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The American West Meets Polish Poster Art

For years it was nearly impossible to see a foreign film, and particularly an American film, in Poland.

During the communist era, films under went painstaking review by the Artistic Commission before they were cleared for screening to the general public. And even if they were approved, usually years after their original release date, the U.S. publicity materials and marketing campaign remained forever banned.

This situation probably sounds like the height of creative oppression, and it many ways it was. Yet, in the communist government’s attempt to stifle foreign films, they, perhaps inadvertently, gave Polish graphic artists a lasting opportunity to shine. Enter the wonderful world of the polish movie poster.

Homegrown polish artists and graphic designers were commissioned to create alternative movie posters.  Unconstrained by the need, or ability, to make more traditional poster covered with big letters and movie stars, these artists were free to express the movie’s message as he or she saw fit. The results were often abstract, surreal and beautiful.

But why should equestrians care about this art form? First, because many of the movies from this era were westerns, and thus resulted in a stunning collection of equine art when the films were reimagined for a polish movie poster. In fact, many of the posters from this era can be found in a stunning book, entitled Western Amerykanski: Polish Poster Art & The Western, edited by Kevin Mulroy.

The posters displayed in this book, and discussed in three essays, are from Polish poster-making’s golden age, from the mid-1940s to the 1970s, and are part of the collection assembled by the Autry Museum of the American West. The Autry Museum, located in Los Angeles, houses a collection of more than a hundred Western posters created in Poland―the largest such collection outside of Poland itself.

But perhaps even more exciting is the fact that prints of many of these posters are also collectables, granting us equestrians and opportunity to be bring high equestrian art into our homes and stables without relying on more conventional choices. Make this look your own, and stand up in your own small way to the conventions that attempt to stifle our equestrian community!

Here’s just a flavor of what’s available!

The Misfits by Jerzy Jaworowski (1962)

Horses Of The Steppe by Jerzy Flisak (1979)

About the Author

Marjorie Wilkinson is the co-founder and co-editor of Counter-Canter Culture—a revolutionary online publication intended to unite the equestrians and equestrian-enthusiasts who aren’t afraid to kick up the dust that has settled on the conventional equine lifestyle. She is also a real-life Hollywood music supervisor and the official curator of Counter-Canter Culture’s musical column, 100% Sound.

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