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Paris-Berlin 1900–1933 poster

Contributed by Stéphane Darricau on Mar 27th, 2021. Artwork published in .
    Paris-Berlin 1900–1933 poster
    Photo: Stéphane Darricau. License: All Rights Reserved.

    There was much more to Roman Cieślewicz (1930–1996) than his grounding in the Polish School of poster art. Born in Lwów (today Lviv, Ukraine), he studied at Kraków Academy of Fine arts between 1949 and 1955 before joining the Ty i Ja monthly in Warsaw, acting as its art director from 1959 and 1962. The following year, he moved to Paris, launching a new phase of his career which encompassed art directing periodicals (Vogue, Elle, Opus International), teaching at the École supérieure d’Arts graphiques (ESAG) and designing posters for movies (Yves Boisset’s L’Attentat, in 1972) and cultural clients.

    In 1978, the recently-opened Centre Georges-Pompidou/Musée national d’Art moderne in Paris showed a groundbreaking exhibition about the artistic relationships between Paris and Berlin during the first decades of the twentieth century. Paris-Berlin 1900–1933 met with huge critical and popular acclaim, and Cieślewicz’s striking poster, uncharacteristically set in all-lowercase Helvetica, was acknowledged as an instant classic, highly coveted by art lovers and collectors alike. Seven months later, Cieślewicz also designed the poster for the Centre’s next blockbuster show, Paris-Moscou 1900–1930.

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    7 Comments on “Paris-Berlin 1900–1933 poster”

    1. Thank you, Stéphane!

      The red-and-black device obviously is lettering, inspired by the Art Deco period. In terms of typefaces, Cassandre’s Bifur (1929) has similar elements.

      Cieślewicz’s poster design was also adapted for the cover of the exhibition catalog:

      Photo: Librairie Le Feu Follet

    2. Thank you Florian — I would also like to do a post on the Paris-Moscou 1900–1930 poster, which uses lettering as well (though this time based on Block, paired with Hans Jörg Hunziker’s bespoke typeface for the CGP), but I can’t find a good picture of it online.

    3. Here are two related covers from exhibitions in the Centre Pompidou: Paris-Paris 1937–1957 (feat. Glaser Stencil – a nod to the Berlin cover?).

    4. Nice pictures, Matthijs, thank you very much. I’m still under the impression that it’s lettering based on Block (the 1 and 9 look suspicious to me) and not Block itself, though — but I may be mistaken…

    5. Stéphane, I second your assessment: The general style including weight, proportions and rounded corners follow Berthold’s Block, and specifically its Schwer style. Details like R with the curved leg or M with high pointed center are a match, too. Others aren’t: In addition to 1 and 9, 3 is different as well: In Schwere Block, the numeral has vertical terminals. What catches my eye as an alien element is the round C with diagonal terminals. Block came with a number of alternates that enabled the justification of blocks of text. The C was available in two widths, too, but both forms were cut vertically. See them both in use in an ad from 1921 (wide C in “Schwere”, narrow C in “Künstlerische” and “Werbedrucke”). This design feature corresponds to the fact that in German spelling, the letter C exclusively is followed by h, H, or K, so having vertically terminated curves helps with achieving compact, blocky word images. Cieślewicz apparently adjusted these forms so that they perform better in the matrix of glyphs.

    6. I must admit I had not compared the cover typography with the typeface it is based on,looks like your’re reight!

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