Leader of the Polish Poster School
Ala Celinska Siwkiewicz for her beautiful write-up.
Henryk Tomaszewski 1914-2005 Warszawa, Poland
Polish artist, graphic designer, illustrator, most eminent representative of the Polish School of Poster Art, educator of many generations of Polish and European artists and graphic designers.
For over 50 years Tomaszewski was a fixture at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, where he first was a student graduating in 1939, then a professor from 1952 to 1985.
Very tall, handsome man even in the late years of his life, Henryk Tomaszewski was extremely popular and influential among his peers, students and art professionals across many generations of the post-war Poland. With a shapely bold head, long, expressive hands and an impeccable sense of style he dressed nonchalantly and never subscribed into passing styles and vogues du jour.
Focused, immersed deeply in his thoughts, he walked fast with purpose and precision. Detesting pose, cheap praise and platitudes Professor Tomaszewski was very stern and demanding of himself and his students, never shying away from biting criticism, often exposing one’s insincerity, phoniness and creative void.
His presence engendered deep respect mixed with anxiety and fear. His former students still reminisce on the days when the assignments were due as like the judgment days were upon them. At the same time they cherished those moments of clarity and resolution.
In 1950s Tomaszewski moved on to reduce his artistic vocabulary which used to be more painterly, toward simple and unembellished form. It often played on letter type, simple mark, laconic drawing, contrivance and visual puzzle. Through those devices he expressed his unique sense of humor, intellectual sophistication and esthetic poetry. He stayed true to that approach throughout his life.
His path and process of addressing visual and intellectual challenges were often evident in his methods as a teacher, where he would give the future graphic artists assignments based on abstract concepts and ideas. That approach stimulated their intellect and sensibility, shaping their logic, analytical thinking and imagination. He took time and deliberation when selecting the tasks and problems for his students to solve. Some of them still remain in mind to this day as very tough and challenging – “Prima Aprilis” (April’s Fools Day), “Dzień szatniarza” (Janitor’s Day), “Jest małe nic i Wielkie Nic” (There is little nothing and Great Nothing), or “Grubo/cienko” (Thick/Thin), "Wojsko" (Army) and "Szkola" (School). It was very easy to slip and fall through the thin ice in his class. Many a student faced his dry sarcasm and disdain. Very few deserved a nod. Some of them became great poster designers in their own right.
When Laurie Rosenwald, (an awesome illustrator by the way) visited Paul Rand's studio, she said the only picture hanging on his wall was this "MOORE" poster by
Henryk Tomaszewski z żoną Teresą Pągowską (his wife)
filming at a Tomaszewski poster show
Wonderful work “King Henio”