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Głód poster

Contributed by Stéphane Darricau on Mar 28th, 2021. Artwork published in .
    Głód poster
    Reproduced from VeryGraphic: Polish Designers of the 20th Century by Jacek Mrowczyk (ed.), Culture.pl, 2015. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Having graduated in 1961 from Henryk Tomaszewski’s class at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Bronisław Zelek was a prominent member of the “second wave” of Polish poster artists. Though he cultivated an illustrative approach to image-making, when it came to the treatment of textual matter he usually eschewed hand-lettering for “regular” typefaces (in the 1970s, he himself designed a few, highly original dry-transfer alphabets for French manufacturer Mecanorma).

    In 1967, his unsettling poster for Danish filmmaker Henning Carlsen’s movie adaptation of Knut Hamsun’s novel Sult (Hunger) paired two contrasting weights of Hermes-Grotesk with an unidentified, extracondensed sans (bottom of the right-hand column).

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    • Hermes-Grotesk
    • unidentified typeface

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    2 Comments on “Głód poster”

    1. A bit of a side-note. Hermes-Grotesk was widely used on posters and notices from Nazi authorities during occupation in Poland. Here are some examples:

      s.twojahistoria.pl/uploads/…

      s.twojahistoria.pl/uploads/…

      martyrologiawsipolskich.pl/…

      I’m pretty sure there was not much thought behind it at the time—it was just widely available display font at local printers in Poland during occupation. It was used heavily after war as well. 

      Nonetheless it keeps me wondering, if it was a conscious choice with this particular poster. The typeface paired with sepia background, black and white execution, as well as thick black dividers brings to mind the aesthetics of war-time Nazi posters in Poland. At least for me, and I was born way after the war.

    2. Thank you, Pawel, that’s some interesting context. I’ve written a bit about Hermes and its popularity in Poland in this other post about a very different poster design for a very different subject, by the same designer:

      I don’t know if Zełek intended to reference the look of Nazi posters here. If he did, then the typeface on its own was not limited to this association for him. Hermes was also used by other Polish poster artists. For example, Ryszard Kiwerski almost exclusively relied on this typeface for a while. We need to take into account the small range of typefaces in the Polish People’s Republic (and in the war period) – there simply weren’t that many different options to choose from, even less so when we talk about poster styles.

      Strictly speaking, your second example (“Proklamation des Generalgouverneurs”) doesn’t show Hermes, but the (similar) Berthold Block – you can see the difference in the belly of the letter a. Coincidentally, the Idźkowski foundry in Warsaw merged copies of three styles of Hermes with Berthold’s Block eng into one series named Blok. So, both examples probably show Blok in use, but only one of them is Hermes.

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