Waldemar Swierzy

 Innovative—and Often Controversial

 

View the Collection

 Full of joy of life, humor, and optimism.

One of the most prolific artists of his generation, Waldemar Swierzy’s innovative—and often controversial—artwork captured the world’s attention and cast him at the center of an exciting, evolving graphic arts movement that began in Europe and spread across the globe over the last fifty years.

Swierzy graduated from the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts in 1952. His early work was created for cultural and public events – film, theatre, circuses and music performances. Promoters demanded eye-catching designs for advertisements, and Swierzy’s bold, vibrant style earned him an international reputation. His awards included the Grand Prix Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris; Hollywood Reporters Poster Awards; Gold Medal International Biennial of Posters, Poland; 1st prize at the 2nd International Biennial of Posters, Finland; Gold and Bronze Medal at the International Jazz Salon “Jazzpo”; and the Gold Medal at the Polish Poster Biennial, Poland.

As his status grew, Swierzy won the freedom to choose his own subjects, focusing on hard-edged American living. He painted broad-shouldered gangsters and gamblers with defiant nonchalance, and produced portraits of jazz greats from Benny Goodman to Miles Davis. Swierzy worked with S2 editions lithography atelier in the Las Vegas Arts District and created his most American body of work – a series of widely-admired and collected limited edition, hand-signed lithographs. He was also recognized by the Hollywood Reporter for his posters for The Promised Land and The Dogs of War.

In 2005, Jack Gallery launched its High Stakes Art Collection at the World Series of Poker Tournament in Las Vegas, with Swierzy’s images forming a cornerstone of the collection. Titles including “Full House” and “The Strip” capture the world of notorious gangsters, famous jazz musicians, and high-pitched backroom poker matches.

Swierzy’s artwork has been shown internationally with the Smithsonian Institute’s Traveling Exhibitions, Warsaw’s Muzeum Miejski Wroczawia, Galeria Grafki, and the Galeria Lenia Muzeum Hadwislandskiego Kazimierz Polny. Jack Gallery organized the ground-breaking exhibition Waldemar Swierzy: Paintings, Hand-Signed Lithographs and Posters from the Polish Graphic Movement, the first comprehensive showing of his artwork in the United States. In 1992, the government of Poland issued a postage stamp to honor one of his Cyrk posters.

Swierzy was a professor of the University of Fine Arts and the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw until his death in 2013.

Known for their painterly quality, technique and composition, as well as their originality and sense of spontaneity, “Swierzy’s works are always fresh, easy and entertaining,” wrote fellow artist Niklaus Troxler in the book, Swierzy. “They are full of a joy of life, humor, and optimism.”

Waldemar Swierzy. Photographer, date unknown.