Year of Publication

2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Thesis

College

Fine Arts

Department

Art

First Advisor

Dr. Anna Brzyski

Abstract

Recently Scholars of design history began to recognize the phenomenon of Socialist Modernism, the return to modernist aesthetics to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during the thaw, the disavowal of Stalinist policies by Nikita Khrushchev after the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party in February of 1956 and the resulting turn away from Socialist Realism, a historicist method in architecture that expressed socialist values, which the Stalinist favored. Scholars of art and design argued that Socialist Modernism in Poland constituted an affirmation of the party’s authority and that of the political system because designers who practiced it focused on abstract form and technological experiments. Unlike the modernism of the early 20th century, which followed a utopian ideology to ensure universal well being through art and design, it focused on the aesthetics of elementary form. However, based on this research, I investigated the journal Projekt of the main state-sponsored publisher in the years, 1956-1970. I have found that its contributors practiced a pragmatic modernism. Although they focused on technological experiments and utilized abstract form, failing to engage in politics, the designers that surrounded Projekt attempted to create user center design that fostered the well being of man, avant-garde values that the 1920s and 1930s functional modernist groups of Central and Eastern advocated. Therefore, following a period of Socialist Realism (1948-1956) in Poland, Projekt advocated for avant-garde values in design while ignoring the political situation, therefore fulfilling a pragmatic site in which it tolerated the authoritarian party, but argued for user based, socially conscious design that connected it to like minded designers in the west.

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