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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
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Jewish Polish Posters At JCC

        It is a little known fact in the Jewish world that Poland is famous for its artistic posters. At the annual art and poster fairs held in New York City there is always a very large and impressive collection of fine art posters from Poland.

 

        Surprisingly, a high number of them have Jewish themes. Last week an exhibit of nearly 100 Jewish-themed Polish posters was opened at the JCC of Manhattan.

 

         In a talk given at the gala opening of the exhibit, Donald Mayer spoke about the long history of Polish poster printing and how the art form always contained a Jewish flavor due to the fact that Jewish culture was so entwined with Polish culture as a whole.

 

       


The poster for the film “A Shop On Main Street”

 

        

       “Even after the Shoah, when there were hardly any Jews left in Poland,” Mayer explained, “there was not a significant drop in Jewish poster art.”

 

         There are many examples of Yiddish theater posters, as well as posters for books, films and cultural events.

 

         Most of the posters in the exhibit were printed after the Shoah, and therefore many have a melancholy look to them. Many are in stark colors with broken or twisted imagery, depicting the mood of the subject.

 

         The poster for “A Shop On Main Street” by Wiktor Gorka, 1965, was printed for the Academy-Award-winning film starring an aging Ida Kaminska. It shows shadows of a pair of old hands reaching for buttons on a beige background. This poster is an example of what was produced for the foreign market, as the film was produced by a Czech production company. Some other well-known films are represented at the exhibit are “Cabaret” and “Europa Europa.”

 



A post-Holocaust poster in memory of the lost Jewish communities of Poland.


 

        Music and opera are also popular poster topics. There is a whole grouping of posters relating to “Fiddler on The Roof” and other familiar stories that have been put to music, such as “Nabuco,” Verdi’s opera telling the story of the Babylonian exile, and “La Juive.”

 

         Another popular subject for poster art, especially after the fall of communism in 1989, is the Jewish Cultural Festival held each year in Krakow. For 18 years now, exceptional Jewish-themed posters have been produced for this popular festival held annually in Krakow at the end of June. While the Krakow festival features new posters each year, the Jewish festival in Warsaw reuses the same posters each year but changes the color scheme for every festival.

 


One of the many posters for the play “A Fiddler on The Roof” –

notice the stripes of the tzitzit used to form the theme of the play.

 


 

        Most of the posters were printed on poor paper, as posters are considered ephemera – printed works not expected to last very long. The posters at the exhibit have been backed with linen for preservation, and some are even signed by the artist.

 

         The exhibit by Yalin and Donald Mayer of Contemporary Posters can be viewed at the JCC of Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave. at 76th Street, until January 17, 2007.

 

         All the posters are for sale.

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More Articles from Shmuel Ben Eliezer
Arnold Fine 2008

I REMEMBER WHEN I first started working at the Jewish Press 18 years ago, Arnie who was in charge of the newsroom, took me under his wing…

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

Growing up in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century, I, along with most people, know very little about the First World War. The little that I did know was about the trench warfare in France and Belgium. The Eastern Front was barely, if ever, mentioned and usually stated that it ended with the Russian Revolution and overthrowing the Czar.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/jewish-polish-posters-at-jcc/2006/11/29/

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