Tomás Vlcek on Czech Posters

“We live in a world that is being increasingly inundated by the waste products of our own civilization. Our environment is being polluted not only by the fumes and refuse of industry and of a consumer economy, but by printed and electronically transmitted words and images. It is becoming clear that mental as well as material goods can produce their refuse dumps. We daily come across expressions whose value is menaced by inflation and devaluation or has already succumbed to their ravages. 

The most interesting pictures and texts on the hoardings of Czech cities are found in posters that advertise films and theatre performances. They perhaps do not display the professional polish that is so typical of the work of the highly specialized graphic designer of today, yet they are interesting because they bring elements of fine art into the world of advertising, not – as too often happens – in the form of unhappy borrowings, but as vital and creative principals. 

Most of the poster artists are not just designers. Many of them are also painters, architects, or sculptors, sometimes dramatists, writers or poets. The Czech film and theatre poster in fact commands a very wide expressive register which it has made so much its own that it can also afford to branch out into personal utterances and to risk those word-plays that can be handled only by someone who has mastered their language perfectly and can therefore turn it into poetry.”

— Tomás Vlcek, 1973/74 (via Graphis #166)