Sándor Benkő was a great master of Hungarian poster art in the 1960s. His specialty was the circus poster, of which he created outstanding pieces of art. His cheerful and playful style was also well suited for movie and theatre posters.
In 1940-1941, he received private training from István Örkényi Strasszer, János Rozs and Ernő József Deutsch. Between 1947 and 1955, Benkő worked in the studio of László Muskovszky. After 1955, he became an independent designer, creating illustrations for important publishing houses, slide films, demonstration boards for the army, and graphic designs for fairs and exhibitions.
In Benkő’s oeuvre, his very unique, playful and sometimes almost grotesque circus and films posters stand out. Benkő started his career at the end of the 1950’s when he adopted the dominant expressive tendency: designs built upon the effects of contrast and rhythm. He discovered the paper cut technique, which he expertly used with painting and drawing. For a short while, Pop Art had an effect on his work, which can be seen mostly in his choice of colors.
In the 1960’s, Benkő found his unique voice and his favorite topic: the circus. He designed a huge number of circus posters for two decades. This special world of the circus, with its colourful and playful atmosphere, is vividly invoked by Benkő. He used colourful paper cuts and brilliant drawing; he also had a special talent for typography, as his letters perfectly matched the topic. The characteristic figures of the circus are always present in his posters: animals, artists, clowns, etc. Most of Benkő’s posters represent the most curious and unbelievable specimen of the show. Benkő consciously used elements from the everyday visual culture on his posters. While he received inspiration from the filthy and vulgar visual world of circuses, markets, kiosks, and fan parks, Benkő always achieved a high artistic level. .