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A unique art collection comes to San Miguel

By James Palombo

It isn’t often that one can use “unique” in the true sense of the word. Yet for the Rosenberg Polish Poster Collection, now housed in San Miguel, it fits perfectly. In his Vintage Poster Gallery Martin Rosenberg has assembled the world’s most comprehensive collection of original Polish poster art and it is indeed worth the visit. And the experience of seeing this collection is almost eclipsed by the history that lies behind every piece.

The Rosenberg Polish Poster Collection
Sat, Feb 22, 4–7pm
Vintage Poster Gallery
Zacateros 57

Polish poster art found its start in 1945 Poland and extended through the era of oppression and censorship that ended with Communist rule in the country. In this period Poland’s leading painters and graphic designers focused their passion almost solely on this art form. For the artists and the public alike, poster art in the streets, on the building walls, fences and kiosk sidings. represented a form of hope and light and even rebellion. It seemed that the art, with images reflecting music, dance, the theater, the circus, sport and film, all within the context of the political and social influences of the times, often presented the only beauty visible in an otherwise grey and depressing atmosphere. And the fact that the radical art form actually flourished under Communist rule, with a most unusual compromise between government officials and the artist community, only added to the historical power of the art itself. (In seeing the posters one can imagine how it must have been to create art that was speaking to the complex social phenomena unfolding in Eastern Europe.)

In addition to the poster art on display and of course available for purchase, the Gallery is also proud to showcase the film Freedom on the Fence. This 40-minute documentary reveals for the first time the exceptional and inspiring story of how Poland’s history of poster design, under the ever-looming censorship of Soviet rule, influenced the artists in the country and eventually across the world. At the film’s end there is also a reference to the fact that cultural Polish poster art has given way to the commercial/consumer interests of the modern world, with large billboards and mass media technology, all of which signaled the end of the real Polish poster art movement.

Produced by Martin Rosenberg and featuring rare archival footage and exclusive interviews, this is a unique and compelling effort. Whether an artist, art lover, historian, or political scientist of just an interested person, it’s a story never previously told on film so it is definitely worth seeing. It no doubt inspires dialogue about both art and politics. There will be different showings of Freedom on the Fence throughout the months ahead. And if there is an interested group of friends who might want to see the film on a particular day or time, the gallery will be happy to arrange a screening accordingly.

It would be easy to continue to write about the posters as well as the film but it would be much better for you to drop by the gallery and take a look for yourself. It will truly be a unique experience, and you may well find the perfect piece(s) for your home or business. The grand opening of the Gallery will be this Saturday, February 22, from 4 to 7pm and everyone is welcome.

For more information see and visit the Vintage Poster Gallery at 57 Zacateros, phone: 415-115-4616 or 154-4141.


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