A lecture and a presentation “Polish Book Illustration (1900-2015) – ups and downs” will be devoted to the evolution of Polish illustration during the one hundred years, in the context of changes both in the conscience of the audiences, the way of understanding the tasks of illustrator, and role of illustration in books for adults and young readers. Great works of several eminent creators (among them Wyspiański, Bukowski, Dębicki, Okuń, Gawiński, Bartłomiejczyk, Mrożewski, Chrostowski, Stryjeńska, Themerson, the Lewitt-Him duo, Hiszpańska-Neumann, Szancer, Fijałkowska, Srokowski, Siemaszko, Lenica, Stanny, Młodożeniec, Wilkoń, Zamecznik, Mróz, Gaudasińska, Grabiański, Boratyński, Eidrigevičius, Butenko, Chmielewska, Concejo, the Mizielińscy) will be compared with mediocre works aspiring to the name of illustrations, which appear in the books of each of these eras. The definition of good and bad illustrations was modified along with the changes in the iconosphere of the surrounding world, along with the expectations and the age of the audience (in the case of the youngest ones, an extremely important factor). The review of each work will be accompanied by reflection on the diversity of artistic concepts and the quality of the illustration (illustration and the styles and trends in the disciplines of fine arts) but above all on the values that are born in the word-picture relationship and, regardless of the era, the attitudes of illustrators: from faithful following of the text with a view to complete the vision of a writer, to interpretations and variations, to creating one’s own literary work inspired by a literary work, to illustrations-abstractions. We will attempt to determine the specificity of the Polish illustration from the period of Young Polish until the modern times, taking into account the artistic factors (the predominant styles and elements of folk art in the Young Poland movement and the inter-war period, the meaning of expression, and the freedom of the artist’s actions towards the text in the 1960s-80s, the illustrative techniques determining the form – from traditional tools to computer programs) and politico-economic conditions (a trend based on native motifs before 1918, wood engraving in the illustrations of state-building artists of the inter-war period, publications in the socialist Poland, the phenomenon of Polish school of illustration, the collapse of the market for illustration and the changes after 1989, artistic education and débuts of the youngest generations of illustrators) in each of the decades. The presented achievements of Polish illustrators will be complemented by the general characteristics of the events and activities that stimulate their development and affect the level of Polish illustration (competitions and awards, initiatives promoting achievements the most important Polish artists: reprints, the Masters of Polish Illustration cycle, the Polish section of IBBY, portals about books) and institutions established to collect and promote illustration (such as BWA Galeria Zamojska, the Museum of Book Illustration in Zielona Góra, the Museum of Books for Children of the Public Library of the Capital City of Warsaw).
Dr. Katarzyna Kulpińska, art historian, assistant professor in the Unit of the History of Modern Art at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Nicolaus Copernicus University. Her research interests relate to Polish and general art of the twentieth century, primarily graphic art, poster, illustration and layout of books and magazines (especially the work of women in these disciplines) and art criticism. Co-organiser of conferences devoted to modern and contemporary art. The author of the book “Graphic layout of Young Poland’s literary and art magazines”, Warsaw, published DiG 2005, as well as dozens of articles relating to graphics, poster and illustration; editor of three monographs devoted to poster. Gives lectures and seminars for students of several courses of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Nicolaus Copernicus University. Member of AICA (International Association of Art Critics), the Association of Art Historians and the Polish Institute for the Study of Art of the World (President of the Toruń branch).