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Display showcases aesthetics of consumerism in socialism

Ljubljana, 15 December - A selection of Slovenian and Hungarian advertising and film posters from the 1960s and 1970s will be put on show at the Balassi Institute in Ljubljana tonight at an exhibition themed Aesthetics of Consumerism in Socialism.

Ljubljana
The Balassi Institute, the cultural centre of the Hungarian Embassy in Ljubljana.
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

According to curator Cvetka Požar, advertising posters had not become a common feature in the streets in Slovenia and Hungary until the 1960s. The main reason for greater presence of posters in the public space was a change in the socio-political situation.

At the time, Hungary developed a variation of communism with elements of market economy. Posters were a medium which offered greater freedom because the establishment did not take particular interest in this field. Street posters were thus the only form of visual arts with a western flavour.

Unlike in Slovenia, advertising in Hungary was centralised, run from the state enterprise Magyar Hirdeto or Mahir with designers such as Istvan Bakos, Arpad Darvas, György Kemeny, György Kolozsvary, Gyula Konkoly and Vilmos Kovacs.

Their posters feature vivid and contrasting colours; playful, witty and original drawings; stylised, friendly but grotesque images, and decorative letters, which are often drawn by hand.

The art in Yugoslavia and Slovenia at the time was defined by the local version of self-managing socialism, and calls for economic reforms. In the 1970s, Slovenia was shifting into manufacturing and production of consumer goods.

Slovenian companies and film production firms commissioned posters themselves and 1973 saw the birth of the first independent design and marketing studio in Slovenia. Studio marketing Delo engaged in comprehensive advertising campaigns.

The studio's designers Jani Bavčer, Egon Bavčer, Zdravko Papič and others created a number of successful advertising campaigns for leading Slovenian and Yugoslav companies and state institutions, campaigns that were also received well with consumers.

Advertising posters were also designed by Bronislav Fajon, Oskar Kogoj, Janez Suhadolc, Judita Skalar, Peter Skalar, Harald Draušbaher and Nino Kovačević. Their posters are distinguished by well-measured use of typography and clear-cut photographic composition.

Hungary boasts much larger film poster production than Slovenia because Hungarian designers produced posters not only for domestic films but also for the foreign ones, while in Slovenia foreign ones were mainly linguistically adjusted.

The exhibition at the cultural centre of the Hungarian Embassy is running until 23 February.

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© STA, 2017