Polish posters have a long and illustrious history having been acknowledged in academic circles as Art in the 19th century. Differing from their counterpart European posters, the Polish posters were highly artistic and that tradition continued well into the 20th century.
The mid-’50s and ’60s are considered The Golden Age of Polish Posters.
In designing film posters, the artists had complete artistic control with no input from the movie studios.
The posters were more painterly than graphic and Paul Bartel and I had a longtime shared admiration for them; Paul had started collecting them.
He also participated in European film festivals as it was also a chance to make a foreign trip and meet “film” people. As time went on and he became better known, he served on festival discussion panels. After serving on one during The Berlin Film Festival, he regaled me with stories of the other members and breathlessly exclaimed, “I was the only one I’d never heard of!”
Paul was constantly spontaneously brilliant in conversation!
He returned from one and told me that he’d met and befriended one of the artists that we admired the most, Franciszek “Franek” Starowieyski, who was coming to Manhattan for a show of his paintings.
Paul invited Starowieyski and me to come by for drinks and conversation.
I was excited to meet him and even more excited when he drew some very baroque lettering spelling out my name!
Starowieyski was as friendly and warm as we could have hoped and we ended up having dinner at Elaine’s (Where else?)
Elaine was visiting with Jonathan Becker, who was just beginning a career that would continue after 1983 with a long affiliation with the revived Vanity Fair.
We introduced Starowieyski to Elaine but I’m not certain if either of them appreciated the other’s accomplishments.
So the year was winding down and I was back to my regular schedule of work, deadlines and the relief of riding my bicycle down to my gym in Greenwich Village. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of painters and writers who were also members and soon we had a small group that would meet for coffee and conversation after workouts. The Riviera on Sheridan Square was ideal for people watching in summer and for its coziness in the winter.
One of the people I met was a writer who had had his work actually published! Horst — whose last name I unfortunately can’t remember — was worldly in a way that was never elaborated and it lent him a certain kind of glamorous mystique.
He was discerning and intelligent. I’d told him about Rick, a young man from North Carolina that I’d met, and how surprised I was to learn of his family and their somewhat poverty stricken situation. Rick certainly didn’t look underprivileged, but in fact looked like he’d come from a very privileged family.
Rick had given me a copy of a story he’d written about a desperate family situation that was vaguely reminiscent of Faulkner, but not derivative. There was a situation involving matrimonial violence and I asked Rick what had inspired him to write such an intense story. He told me that it was a true story about his family and that he hoped to stop obsessing about it if he wrote about it!
Since I’d told Horst about him, I brought along the story for him to read and see what he thought.
Horst read the work and agreed that Rick was a talent! Rick was still in Manhattan and after the holidays would be going back to North Carolina and school at North Carolina State where he had a full scholarship. I continued to wonder what he would do in life with his gifts and yet with such a heavy emotional burden.