Gorka, Wiktor

WIKTOR GORKA (1922-2004)

After studying painting at the studio of Jerzy Nowoseilski and Tadeusz Kantor, Wiktor Górka graduated with honors from the graphic design department of Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow in 1952 under professor Jerzy Karolak. Settling in Warsaw in the early 1950s, he began designing posters, books, magazine covers, labels, and logos in cooperation with Art & Graphics publishing house and Film Leasing Center, eventually becoming one of the deans of the Polish Poster School. For many years he was an active member of Polish Artists Association, the WAG, CWF and Fine Arts Studio Commission For Packaging, as well as a regular judge of Polish poster competitions. He designed over 300 posters, books, magazine covers, commercial logos and prints. He participated in many exhibitions around the world, receiving second prize in a national competition for the poster 6-year Plan (1949), second prize at the International Film Poster Competition in Karlovy Vary (1962), first prize at the International Competition for Tourist Posters in Berlin (1967), Silver Medal at the Second Polish Poster Biennale in Katowice (1967), among others. Górka created posters for films such as Spartacus, Beatrice Cenci, Two for the Seesaw, How Far, How Near, The Great Escape, Twilight of the Gods, One Man Band, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Sleepy Hollow and Marathon Man. His most famous work is the poster design for the cult favorite Cabaret (1973) directed by Bob Fosse.

In 1970 he traveled to Havana, Cuba with a group of Polish graphic designers to conduct training on graphic design development, ending with a joint Cuban/Polish exhibition. Later he was invited to San Carlos University in Mexico City (UNAM), beginning a long cooperation with the art schools Xalapa and Puebla that lasted through the 1990's. While in Mexico he created a series of posters supporting the building of Mexico's electrical grid, posters and covers for Colibri Publishing House and Plural Monthly, as well as posters for his own exhibitions and those of his students.

Highly regarded by Mexican art critics, Górka held over 20 individual exibitions (the largest surrounding Mexican Biennials in 1992 and 1998), culminating in the prestigious Jose Guadalupe Posada Prize in 2000 for outstanding input to the development of graphic design and art. He also had exhibitions in Vienna (1962), Warsaw (1964, 1972), Zilina (Czechoslovakia) (1964), Sofia (1963, 1965, 1987), Berlin (1969) and Havana (1970). Górka's favorite techniques were classical, but at the turn in the late '50s/early '60s he also experimented with photomontage ( see The Rest Is silence, 1960). His posters always united both subject and message in specific relation to their time and cultural environment. Górka always maintained strict, rigorous composition, creating unbreakable bonds between text and layout. With such disciplined foundations he created light, often humorous forms - sophisticated, brightly colored and atmospheric, earning him the nickname " the capturer of atmosphere."

To see Wiktor Gorka works from the Jim Hughes Collection click here.