Committed Aesthetics. The Role of “Poligrafika” in Increasing Aesthetic Criteria of Polish Publishing in 1947–1956
The article analyses the role of “Poligrafika. Czasopismo Poświęcone Zagadnieniom Przemysłu Poligraficznego” in propagating the idea of beautiful print and increasing the aesthetic criteria of Polish publishing in 1947–1956. “Poligrafika” was the first post-war periodical devoted to publishing and the first to emphasise the significance of aesthetics in printing. It featured articles concerned with theory and practice of typography and graphic art in books, selected issues in the history of printing as well as presenting printers and graphic designers. The periodical organised contests and exhibitions of beautiful books, strived to unify Polish graphic terminology and presented professional literature. Initially (1947–1948), “Poligrafika” treated the issue of aesthetics in printing very ambitiously, propagating the idea of a beautiful book, newspaper, poster and occasional prints, emphasising that the design of prints has an artistic scope. It postulated the development of new aesthetics for the masses, “committed aesthetics”, and attempted to reconcile the mass-produced book with the highest typographic standards, advising that each print should display an individual graphic form worthy of its content. Much attention was devoted to the criticism of the quality of printing, postulating the need for change. After a two-year break “Poligrafika” was published again, focusing on the requirements of the six-year plan (1951–1956). While it still criticised bad quality of published prints and looked for ways of mending the difficult situation, the ultimate task was to increase production output and efficiency through standardising production process and introducing severe, frequently absurd cost-cutting measures. Aesthetics was subjugated to new trends, following the changes introduced in the publishing market in the Soviet Union.