Academy adds lecture to poster exhibition

Mar 12, 2004 by Ian Evans

The co-curators of “Czech Film Posters of the 20th Century,” the exhibition currently featured at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will present companion lectures in the Academy’s Grand Lobby Gallery on Thursday, March 18, at 8 p.m. Petr Stembera and Marta Sylvestrova will travel from the Czech Republic to give a guided tour of Czech film and poster history, presented as part of the Academy’s intimate “Lectures in the Lobby” series.

In “The Beginnings of Mass Entertainment,” Stembera will introduce the most imaginative poster images from the beginning of the age of cinematography until the first years of WWII. His discussion will explore the creation of monumental poster lithographs that mainly depicted horror themes, romantic dreams and passionate emotions. The first attempts to design the modern film poster will be traced to the works of Frantisek Zelenka, as well as photomontage and collage posters by Antonin Pelc. Other highlights in the overview will include posters for such world-famous Czech movies as “Eroticon” and “Extase” by Gustav Machaty.

In her companion lecture, “Posters as an Art of the Street,” Sylvestrova will introduce posters designed in the former Czechoslovakia (post-WWII) through today. Her talk will begin with the communist coup in 1948 and the resulting establishment of socialist realism as the state doctrine in art. After 1958, in the period of political liberation, Czech poster art achieved a sort of artistic independence, during which fine art artists were able to communicate with a wide public, using a diverse range of styles including informal, structural, abstraction, lettrism, psychedelic, pop and op art and surrealism. In the so-called “normalization” period (after 1968), many talented artists emigrated to the West or chose to pursue their personal projects. The possibility of expression was again suppressed by state censorship and even self-censorship. Artists working under these conditions employed symbolic poster metaphors, surrealist visions, typographically witty solutions and grotesque styles. Sylvestrova, of the Moravian Gallery in Brno, will also highlight examples of Czech film posters influenced by western commercial views and will explore the attempts of young contemporary designers to move the traditional forms of poster design towards contemporary graphic minimalism.

“Czech Film Posters of the 20th Century” features 70 posters dating from 1910 through 2000. Gathered from the collections of the Moravian Gallery, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, Ex Libris Prague, and several private collections, the exhibition is presented in association with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Los Angeles and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. Gallery viewing hours are Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends, noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Tickets for the Academy’s “Lecture in the Lobby” on March 18 are $3 for the general public and free for Academy members and students with valid ID. They may be obtained in advance at the Academy during regular business hours, or on the night of the lecture when the doors open at 7 p.m. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information call 310-247-3600.