Born in Katowice, Poland, Waldemar Swierzy studied in 1947-1952 at the Faculty of Graphic Arts at the Katowice branch of the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts under Professor Jozef Mroszczak. He received his first Diploma in 1952 as one of the youngest graduates (started studying when he was 15).
Waldemar Swierzy is one of the most distinguished Polish poster artists. He also illustrates books, and book covers and designs record jackets, (notable for the excellent Contemporary World’s Prose cover), calendars and post stamps. He was the author of the Polish pavilion design at the International Fairs in New York, Vienna, Beijing, Casablanca and Poznan.
In the 50s he worked for the Arts and Graphic Arts Publishing House (WAG). At that time, WAG was one of main centers in Poland that shaped the nature of the Polish poster. Swierzy’s works exemplify the formation of the new concepts for poster, essentially changing the mainstream rules dating back to the 30s. As a result of these new concepts, there was a significant loosening of the strict rules, producing a smooth interplay of imagination and skill, mainly in painting.
Starting in 1965, Waldemar Swierzy lectured at the National College of Fine Arts (since 1996 the Academy of Fine Arts – ASP) in Poznan, collecting academic degrees until he became a full Professor (1987). In 1994, he took over the Poster Studio at the Warsaw ASP where he held the positions of Dean and Vice-Chancellor until 2001.
The artist gave guest lectures at several foreign universities: in Havana (1970), Mexico (1979-1980). West Berlin (1985-1986) and Kassel (1989-1990). Since 1966 he has been a member of the prestigious Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI). In 1979, Swierzy was appointed Chairman of the International Poster Biennale in Warsaw. The event, organized every two years by the Poster Museum in Wilanow, was founded in 1966 due to the initiative of the Polish poster school representatives. It was the first biennale in the world devoted to the poster art.
The excellent painting expertise of Waldemar Swierzy brought about works of vast artistic and emotional value. His personal development as an artist is tied to evolution of the entire Polish poster art.
The incredible diligence of the artist resulted in a remarkable output of works – nowadays he counts about two thousand posters in his portfolio. They are mainly posters devoted to culture, such as theatre, film, music and circus. However, we can also find works promoting sports and dealing with social issues. A lot of his artwork became worldwide classics. Since the very beginning, despite conceptual changes, his style has shown unique features based on vivid colors and a simple, straight message. One of the main vital motifs in Swierzy’s posters is portrait. In 2006, the artist decided to repaint the portraits of the Polish Kings.
Waldemar Swierzy’s works can be found at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, Kunstbibliothek in Berlin, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the National Museum in Poznan, the Poster Museum in Wilanow and many other museums worldwide.