Pre-war 1/2 Sheet (cca. 48 x 63 cm)
Fine, fold marks, small paper loss and tears.
Paper, stone lithography.
Decorative art deco safety propaganda poster by Tibor Pólya.
Pólya’s posters are always realistic, figurative, narrative and often humorous pieces. At the beginning of his career his style was influenced by Art Nouveau, then Modernism and the Classicist, elegant,Art Deco. He was inspired by the functional designs of Berény, Bortnyik and Kassák, and by the elegant Art Deco style of Konecsni as well. Finally, he developed his own style, guided by these influences.
This poster of his is closest to Art Deco what coexisted with Modernism in the 1920s and 1930s in Hungary. Art Deco is commonly referred to as a style of applied art, in which modernism is mixed with traditional art and orientalism. However, more precisely Art Deco should be described as a reaction to the needs and views of the gentry class. The essence of this style is decorative beauty, thus it uses motives from contemporary popular visual culture (films, advertisements, photos) and from earlier styles like Art Nouveau, folk art or historicism.
Art deco is not easy to define, as it is a very eclectic manner that typically fuse traditional and modern elements. It adopts principles from modernism (it often represents abstract forms for instance), but it lacks the social undertones of the avant-garde.
In the case of this composition the mixing of different style is clear: the depiction of the cog wheels are very similar to the modernist style (the diagonal arrangement and the stylized nature), while the skull is rather classical, painting like. Interestingly, regarding the typography, the styles are reversed: the green inscription is more like modernist whereas the white is more elegant and classical.
This piece is a rare safety propaganda poster. The message is very clear: the black background creates a sullen atmosphere, the dark green skull appears menacingly behind the cog wheels. The viewer of the design sees the shiny cog wheels clearly and the danger embodied by the skull is there as a blurred, uncanny threat that is ready to take action as soon as just one tiny mistake is made.