27Butenko is one of the more famous names of Polish illustration, and he is also one of the most beloved by subsequent generations of readers. He graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. He designed numerous posters, postcards, scenography for theatres and TV programs, as well as working with animated movies, and collaborating with many children’s magazines. He was an art editor and a chief art editor in Nasza Księgarnia and “Ruch” publishing houses. His real debut in the area of book design took place in 1956, and since then he has illustrated over 200 books. Though he has never been a professor at the academy, he has influenced many younger graphic artists, especially illustrators.

28Pięć przygód Detektywa Konopki is an example of Butenko’s way of thinking about a book as a whole which cannot be separated from any part. The artist himself claims that a book is like a sweater – when you start knitting, you cannot take away anything from it. The book in question is carefully designed down to the very last fine detail – even the parts that are not usually taken that much into consideration by artists. For example, if we look at the colophon at the end of the publication, we can see that it has been inscribed in a Hungarian postal form (ill. 23).

Ill 23: Bohdan Butenko, editorial note from Pięć przygód detektywa Konopki [Detective Konopka’s Five Adventures] by Janusz Domagalik, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

29A lot of this book’s pages are laid out like newspaper pages, with lines separating columns and pictures. The book’s genre inspired the artist to imagine the pages are a detective’s notebook (ill. 24).

Ill 24: Bohdan Butenko, double spread from Pięć przygód detektywa Konopki [Detective Konopka’s Five Adventures] by Janusz Domagalik, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

30Butenko’s specific style of drawing works perfectly in this format, with his quick sketches and careless writing. In all these illustrations the artist is irresistibly funny. It is even more effective when we compare the drawings with their captions. The choice of scenes illustrated by Butenko is also surprising as quite often he decides to focus on the additional information (given in brackets for instance), or the events seemingly not at all important for the main plot. Perhaps this has been done to draw our attention at the way in which a good detective should work, when he considers every single piece of information, even those which appear to be uninteresting to everyone else. The only color used in this book (except for its covers) is green, which is also used for the printed text and the title pages for each of Detective Konopka’s adventures. The rest is black. Another satirical effect has also been created by using completely blurred photos, what reminds us of the poor technical quality of Polish newspapers at that time (ill. 25).

Ill 25: Bohdan Butenko, illustration from Pięć przygód detektywa Konopki [Detective Konopka’s Five Adventures] by Janusz Domagalik, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

31We must use our imagination here, as only the captions give us some clues as to what actually is shown in the pictures. Throughout the story Detective Konopka receives letters in blue envelopes, which explains the cover design (ill. 22) and also shows Butenko’s appropriation of certain graphic concepts.

  • 15 Stanisław Szydłowski, Idzie kot, Biuro Wydawnicze “Ruch”, Warsaw 1968.

32We find another variation on the collage, namely a photomontage, in yet another book published in 1968, Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] (ill. 26) by Stanisław Szydłowski15, with photos taken by Jan Styczyński, a famous Polish animal photographer, and designed by Stanisław Zamecznik (1909-1971).

Ill 26: Stanisław Zamecznik, book cover of Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

33Zamecznik graduated in architecture from the Warsaw Technical University, and was mainly active in the area of architecture, interior design, exhibition design and scenography. Nevertheless, he also designed quite a few books for adults and several titles aimed at children.

34Idzie kot (ill. 27) is a collection of six short poems about cats’ personalities and habits.

Ill 27: Stanisław Zamecznik, title page of Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

35Szydłowski’s verses are witty, surprising and dynamic. Zamecznik’s graphic layout and his original additions to black and white photos by Styczyński are of a similar nature: humorous (ill. 28), astonishing and vivid (ill. 29).

Ill 28: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

Ill 29: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

36The designer adds orange (ill. 30) and blue colour, he plays with composition using full shots (ill. 31) and extreme close-ups (ill. 32), to use film terminology.

Ill 30: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

Ill 31: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

Ill 32: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

37A silhouette of a carefully walking cat is a recurring motif ill. 33, but overall the set of photos has been selected to show how different cats may be in their appearances and behaviour.

Ill 33: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

38The whole graphic layout is based on the pictures arranged in a rhythmical order, to an overall elegant effect, echoing the cats’ nature (ill. 34).

Ill 34: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

  • 16 Wiktor Woroszylski, Mysie sprawki, Biuro Wydawnicze Ruch”, Warsaw 1968.

39The last book in this “1968 selection” is a small collection of short poems entitled Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] written by Wiktor Woroszylski16, and designed by Jan Młodożeniec (1929-2000) (ill. 35).

Ill 35 : Jan Młodożeniec, book cover of Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

40The artist was one of the pillars of the Polish School of Posters, and was also widely recognised for his work in graphic design. Following his debut in 1953 he designed numerous books, mainly for adults, but some titles were dedicated to children, and in each of these cases they appeared to be real masterpieces in original graphic design.

41Mysie sprawki is an unusual example, and to some extent the most avant-garde book of all the proposed titles. The “illustrations” are actually made up solely of letters. While we get the feeling of the presence of hundreds of mice everywhere, but there is in fact only one little tiny mouse drawn in the whole book, in the title page (ill. 36).

Ill 36: Jan Młodożeniec, title page of Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

42The artists uses the shapes of block and written letters to create the impression of living creatures (a wonderful “g” letter which indeed has “a tail” ill. 37; no wonder, too that question marks “???” also play an important graphic role in the text blocks in this book).

Ill 37: Jan Młodożeniec, double spread from Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

43The verses of the poems are arranged in various directions: vertically, diagonally, or in a serpent shape (ill. 38).

Ill 38: Jan Młodożeniec, double spread from Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

44The typefaces change their size, thickness, structure and colour (ill. 39).

Ill 39: Jan Młodożeniec, double spread from Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

45The shapes of the letters perfectly reflect the literary matter. Woroszylski’s poems are comical, even a little absurd, they play with words as mice tend to play with cats, and Młodożeniec plays with our eyes in his graphic design (ill. 40).

Ill 40: Jan Młodożeniec, double spread from Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968

46Conclusion: The selection of the titles from the rich treasury of Polish book production for young readers, released in the memorable year of 1968, reveals the diversity, originality, and high quality of Polish book design and illustration. At the same time, surprisingly enough, it shows the freedom of artistic expression in the discussed period, which, for the majority of Polish people living under the Communists’ reign and control was actually not associated with democracy and liberty at all. The censors seemed to be more worried about the morality of books addressed to children, rather than the possibility that they might include politically engaged, “dangerous” contents. The selected examples detailed in this essay also prove the continuation of the earlier artistic quests and experiments with design, which started in Poland around 1956, the year which could be referred to as the real turning point in the world of Polish culture.

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Notes

1 Compare: Elżbieta Jamróz-Stolarska, Serie literackie dla dzieci i młodzieży w Polsce w latach 1945-1989. Produkcja wydawnicza i ukształtowanie edytorskie [Fiction Series for Children and Young Adults in Poland in 1945-1989. Publishing Output and Editing], Wydawnictwo SBP, Warsaw 2014, pp. 50-51.

2 A lot of other useful statistical data may be found in: “Nasza Księgarnia. 40 lat działalności dla dziecka i szkoły [“Nasza Księgarnia”. 40 Years of Activity for Child and School], Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1961, and: Pół wieku przyjaźni z dzieckiem i szkołą. 1921-1971 [Half a Century of Friendship with Children and Schools. 1921-1971], ed. by Stanisław Aleksandrzak, Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1972.

3 The phenomenon was described extensively in: Anita Wincencjusz-Patyna, Stacja Ilustracja: Polska ilustracja książkowa 1950-1980. Artystyczne kreacje i realizacje [Station Illustration: Polish Book Illustration 1950-1980. Artistic Creations and Realisations], Akademia Sztuk Pięknych im. Eugeniusza Gepperta we Wrocławiu, Instytut Historii Sztuki Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, Wrocław 2008, 528 pp., 426 ills. (coloured, b&w); Małgorzata Cackowska, Anita Wincencjusz-Patyna, Look! Polish Picturebook, The Baltic Sea Cultural Centre, Gdańsk 2016.

4 The term thaw” was borrowed from Ilija Erenburg’s novel, Ottiepiel, published in 1954.

5 Compare: Nowocześni a socrealizm [The Modern Ones versus Social Realism], ed. by Józef Chrobak and Marek Świca, Starmach galery, Krakow 2000; Odwilż. Sztuka ok. 1956 r. [Thaw. Art c. 1956], ed. by Piotr Piotrowski, The National Museumin Poznań, Poznań 1996; Agnieszka Kwiatkowska, Poezja dla dzieci po przełomie ’56 [Poetry for Children after the ’56 Watershed], Polonistyka. Innowacje”, 2016, no. 3, pp. 109-121. Access on-line: http://pressto.amu.edu.pl/index.php/pi/article/view, 12.07.2017.

6 Jan Brzechwa, Kaczki, Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1972.

7 Jurij Jakowlew, Lew wyszedł z domu, Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1972.

8 Irina Tokmakowa, W zielonej wodzie, Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1974.

9 Wiera Badalska, Ballady, Nasza Księgarnia, Warszawa 1975.

10 Compare: Kristin Hallberg, Litteraturvetenskapen och bilderboksforskningen, Tidskrift för litteraturvetenskap”, 1982, no. 3-4, pp. 163-168.

11 Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, Wieki dzień małego Gabriela, Biuro Wydawnicze “Ruch”, Warsaw 1968.

12 Wanda Chotomska, Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy, Biuro Wydawnicze “Ruch”, Warsaw 1968.

13 Jan Wilkowski, Awantura o kapcie, Biuro Wydawnicze Ruch”, Warszawa 1968.

14 Janusz Domagalik, Pięć przygód Detektywa Konopki, Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw 1968.

15 Stanisław Szydłowski, Idzie kot, Biuro Wydawnicze “Ruch”, Warsaw 1968.

16 Wiktor Woroszylski, Mysie sprawki, Biuro Wydawnicze Ruch”, Warsaw 1968.

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Table des illustrations

Légende Ill 1: Krystyna Michałowska, book cover of Kaczki [Ducks] by Jan Brzechwa, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1972
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 380k
Légende Ill 2: Krystyna Michałowska, illustration from Kaczki [Ducks] by Jan Brzechwa, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1972
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 396k
Légende Ill 3: Krystyna Michałowska, illustration from Lew wyszedł z domu [The Lion Has Left Home] by Jurij Jakowlew, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1972
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,1M
Légende Ill 4: Krystyna Michałowska, double spread from W zielonej wodzie [In Green Water] by Irina Tokmakowa, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1974
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 264k
Légende Ill 5: Krystyna Michałowska, illustration from Ballady [Ballads] by Wiera Badalska, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1975
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 888k
Légende Ill 6: Andrzej Strumiłło, book cover of Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 844k
Légende Ill 7: Andrzej Strumiłło, double spread from Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 244k
Légende Ill 8: Andrzej Strumiłło, illustration from Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 820k
Légende Ill 9: Andrzej Strumiłło, illustration from Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968… poor quality!
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 380k
Légende Ill 10: Andrzej Strumiłło, illustration from Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 868k
Légende Ill 11: Andrzej Strumiłło, double spread from Wielki dzień małego Gabriela [Little Gabriel’s Great Day] by Helena Krzywicka-Adamowicz, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 260k
Légende Ill 12: Maria Uszacka, book cover of Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy [If Tigers Ate Candies] by Wanda Chotomska, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 72k
Légende Ill 13: Maria Uszacka, double spread from Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy [If Tigers Ate Candies] by Wanda Chotomska, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 272k
Légende Ill 14: Maria Uszacka, double spread from Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy [If Tigers Ate Candies] by Wanda Chotomska, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 260k
Légende Ill 15: Maria Uszacka, double spread from Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy [If Tigers Ate Candies] by Wanda Chotomska, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 264k
Légende Ill 16: Maria Uszacka, double spread from Gdyby tygrysy jadły irysy [If Tigers Ate Candies] by Wanda Chotomska, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 268k
Légende Ill 17: Janusz Stanny, book cover of Awantura o kapcie [A Great Fuss about the Slippers] by Jan Wilkowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-17.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 304k
Légende Ill 18: Janusz Stanny, endpaper from Awantura o kapcie [A Great Fuss about the Slippers] by Jan Wilkowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-18.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 440k
Légende Ill 19: Janusz Stanny, double spread from Awantura o kapcie [A Great Fuss about the Slippers] by Jan Wilkowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-19.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 292k
Légende Ill 20: Janusz Stanny, double spread from Awantura o kapcie [A Great Fuss about the Slippers] by Jan Wilkowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-20.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 308k
Légende Ill 21: Janusz Stanny, double spread from Awantura o kapcie [A Great Fuss about the Slippers] by Jan Wilkowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-21.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 300k
Légende Ill 22: Bohdan Butenko, book cover of Pięć przygód detektywa Konopki [Detective Konopka’s Five Adventures] by Janusz Domagalik, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-22.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 352k
Légende Ill 23: Bohdan Butenko, editorial note from Pięć przygód detektywa Konopki [Detective Konopka’s Five Adventures] by Janusz Domagalik, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-23.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 280k
Légende Ill 24: Bohdan Butenko, double spread from Pięć przygód detektywa Konopki [Detective Konopka’s Five Adventures] by Janusz Domagalik, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-24.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 288k
Légende Ill 25: Bohdan Butenko, illustration from Pięć przygód detektywa Konopki [Detective Konopka’s Five Adventures] by Janusz Domagalik, Nasza Księgarnia Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-25.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,2M
Légende Ill 26: Stanisław Zamecznik, book cover of Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-26.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 276k
Légende Ill 27: Stanisław Zamecznik, title page of Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-27.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 204k
Légende Ill 28: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-28.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 256k
Légende Ill 29: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-29.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 228k
Légende Ill 30: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-30.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 228k
Légende Ill 31: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-31.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 240k
Légende Ill 32: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-32.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 300k
Légende Ill 33: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-33.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 228k
Légende Ill 34: Stanisław Zamecznik (and Jan Styczynski – photo), double spread from Idzie kot [A Cat Is Walking] by Stanisław Szydłowski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-34.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 244k
Légende Ill 35 : Jan Młodożeniec, book cover of Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-35.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 244k
Légende Ill 36: Jan Młodożeniec, title page of Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-36.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 460k
Légende Ill 37: Jan Młodożeniec, double spread from Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-37.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 236k
Légende Ill 38: Jan Młodożeniec, double spread from Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-38.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 248k
Légende Ill 39: Jan Młodożeniec, double spread from Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-39.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 260k
Légende Ill 40: Jan Młodożeniec, double spread from Mysie sprawki [Mice’s Doings] by Wiktor Woroszylski, “Ruch” Publishing House, Warsaw 1968
URL http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/docannexe/image/1980/img-40.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 273k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Anita Wincencjusz-Patyna, « Children’s Book Design and Illustration in Poland, c. 1968 », Strenæ [En ligne], 13 | 2018, mis en ligne le 15 mai 2018, consulté le 22 mai 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/strenae/1980 ; DOI : 10.4000/strenae.1980

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Auteur

Anita Wincencjusz-Patyna

The Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wroclaw, Poland [Akademia Sztuk Pieknych im. Eugeniusza Gepperta we Wroclawiu]
Email: a.wincencjusz@asp.wroc.pl


Studied art history at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. She devoted her PhD thesis to history of Polish book illustration in the period of 1950-1980 which came as a book, Stacja Ilustracja [Station Illustration] in 2008. Assistant Professor at the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wroclaw, vice-dean of the Faculty of Painting and Sculpture. She gives lectures on art history and theory, history of painting, she also runs seminars for MA candidates. Art critic and curator. Member of national and international children’s books contests. Co-author of Look! Polish Picturebook (2016, with M. Cackowska), numerous articles on history and theory of book illustration in Poland and abroad as well as various texts dedicated to contemporary art.

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