Piotr Rypson (2011)

Against All Odds. Polish Graphic Design 1919-1949

Publishing house Karakter
Place of publication Kraków
Page references 408
Language English

ISBN: 978-83-62376-09-4

This is a panorama of the lost world of Polish graphic design in the thirty year period between 1919 and 1949, outstanding for its innovation and radical ideas. Eminent critic and art historian Piotr Rypson tells the fascinating story of how visual language evolved in Poland as the country entered the modern age, while also providing a portrait of everyday life in the interesting, though sometimes nightmare country that was the Second Republic, the Poland of World War Two and the first few post-war years. The book includes more than a thousand unique illustrations, three hundred graphics and is literally the only collection of its kind.
Against All Odds is a painstakingly reconstructed universe of graphic design – for everything from book covers, posters, flyers, packaging (did you know how pre-war condoms were wrapped?) and periodicals to postage stamps;
it reviews all aspects of social, economic and cultural life, from the works of left-wing propagandists to the advertising used by various trades and industries ("Sugar fortifies"!) and on to such amazing curiosities as the photomontage book cover for a collection of poems by Polish fascists. Against All Odds also provides a lucid guide to the main currents running through artistic design and documents the creation of the modern age: the experiments of the futurists and the achievements of functionalism and constructivism. This book finally demolishes the myth about the lack of a Polish tradition in graphic design and proves that it is not in the least limited to nothing but posters. Here today's designers will find inspiration and proof that stunning design solutions are not the sole province of the 21st century, art critics and historians will be provided with an exhaustive and competent reference source, and the foreign reader will discover a previously unknown and exotic body of creativity, while all readers will enjoy this fascinating, lively story of Poland's forgotten but colourful and diverse everyday life in the stormy period between 1919 and 1949.

(From the publisher's website).

  • Against All Odds. Polish Graphic Design 1919-1949

    Reviewed by M.A. Corinna Kühn