CREATIVE. BITING. CZECHOSLOVAK.
“Infinitely creative, sometimes sharp, biting, and often surreal. These are the adjectives most frequently attributed to the film posters produced in Czechoslovakia during the communist period.”
This article first appeared in CZ Magazine.
“At times bizarre, yet always ingenious. It may be possible that the names of Zdeněk Ziegler, Karel Teissig, Bedřich Dlouhý and Jiří Balcar don’t mean anything to you. Yet it is likely, given that these are some of the most important Czechoslovakian graphic artists ever, that you have already seen some of their works. The posters, besides being a reflection of Czechoslovakian art in general, are a useful tool to better understand the history of the country, especially the works that promoted foreign films nowadays indicate which “external” influences were allowed or not. Slowly, the graphic material produced in the era is now coming to light, with more and more shops and websites which sell the best works, testimonies of other times. However what is behind the peculiarity of these posters? Why this surreal style, with posters that sometimes have little or nothing to do with the films they refer to?
Unsurprisingly, the main reason is of an economic nature. In Czechoslovakia, as in Poland (the only other country that produced posters comparable in terms of boldness and surrealism), the cost of importing posters from abroad was high, and therefore the best painters, illustrators and artists were hired to create their own posters using only their imagination, without the marketing dictates that existed in other countries. Curiously, thanks to this freedom of expression and unbridled creativity, the authors of the poster art, unlike in other art forms, could experiment, without being monitored and viewed with suspicion by the authorities. Moreover, the fact that artists often worked without seeing the films for which they designed the posters, basing their work often only on the press clippings and the title, explains the unique and very personal interpretations of films on the posters, which were at times even misleading.” Read the full article by Lawrence Formisano