“BASHA” Film Poster Exhibit

BASHA: FILM POSTERS
Rare North American Exhibit as part of the Fantasia Film Festival
Co-presented by The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies and Spectacular Optical

Exhibit: Friday July 26-Sunday August 4, 2013
J.A. de Seve Cinema Foyer1400 Maisonneuve O., Montreal
Talk by Daniel Bird:
Friday July 26, 3:30pm-4:30-pm

Barbara ‘Basia’ Baranowska – best known in North America for her poster for Andrzej Zulawski’s POSSESSION – is the unsung hero of Polish poster art. Whereas the likes of Jan Lenica developed a distinct, often instantly recognizable style, Barbara Baranowska was a chameleon (as reflected in her alternating use of ‘Basia’, ‘Basha’ and ‘Bacha’ as her professional name). She donned a variety of graphic personae – from the sometimes brutal cut outs of her early Polish book jackets to voluptuous, almost psychedelic surrealism of her French film posters. In sharp contrast the savage eroticism of her later posters, Baranowska was adept in evoking a colourful fairytale world brimming with animals. While she may not be the most prolific artist of her generation, the works she produced in Poland during the 1960s and France in the 1970s are unforgettable.

To kick off the BASHA exhibition, leading scholar of Eastern European cult cinema Daniel Bird will give a talk on the history, styles and influence of the Polish Poster School, including rare clips and stills.


The Polish Poster School

During the late 1950s, there was a revolution in Polish poster art. Free from the shackles of socrealizm (the Polish adaptation of socialist realism), a wave artists brought a strikingly modern artistic sensibility to the poster. Lacking the resources to produce slick Hollywood like posters, these artists turned to various modernist trends for inspiration. Often armed with little more than a brush, crayon or simply just a pair of scissors, these Polish artists developed a raw, sometimes savage but always intelligent approach to the film poster. Artists such as Henryk Tomaszewski, Jan Lenica and Roman Cieslewicz developed a unique and often witty approach to rendering the very essence of a film in a single, eye catching image. Less well known, however, are the women of Polish poster art, including Teresa Byszewska and, in particular, Barbara Baranowska.

Biography

Baranowska was born into a noble family in Katowice in 1934. She studied painting at the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1959. During the 1960s Baranowska designed film posters, book jackets and illustrated children’s books. Less prolific than her more famous contemporaries (Jan Lenica and Roman Cieslewicz), she nevertheless employed a similarly pared down visual approach to her assignments.

Baranowska designed the covers and sometimes illustrating numerous books by the Polish-Jewish author Adolf Rudnicki (1909 – 1990), including Krowa (Cows), Narzeczony Beaty (The Blessed Bride), Niekochana (The Unloved) and Zolnierze (Soldiers) and Lato (Side). In addition, she also illustrated children’s books, the first of which was Mira Jaworczakowa’s Najmniejszy podroznik (The Smallest Explorer) in 1962.

Strikingly beautiful, Baranowska made cameos in a handful of films, including Janusz Morgernstern’s Do widzenjie do jutra… (See You Tomorrow, 1960) and Witold Giersz’s Oczekiwanie (Awaiting, 1962). However, arguably the most widely seen of her artwork is the cow she designed for a brand of butter which even today can still be found in Polish shops…

At the end of the 1960s, Baranowska moved to Paris. She designed some of the most visual striking film posters of the 1970s, including Milos Forman’s Taking Off (1971), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1971) Luis Garcia Berlanga’s Life Size (1974) and Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession (1981).

During the late 1970s, Baranowska moved to Hollywood, where she completed a series of portrait paintings, including Alfred Hitchcock, studio head Barry Diller and the Viennese magnate Charlie Bluhdorn.

She lives in Paris.

-Text by Curator Daniel Bird
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About the author:

Kier-La Janisse

Kier-La Janisse is a film writer and programmer, Owner/Artistic Director of Spectacular Optical Publications and founder of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. She has been a programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, co-founded Montreal microcinema Blue Sunshine, founded the CineMuerte Horror Film Festival (1999-2005) in Vancouver, was the Festival Director of Monster Fest in Melbourne, Australia and was the subject of the documentary Celluloid Horror (2005). She is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 2012) and contributed to Destroy All Movies!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film (Fantagraphics, 2011), Recovering 1940s Horror: Traces of a Lost Decade (Lexington, 2014) The Canadian Horror Film: Terror of the Soul (University of Toronto Press, 2015) and We Are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale (PS Press, 2017). She co-edited and published the anthology books KID POWER! (Spectacular Optical, 2014), Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s (Spectacular Optical, 2015) and Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin (2017), and is co-editing Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television for release in late 2017. She is currently writing A Song From the Heart Beats the Devil Every Time: Children’s Programming and the Counterculture, 1965-1985, monographs about Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter and Patricia Birch’s Grease 2, and is in development on a TV series based on her book House of Psychotic Women with Rook Films.

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