Sunday, December 16, 2007

Polish Poster Freakery

The 70s were the glory years for the State Circuses in the Soviet countries. Circus in Poland was run by ZPR, a central organization ruling a school, five large big tops around the country and thousands of performers in the world. My circus childhood is scattered by exceptional Polish tumblers, jugglers, animal trainers that after winning awards in Monte Carlo or spending seasons in Usa with Ringling bros., went often to work in Italian circuses.
Today, as for all those "State" circuses, the glorious Polish circus is little more than a memory (several good private-owned circuses exixts there). But it left an unique trace behind: the treasure of their posters. By 1962, ZPR asked to painters and illustrators to produce posters for their shows. What is amazing is that, opposite to any other circus tradition on the planet, the advertising didn't displayed the circus name or some appealing quote: just the word "Cirk". Some of those posters are today in art museums, and high priced for serious collectors. In the black-and-white communist towns and villages, those imaginative artists attracted the audience under those anonymous big tops with unparalled and imaginative graphics, with a surrealism and an hirony that must be always intrinsecal to the circus. Instead of promising, they was suggesting: inventing, deforming, emphasizing, reducing, mixing-up the animal and human dynamism, generating unexisting creatures. Evocating and provocating with monstruosities, just as we like.

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