Tadeusz Trepkowski

The famous anti-war poster No! was designed by Tadeusz Trepkowski in 1952 on the occasion of the Congress of the People for Peace in Vienna. Tapping into concise, simple means and a legible symbol, Trepkowski created a dynamic and highly suggestive composition depicting a plummeting bomb, its surface reflecting the ruins of a destroyed city. In 1955, during the 5th World Festival of Youth and Students in Warsaw, the poster No! was used as an element of decorations installed in public space. The image was rescaled to reach enormous dimensions and attached to the carcass of the destroyed PKO bank headquarters on the corner of Marszałkowska and Świętokrzyska streets. A hole was cut out in the place of the bomb in the original image to reveal the gruesome ruins of the bombarded building, thus bringing back to memory the immense scale of destruction wreaked by the war and issuing a warning against the prospect of another armed conflict. No! was thereby inscribed in the official, optimistic, anti-fascist narrative propagated by the socialist authorities of the Polish People’s Republic.

Tadeusz Trepkowski (b. 1914, d. 1954 in Warsaw) – Polish graphic and poster artist, universally recognized as one of the forerunners of the Polish Poster School. An autodidact, only very briefly trained at artistic schools, Trepkowski nevertheless gained renown in the 1930s for his lapidary and extraordinarily apt works with social and tourist themes. After World War II, he created graphic prints commissioned by the armed forces as well as political, official and cultural posters that usually featured concise and simple forms as well as unambiguous expressive metaphors and symbols.

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