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April 2024


On April 27th, an exhibition including works by Jan Sawka will open at the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Culver City, CA. The exhibition titled "Undercurrents I: Stories, Symbols, and Sounds" is co-curated by Isotta Poggi of the Getty Research Institute and includes Jan Sawka's "Invasion," a sequential artwork from the collection of the Wende. This exhibition runs through September 15th.

March 2023


Currently on View: The District Museum of Suwalki is featuring an exhibition on the collaboration between the poet Leszek Aleksander Moczulski and three artists, including Jan Sawka. This exhibition will be on view into July 2023. The exhibition features Jan Sawka's illustrations for Moczulski's "70 Views on the Way to Venice'' presented in one long band, highlighting the design of the work, which comprises a continuous sequence throughout the book. For more information, visit the website of the museum here.

February 2023


For CAA Scholars:   There will be two separate presentations at this year's College Art Association Annual Conference concerning the work of Jan Sawka, one by Frank Boyer, the other by Hanna Sawka.

In the academic press:   Scholars can look out for an article by Kathleen Cioffi titled, "Jan Sawka: Theater of Image and Metaphor" in the most recent issue of MIT Press's "Performing Arts Journal," available through academic databases, as well as for Peter Schwenger's "Jan Sawka's Screen Play" in the summer 2022 issue of CAA's "Art Journal," also available through academic databases.

September 2022


On View:   Jan Sawka artworks continue to be on display at the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Culver City. See news updates below for details.

On View:   On Saturday, Sept. 10th, the Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz will open a student-curated exhibition of prints from its collection titled "For Context: Prints from the Dorsky Collection." Students selected one of Jan Sawka's prints from the "Post-Card" series, which carries its own title, "The Broken Plate." Jan Sawka created this hand-colored etching in the early 1990's and its themes are the very early, fragmentary memories that we carry in ourselves. The Post-Cards folio was purchased by Samuel Dorsky himself, when he represented Jan Sawka at his gallery in NYC. This exhibition will be on-view through December 11th. Information about the show can be found here. here.

July 2022


In the media:   LACMA on Fire highlights the dramatic way in which Jan Sawka's "Soviet Flag" banner painting opens "The Medium is the Message" exhibition at the Wende Museum of the Cold War. Access the exhibition review titled "Cold War Simmers at the Wende" here.

June 2022


Special Event:  Please join Hanna Maria Sawka, who will appear on a panel titled "Art and Politics: Flags and Banners in Contemporary Art from Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine" on Sunday, June 12th at the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Culver City, CA. The panel is an event that is part of the programming of "The Medium is the Message" exhibition, which features artworks by Jan Sawka. Details concerning this free event are here.

March/April 2022


On view:  On April 10th, the Wende Museum of the Cold War, located in the Culver City neighborhood of Los Angeles, will open a show titled "The Medium is the Message." This show will combine authentic banners from the era of the Iron Curtain, as well as contemporary artists' responses concerning flags and banners.

An artist featured will be the late Polish and American artist Jan Sawka (1946-2012), was an artist belonging to the "1968 generation" of Polish artists and writers opposed to the communist government who was forced into exile in 1976. He grappled with the visual propaganda of repressive systems throughout his life, starting when, as a student, he created banners for protests against the communist state's "Anti-Zionist" campaign of 1968. Later, during the revolutions of 1989, Sawka created paintings that appropriated the propaganda-banner format to create expressions about the revolution and that also revealed the brutality of the oppressors. In 1992, the first Minister of Culture of a newly independent Poland, Marek Rostworowski, requested an installation from Sawka for the first presentation of a free Poland at a World Expo. Poland was bankrupt, having just gotten itself out of an exploitative by-proxy occupation. Jan Sawka had just recently worked with the Grateful Dead, having created a monumental art installation for the band's stadium concerts. He reached out to the band, who stepped in to provide sponsorship for the shipment of the installation to the World Expo in Seville, the largest gift ever from its charitable organization, the Rex Foundation. This was the same year that the band intervened and sponsored the Lithuanian National Basketball team at the Olympics, for similar reasons of a nation being bankrupt, but being able to represent itself as a free nation for the first time at a major world event.

The title of the installation Jan Sawka showed in the Polish Pavilion at the 1992 Expo in Seville is "My Europe." The installation consists mainly of large banner-paintings addressing the devastation of war and occupation, yet ending with a triptych of banners, over 8 feet in length each, portraying the hope of lands and people being able to rise from destruction and oppression. According to The New School's Jeffrey Goldfarb in his 2013 article titled "Jan Sawka: The Power of the Not So Powerless" for Public Seminar, "This is a piece that has the quality of a magnum opus. It is piece by a citizen of Europe from Poland, personally at the center of the great sufferings of his nation. It is not nationalist in any way. Rather, it is a mournful reflection on national experience on the European killing fields."

The exhibition at the Wende will show three major paintings from the installation, "The Polish Flag," which shows a war-torn landscape (all too familiar within the context of current events), "Invasion" (alternative title: "The Soviet Flag,") representing invasion and impending occupation, and "Awakenings," the triptych addressing hope and recovery. This will be the first time they are publicly displayed since 1992.

A link to the Wende's page for the exhibition can be found here.

April 2021


In the News:  On the Saturday before Easter (April 3rd), the main newspaper of the Swiss city of Winterthur ran a story that began on its front page about Jan Sawka Sr., the father of Jan Sawka. There is a connection here to the recent exhibition of Jan Sawka Jr. at the Dorsky Museum. Luckily for readers who aren't fluent in German, writer Dominik Landwehr posted an even more richly-illustrated English language version of the story to his blog. The link to the story in English is here. The complete article link, in downloadable format is here.

In the News:  Jan Sawka's "Jazz nad Odra" posters are included in this piece by Jason Persse for the Museum of Modern Art Magazine titled "Free Design: Jazz Posters that Swing" that can be accessed here.

September 2020


On view:  The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz reopened on September 12th and has extended the "The Place of Memory (The Memory of Place)' exhibition until November 22nd! For hours and Covid-19 visiting guidelines, please visit the museum website.

April 2020


Sat. May 2nd: Live, Online Joint Museum Symposium:   With the support of the Polish Cultural Institute New York, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz and the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (RAFFMA) at California State San Bernadino will present an online symposium with live Q&As on May 2, 2020. Speakers will include Ksenia Nouril, the Jensen Bryan Curator at The Print Center in Philadephia; Peter Schwenger, Resident Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism, University of Western Ontario; Tom Wolf, Professor of Art History at Bard College; Beth Wilson, Professor of Art History at SUNY New Paltz, Dr. Slawomir Magala, Professor Emeritus of Sociology of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, art critic and curator Peter Frank, Hanna Sawka (widow of the artist); and the exhibition curators. Free and open to all! Information about the symposium and how to join are here. (pdf)

3-D Virtual Tours of both museum shows are now available! For the Dorsky show, please click here. For the RAFFMA show, please click here.

Online exhibition access:  On account of the pandemic, the Samuel Dorsky Musem of Art at SUNY New Paltz and the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (RAFFMA) at California State San Bernadino, both of which are currently hosting Jan Sawka exhibitions, are temporarily closed. Both museums have made efforts to bring the shows to you remotely, through online experiences, as follows:
     - Please access installation shots, a PDF of the richly illustrated exhibition catalog, and the 3-D Tour of the Dorsky show at this link. (pdf)
     - An audio tour (with images) for the RAFFMA show is available at this link. (pdf)
     - Browse all artworks in the RAFFMA show here. (pdf)
     - Watch a gallery talk at RAFFMA by co-curators Hanna Maria Sawka and Frank Boyer here.

March 2020


Online Exhibition:  On account of Covid-19 closings, the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art at CSUSB has created multi-media access to the "Golden West? Jan Sawka's California Dream" availablel to anyone through this link.

In the press:  Hudson Valley Magazine "Remembers Hudson Valley Artist Jan Sawka." (pdf)

Art Review:  Claire Lambe reviews the Dorsky show for Roll Magazine. (pdf)

In the press:  The First News announces From East Coast to West Coast Jan Sawka's Art Continues to Impress as not one but TWO exhibitions open up." (pdf)

Podcast:  Interview from the Dorsky show opening night are featured in this podcast by Silver Hollow Audio!

In the press:  The Dorsky show featured in Ulster Publishing's "Almanac." (pdf)

In the press:  Exhibition announcements in Hyperallergic. (pdf)

View this video from the "Golden West? Jan Sawka's California Dream" exhibition at the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art, California State University San Bernardino.

February 2020


Academic Presentation:  Dr. Frank V. Boyer is presenting at the Annual College Art Association Conference in Chicago about Jan Sawka as part of a panel he is co-chairing.  The panel is titled "Silence, Exile, and Cunning:  The Art of Survival.  The panel takes place on Wednesday, February 12. For more information:  https://caa.confex.com/caa/2020/meetingapp.cgi/Session/5498?fbclid=IwAR3j0Bd8YvXQ2z5EFVvviqgTlC6Toaw6uodion3xRLX9OBisHOLRAv3P-5Y

Gallery Talk:  Co-curators Hanna Maria Sawka, MFA and Dr. Frank Boyer will give a curators' talk as part of programming for "Golden West:  Jan Sawka's California Dream" exhibition at the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art at California State University San Bernardino on Monday, February 3rd at 4:00PM.

The talk title is:  California Dreaming: Who's the Dreamer, What's the Dream?

Description:  The co-curators will illuminate how conditions in the Poland of Jan Sawka’s youth led to Sawka’s paradoxically skeptical and heartfelt vision of America.  Hanna Maria Sawka will relate her memories of a Californian who was prominent in the Sawka family’s life, Bob Schulberg, including his role in helping the family attain refuge in the United States.  Jan Sawka’s California Dream, as articulated in the exhibition, shifted and developed under the impact of the direct encounter with American reality. Bob Schulberg was an important part of that direct encounter, sharing Sawka’s critical sense of the absurd.  This talk will explore the complexities of the California Dream, as it appears in Jan Sawka’s art, including the increasingly universal and problematic themes of the negative impact of over-commodification and market mentality, and the loneliness and isolation within a seeming “paradise.”  Event flyer is here (pdf).

In the news:  Lynn Woods writes for Chronogram about the upcoming exhibition "Jan Sawka: The Place of Memory (The Memory of Place)" at the The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz.  Link to article is here (pdf).

Reminder:  The opening reception for the "Jan Sawka: The Place of Memory (The Memory of Place)" at the The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz takes place on Saturday, February 8th at 5:00PM. Free and open to the public.  For more information about this show, go to this link (pdf).

January 2020


Announcing two museum exhibitions of Jan Sawka opening in February 2020:

"Golden West? Jan Sawka's California Dream"
The Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art at California State San Bernardino
Curators: Dr. Frank Boyer and Hanna Maria Sawka, MFA
Opening Preview: Saturday, February 1st, 2020
On view from Feb. 3, 2020 to May 9, 2020

Description:  This exhibition's themes will present how Jan Sawka envisioned the American West as a land of problematic promise, from his visions prior to exile from Poland, to his experience of Los Angeles while exhibiting there during the 1970's and early 1980's. Of note will be works from the collection of the late Robert Schulberg, a close friend of Sawka's who was instrumental in helping the Sawka family come to the United States. The themes of the artworks in the Schulberg collection include critiques and explorations of the ambiguity of the "dream" of America and California in particular. This exhibition of paintings and works on paper includes work from the Schulberg collection and from the Jan Sawka Estate and it includes artworks that were exhibited in Los Angeles in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

Support for this exhibition is being provided by the Polish Cultural Institute, NY and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles.

"Jan Sawka: The Place of Memory (The Memory of Place)"
The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz in 2020
Curators: Dr. Frank Boyer and Hanna Maria Sawka, MFA
The Morgan Anderson and Howard Greenberg Galleries
Sat. February 8, 2020 - July 12, 2020

Description:   This exhibition is made up of works that illuminate two aspects of Jan Sawka's practice, his fascination with human consciousness, in this case, with memory, and his interest in place, and the places through which a human life passes. Jan Sawka’s working method and artworks are truly visionary, in the sense that he always worked from mental images. Every work he did is open to his thoughts, his emotions, his mental associations, and, above all to memory. Thus, the show includes works that illuminate his visual explorations of the phenomenon of memory, works whose subject matter is the landscape of the Mid-Hudson Valley, and works that were created in his High Falls studio that are based in the memories of places that he “passed through.” Many of these images express a deep empathy and the sense of loss that only exile can bring, leavened by an expansive sense of the beauty that art and nature make available to human beings.

This show is being made possible by support from the Polish Cultural Institute and the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union.

September 2019


Upcoming Exhibition:  "Jan Sawka: The Place of Memory (The Memory of Place)" will open at The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz in 2020. Curators: Dr. Frank Boyer and Hanna Maria Sawka, the exhibition will be presented at The Morgan Anderson and Howard Greenberg Galleries. The exhibition will run from Sat. February 8, 2020 - July 12, 2020 (pdf).

This exhibition is made up of works that illuminate two aspects of Jan Sawka's practice, his fascination with human consciousness, in this case, with memory, and his interest in place, and the places through which a human life passes. Jan Sawka’s working method and artworks are truly visionary, in the sense that he always worked from mental images. Every work he did is open to his thoughts, his emotions, his mental associations, and, above all to memory. Thus, the show includes works that illuminate his visual explorations of the phenomenon of memory, works whose subject matter is the landscape of the Mid-Hudson Valley, and works that were created in his High Falls studio that are based in the memories of places that he “passed through.” Many of these images express a deep empathy and the sense of loss that only exile can bring, leavened by an expansive sense of the beauty that art and nature make available to human beings.

This show is being made possible by support from the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union.

November 2018


In the news:  The First News' Jacek Borowski reflects on Jan Sawka in an article published to memorialize the artist's birthday (pdf).

August 2018


In the news:  In June, Hudson Valley Magazine published an article by Joan MacDonald titled "A High Falls Filmmaker Preserves Her Father's Legacy (pdf).

In the news:   Artepreneur's "Artists to Watch" features article by Audra Lambert titled Immigrant Artist Jan Sawka, Global Artist (pdf).

November 2017


In the news:  Grateful Dead/Jan Sawka auction makes front page news in the Sunday LA Times Art & Books section. Link to image of the print version here, link to online version here (Print Version).

In the news:  An in-depth piece about the story behind the Jan Sawka/Grateful Dead collaboration in the Poughkeepsie Journal, link here (pdf).

In the news:  Rolling Stone Magazine covers the upcoming Grateful Dead/Jan Sawka auction, illustrated with photos of Sawka's 1989 installation for the band:  http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/rare-grateful-dead-items-from-bands-attorney-go-to-auction-w511576 (pdf).

In the news:  USA Today covers the Grateful Dead/Jan Sawka auction that is opening to bidding on Nov. 22. The article includes video where one can view several pieces by Jan Sawka:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/11/11/rare-grateful-dead-memorabilia-auctioned-reno/854689001/ (pdf).

October 2017


In the press: Steven Heller writes about Jan Sawka's fictional characters (in the sense of letter and writing as a visual form) in this richly illustrated piece for his Print Magazine's 20th Century Typographers: http://www.printmag.com/daily-heller/jan-sawkas-characters/ (pdf).

September 2017


Upcoming auction:   On November 18th, Stremmel Auctions in Reno, NV will auction Grateful Dead memorabilia and art by the acclaimed late artist Jan Sawka from the collection of the late Hal Kant and his widow Jesse. Known as the “Czar,” Hal Kant was the Grateful Dead’s lawyer. He created the band’s unique and successful business model. Avid art collectors, the Kants created a museum-class collection that included works from diverse artists, including Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon. They began collecting the art by Jan Sawka after Leonard Cohen introduced the work to Jerry Garcia in the late 1970’s, when Sawka was exhibiting in Los Angeles. The Jan Sawka artworks come with a unique provenance of patronage by music industry icons. Among the artworks Hal and his wife Jesse acquired was a full-sized, working phone booth painting/sculpture, an artwork about the experiences and conversations that take place in a phone booth. When visiting the Kant home, Jerry Garcia enjoyed placing calls from “Phone Booth.” Jan Sawka did not know about these fans of his art until 1988, when Hal contacted him for an artwork commission that could fulfil Jerry Garcia’s wish to “humanize the stadium concert environment.” Jerry Garcia granted Jan Sawka creative freedom for the commission. The artist conceived a vibrant installation consisting of 52 air-brushed banners depicting natural landscapes, as well as the sun crossing the sky. This 10-story tall installation accompanied the 25th anniversary tour of the band in 1989, continuing to tour for over two years.

Afterwards, Jerry Garcia would continue patronage of the artist, arranging the sponsorship of an installation by Jan Sawka that represented a newly-freed Poland at the 1992 World Expo in Seville, which was the largest known grant ever given by the Grateful Dead, as well as other support. Jan Sawka continued to develop his artistic career until his death in 2012. Obituaries appeared in the NY Times, LA Times, ArtNews, Art Forum and other publications around the world, which noted that Jan Sawka had over 70 individual exhibitions during his life and that his artworks are in over 60 museum collections around the world, including New York City’s MoMA, The National Museums of Poland, Centre Pompidou in France, and many others. During his lifetime, Sawka won awards for artistic accomplishments ranging from painting, graphic design to multimedia and architecture, including France’s “Oscar de la Peinture (Painting Oscar)” Italy’s Lorenzo di Magnifico Medal in Multimedia, Japan’s Cultural Agency Award, and the American Institute of Architect’s Excellence in Architecture Award.

The November 18th auction represents a rare opportunity to acquire works with a unique and significant provenance. Works include several large paintings from the 1980’s, 2 folios of prints whose sister works are in significant collections such as the Library of Congress in Washington, DC and the National Museum of Poland, an original Grateful Dead poster design, as well as 8 banners from the 1989 installation that Jan Sawka designed for the band’s 25th anniversary.

For more information, including address, preview and auction times, please visit stremmelauctions.com.

For a detailed article about the 1989 art installation for the Grateful Dead, click here.

August 2017


In the press:  Chronogram Magazine and the Poughkeepsie Journal have published articles about the 5th Memorial Multimedia Screening at the Rosendale Theater. Article links are here and here.

Upcoming event:  Please join us at the 5-Year Memorial Multimedia screening, details are just below, in the July update.

July 2017


Event and exhibition opening:  John Barry has written an article that features a video-peek into the on-going production of a documentary film about Jan Sawka, which can be seen at this link.

Upcoming event:  5th Year Memorial Jan Sawka Multimedia Screening at the Rosendale Theater

Where: The Rosendale Theater, 408 Main Street, Rosendale, NY 12472 When: Wednesday, August 9th at 7:15PM

Tickets $10 for public, $8 for members of the Rosendale Theater

Program features a live, post-screening Q&A.

During his life, Jan Sawka created many forms of sequential art, including pieces that were animated or meant for projection. To celebrate the life of the artist, the Jan Sawka Artist Estate will present a selection of sequential art and multimedia at the Rosendale Theater, which was a venue frequented by the artist. Projected artwork selections run from 2 to 20 minutes each. Multimedia selections will include a 20-minute section of “The Voyage,” which was a piece Sawka began developing for collaboration with Jerry Garcia, after he designed a monumental installation for the Grateful Dead’s 25th anniversary tour in 1989. In 2003, Jan Sawka won a Gold Medal at the 2003 Florence Biennial of Contemporary Art for a 17-minute version of “The Voyage.” The current pilot is accompanied by music of the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart. Media in the program will include videos from other collaborations, as well as some previews into the documentary film, “The Voyages of Jan Sawka,” a film that is currently in production. The entire program will run for 75 minutes and it will be followed with a Q&A with the artist’s widow, Hanka Sawka and daughter Hanna Maria Sawka, who is the filmmaker creating the new documentary film. On display in the lobby of the Rosendale Theater will be illustrated panels and posters by the artist.

April 2017


Event and exhibition opening:  "The Voyages of Jan Sawka” - Exhibition and documentary film kickoff event.

Time:  Friday, April 7th, 5-9PM. At 6:30, filmmaker Hanna Maria Sawka will show a sneak-peek of materials from the film. The exhibition will be continue to be on-view until early June.

Place:  Gomen-Kudasai Restaurant, 232 Main Street, New Paltz, NY 12561

Details: To kick off the start of production of a new feature-length documentary film about Jan Sawka, come view and exhibition and enjoy a sneak-peek of footage from the upcoming film, which will be presented at 7:00 PM. There will also be a few select items for a silent auction of the artist’s work, as well as Jan Sawka posters and reproductions on sale. All proceeds go to the production of the forthcoming film. Join the Facebook event here.

In the media:

Thursday, April 6th: Tune into WDST Radio Woodstock at 9:15 AM EST to listen to filmmaker Hanna Maria Sawka talk about the film. For listeners outside of the Hudson Valley, listen live at this link: http://www.radiowoodstock.com/

November 2016


On air:  Film director Hanna Sawka will be interviewed live about the upcoming documentary about Jan Sawka on the "Tales from the Golden Road" talk show on Sunday, November 13 at 4 pm Eastern/1 pm Pacific, with rebroadcasts on Monday at 9 am ET/6 am PT, and Wednesday at 1 am ET/10 pm (Tuesday night) PT, on SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel(23).

Upcoming exhibition and event:  "The Voyages of Jan Sawka” - Exhibition and documentary film kickoff event - one day only.

Time:  Thursday, November 17th. The exhibition will be on-view from 4-9PM, with announcements and a screening at 7PM.

Place:  3Squared Gallery, 157 W. 24th Street (b/t 6th and 7th Avenue), New York City, NY 10011

Details:  To kick off the start of production of a new feature-length documentary film about Jan Sawka, come view and exhibition and enjoy a sneak-peek of footage from the upcoming film, which will be presented at 7:00 PM. There will also be a few select items for a silent auction of the artist’s work, as well as Jan Sawka posters and reproductions on sale. All proceeds go to the production of the forthcoming film. Join the Facebook event here.

May 2016


On view:  The Jan Sawka Estate and The Wired Gallery are opening a show called "Jan Sawka in High Falls" on Saturday, May 21st at the High Falls Emporium at 10 Old Route 213, High Falls, NY 12440. The exhibition opens at 4PM.

The gallery at the High Falls Emporium is currently open on weekends, from 11AM - 4PM. There will an additional day when the gallery is open on Friday, June 3rd, from 10-3PM.

In the press:  The Hudson Valley arts/entertainment "Almanac Weekly" features a story about the "Jan Sawka in High Falls" show by Jeremiah Horrigan titled "Exile on Old Route 213" (pdf).

October 2015


IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Permission and clearance for image use and reproduction of Jan Sawka artworks is now managed by the Artists Rights Society (ARS). Please contact ARS directly regarding image licensing, use, clearance and permission here.

Currently on view:  A painting by Jan Sawka is currently on view as part of the "Reading Objects 2015: Responses to the Museum's Collection" exhibition at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in New Paltz, NY.

Currently on view:  Two posters by Jan Sawka are currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in the "Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980" exhibition.

In the press:  Volume 71 of "Pismo Artystyczne Format" (Format, A Magazine of the Arts), a publication of the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw, Poland has published an article titled "Jan Sawka (1946–2012) in the Context of an Epoch" by Dr. Slawomir Magala, a professor of cross-cultural management at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. This article deals with the omission of Jan Sawka's achievements by communist-era Polish art and cultural institutions, as well as some surprising continuations of this legacy.

September 2015


Opening:  The opening reception for "Reading Objects 2015: Responses to the Museum's Collection" at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art will take place on Saturday, September 12, 5-7 pm. A painting by Jan Sawka from the SDMA will be on display in this exhibition.

May 2015


In the press:  Jan Sawka is amongst the 18 most important graphic designers of the 20th century, according to Cutlure.pl, a publication of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, an organization of the Polish government. Article can be accessed here (pdf). This article announces the release of a comprehensive album regarding Polish graphic design, edited by Jacek Mrowczyk and published by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

"Besides the mild, narcotic aesthetics, Sawka's posters were virulent. The seemingly trivial subjects hid the – often scary – interpretations of the situation of a citizen of a totalitarian country." - Sylwia Gizka , VeryGraphic. Polish Designers of the 20th Century, 2015.

The poster by Jan Sawka featured in this article is called "Exodus," from 1974. Jan Sawka created it for a play by the poet L.A. Moczulski that was staged at the STU Theater in Krakow. Jan Sawka also created the set and other graphic elements, as well as masterminding the stage-within-a-stage mis-en-scene. The play, by a poet of the political opposition, showed two paths within an oppressive system - either escape (exodus) or to become like the person pictured within this poster, a burnt-out match.

This poster is in major museum collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and it is known all over the world.

March 2015


In the news:  The Rex Foundation, which is the Grateful Dead's charitable organization, has published an article that is a look back at Jan Sawka's collaboration with the band and a look forward for "The Voyage," his final work. Article here (pdf).

Fundraiser:  The Sawka family is conducting a crowd-funding campaign to raise funds to produce "The Voyage." This is also an opportunity to get some Jan Sawka posters and prints. View the campaign here.

Estate news:  We are happy to share that future exhibitions are currently being organized and we will share details as soon as possible. Work also continues on cataloging the work.

We would like to thank supporters of the conference fundraiser conducted on Indiegogo for making this possible.

November 2014


Earlier this month, Hanna M. Sawka, the daughter of Jan Sawka, presented "Counter-Cultural Crossroads: Jan Sawka's Set for the Grateful Dead" as part of the Fine Arts panel chaired by Philip Eliasoph of Fairfield University at the "So Many Roads: The World in the Grateful Dead" (pdf) academic conference. Her presentation was followed by a presentation by Dr. Frank V. Boyer of the State University of New York titled, "The Dead Set as Exemplary Collaboration."

We would like to thank supporters of the conference fundraiser conducted on Indiegogo for making this possible.

October 2014


Fundraiser:  Only until November 17, 2014, it is possible to purchase rare Jan Sawka posters that were never available for sale. Poster fundraiser is available at this link.

Next month, Hanna M. Sawka will speak at the So Many Roads: The World in the Grateful Dead conference at San Jose State University, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, California. She will speak on Friday, Nov. 7th during a panel that starts at 9AM.  Conference details and registration can be accessed here: http://www.sjsu.edu/somanyroads (pdf).

A preview of Ms. Sawka's presentation topics can be found on the Jan Sawka Legacy Blog: http://jansawka.com/blog

August 2014


This news update is being posted on August 9, 2014, the two-year anniversary of the artists's passing.  To commemorate Jan Sawka, we are launching the Jan Sawka Legacy Blog, which will function as a forum and resource to deepen the understanding of Jan Sawka's work.  The first post is titled "Deconstructing Totalitarian Graphics:  Jan Sawka's Grateful Dead set as an Expression of Liberation."  The blog will feature bi-monthly articles by guests and members of the Sawka family and it is part of ongoing efforts to document the legacy of Jan Sawka.

In the press:  Also released on August 9, 2014, a post about Jan Sawka's political posters and the Solidarity movement on the British-based ArtLark blog, here (pdf).

In the press:  In the press: In this article commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival by John Barry of the Poughkeepsie Journal, you can read about Jan Sawka's spiritual and direct connections with the American counter-culture movement, here (pdf).

May 2014


Opening soon in Nashville, TN, USA:  The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery is featuring a poster by Jan Sawka in the "Curiouser and Curiouser�Avant-garde Polish Theatre Posters from the 1970s" exhibition that will run from June 19 - August 28.  For details, visit:  http://www.vanderbilt.edu/gallery/season.php (pdf).

Estate update:  Other exhibitions are currently being organized, please check back or follow the work of Jan Sawka on Facebook for announcements.  Link here:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jan-Sawka/127482063967084
Work continues on the catalogue raisonee, as well as updates to the website.

April 2014


In the online press:  A beautifully illustrated article about Jan Sawka's design work (in English) by art historian and curator Magdalena Czubinska of the National Museum in Krakow, Poland is available for free download (first 5000 downloads) from the Polish design publication "2 + 3D" at this link:  http://digital.2plus3d.pl/

In academia:  Jan Sawka representing the philosophical idea of the artist as maker - a blog post by Hofstra University philosophy professor Eduardo Duarte, with the first 5 minutes of video offering a reflection on the artist:  http://duartebeinglearning.blogspot.com/2014/03/eduardo-m-duarte-hofstra-u-being-20.html  (pdf)

Estate update:  Work has commenced on the catalogue raisonn� of the work of Jan Sawka.At this project's helm is Dr. Frank V. Boyer.

Looking for more?  If you are on social media, we recommend following Jan Sawka on Facebook to receive weekly images, quotes and information about the artist.  This is also a great way to get directly in touch with the estate.

February 2014


Special film screening event in NYC:  Thursday, Feb. 13th at 6:30PM, at the Tribeca Film Center, Polish Filmmakers NYC presents a screening of "Behind the Poster," Marcin Latallo's look at the phenomenon of the Polish School of the Poster, a movement of which Jan Sawka was a young member, already in his 20's.  Jan Sawka's work is touched upon in this film, as well as work by many other great designers. Here is a review and announcement of the film by Ela Bittencourt in Slant Magazine:

http://www.slantmagazine.com/house/2014/11/behind-the-poster-at-polish-filmmakers-nyc (pdf)

Concluding the Year 2013


The Sawka Family would like to wish you and yours all the best in this holiday season, as well as plenty of health and happiness in the New Year.

2013 Review:  Three significant exhibitions marked this year.  Early in 2013, "Personal Equilibrium:  The Personal Journals of Jan Sawka" was extended, due to popularity, into February at the Stevenson Library at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson.  "Personal Equilibrium" was much noted by the Hudson Valley public and press.  Shortly afterwards, work commenced on a memorial show at the National Museum in Krakow, Poland, the museum where one of Jan Sawka's most seminal touring exhibitions had taken place two decades before, "The Returns."  In May, "Jan Sawka. 1945-2012" opened at the National Museum in Krakow, the memorial exhibition drawing from the collection of the museum itself.  This show drew major media attention throughout Poland and the international Polish community.  The show ran through September 1st.  On September 12, the dynamic not-for-profit art center Gallery Aferro in Newark, NJ opened "Reflections on Everyman: The Work of Jan Sawka."  This exhibition was accompanied by additional events, such as screenings of new media, as well as a symposium co-organized by the nearby Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University.  This exhibition and the symposium enjoyed support from the Polish Cultural Institute, New York, The Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union, the Polish American Business Club, The Polish National Tourism Office, the Newark Arts Council, and Rutgers University.

We are looking forward to 2014, with plans underway for several future exhibitions, as well as commencing work on a catalog raisonee of Jan Sawka's oeuvre, which will dovetail with efforts to organize and archive the Jan Sawka's work.  Work is also underway on a documentary film and efforts continue on the production of The Voyage.

None of the efforts of 2013 would be possible without the support of friends and appreciators of the art of Jan Sawka.  We are deeply grateful for this support.

December 2013


In academia:  Professor Jeffrey Goldfarb of the New School for Social Research, who presented at the "Jan Sawka:  The Artist's Role in Changing the World" symposium that took place at the Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University on Nov. 16, 2013, has placed a written adaptation of his presentation on the New School's "Public Seminar" website, which is a very interesting online resource, described in this way:

"We work in the tradition of critical scholarship and public engagement of the original New School for Social Research (1919) and its University in Exile (1933).  We seek to open the discussion of experts to broader publics, in the United States, and crucially far beyond, in the tradition of Charles Beard, John Dewey, Thorstein Veblen, Emil Lederer, Max Wertheimer, Frieda Wunderlich, Hans Speier, Leo Strauss and Hannah Arendt.  
Public Seminar is an extension of The New School�s legendary �General Seminar,� founded by the original exile scholars. Through it, we are constituting a public seminar for the 21st century."

Link to Dr. Goldfarb's piece:

http://www.publicseminar.org/2013/12/jan-sawka-the-power-of-the-not-so-powerless/#.UqKYTeIUbnh (pdf)

Invitation:  There is only one week left of the "Reflections on Everyman: The Work of Jan Sawka" exhibition at Gallery Aferro on 73 Market Street, Newark, NJ. This has been a fascinating and very dynamic three months.  The show engaged literally thousands of people and has created discussions, analyses and exchanges that have been not only interesting, but are opening up new areas of understanding of the art of Jan Sawka.  
The Jan Sawka Estate would like to warmly invite you to a closing reception, which, as befits a community art center, will take the form of a potluck on the last day of the show.  It takes place on Saturday, December 14, from 2-7PM at Gallery Aferro, 73 Market Street, Newark, NJ.

November 2013


Jan sawka: The Artist's Role in Changing The World


Event:  On Tuesday, November 19th, the Polish Consulate in New York will host a gala reception to benefit the Jan Karski Educational Foundation.  The Jan Sawka Estate has donated a rare, vintage Jan Sawka poster, which is a part of the permanent collection of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN, will be honored at this gala.  Poster and event details can be seen here:  

http://www.jankarski.net/en/news-and-events/silent-auction-items/jan-sawka-poster.html (pdf)

http://www.jankarski.net/en/news-and-events/upcoming-events/the-first-jan-karski-educational-foundation-gala-celebration.html (pdf)

Jan sawka: The Artist's Role in Changing The World

Special Event:  

Jan Sawka:  The Artist�s Role in Changing the World

The Paul Robeson Galleries, 350 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Newark, NJ 07102
Saturday, November 16, 2013, Noon � 5:00PM
Details on the website of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America:  http://www.piasa.org/news.html (pdf)

Gallery Aferro and the Paul Robeson Galleries of Rutgers University present a symposium examining the case of the late Polish American artist Jan Sawka and the meaning of his work in a socio-political context.

Cynthia Nadelman, writer and curator, contributing editor for ArtNews of 25 years
Jeffrey Goldfarb, Michael E. Gellert Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research
Frank Boyer, Doctor of Arts, teaches art-related subjects at SUNY-New Paltz and SUNY-Ulster, and in addition to poetry, fiction, and drama, writes art theory and cultural criticism.

Currently On View:  "Reflections on Everyman: The Work of Jan Sawka" continues at Gallery Aferro, 73 Market Street, Newark, NJ. The gallery is open from Thurs - Sat noon - 6PM, or by appointment via info@aferro.org (put "Jan Sawka" in subject heading, please). Please note that many of the artworks at this exhibition are for sale. Sales will benefit Gallery Aferro, a vibrant, not-for-profit community-centered arts organization, as well as the archival, curatorial and academic activities of the Jan Sawka Estate.

October 2013

Special Event:  A Preview of Jan Sawka's The Voyage at Gallery Aferro, 73 Market Street, Newark, NJ (a few blocks from the PATH station), Saturday, October 19th at 7:30PM, admission is free.

Presenting a 24-minute preview of Jan Sawka�s The Voyage, a critically acclaimed performance of projected artworks with the music of the Mickey Hart Band.  This preview will be followed by a Q&A with producer and director Hanna Maria Sawka, who is also the late artist�s daughter.  Gallery Aferro is currently hosting a large exhibition of Jan Sawka's paintings, prints and sculptures, titled "Reflections on Everyman:  The Work of Jan Sawka."  The screening will take place upstairs, in the Media Room.

Currently in development, Jan Sawka�s The Voyage is a 90-minute performance by the late, internationally acclaimed artist Jan Sawka.  This powerful visual journey, consisting of 1200 hand-made paintings symbolically represents an individual life as well as the greater story of humankind.  Every image used in The Voyage is a fine-art piece by Jan Sawka, who created a visual narrative sequence.  A pilot of Jan Sawka�s The Voyage with music and video editing by Czeslaw Niemen was awarded a Gold Medal in Multimedia at the 2003 International Florence Biennial of Contemporary Art.  In 1989, Jan Sawka designed the historic, 10-story tall fine-art set for the 25th anniversary tour of the Grateful Dead, of which Mickey Hart was an original member.

For more information on The Voyage, please see voyageproduction.com

September 2013

Currently on view:  Reflections on Everyman: The Work of Jan Sawka
To view photographs from the recent opening reception, click here.

In the News (in Polish):  Artykul na temat wystawy "Reflections on Everyman" na portalu O.pl, Polski Portal Kulturalny, kliknij tutaj (pdf).

In the news:  In Print Magazine's "Weekend Heller," Steven Heller announces "Jan Sawka, Out of Exile." See it here (pdf).

Video online:  The National Museum in Krakow, Poland posted a 4-minute video from the May opening of "Jan Sawka. 1946- 2012." 

August 2013

National Museum in Krakow, with Jan Sawka

Opening soon:

Reflections on Everyman: The Work of Jan Sawka

September 12 – December 14, 2013

Curated by Evonne M. Davis and Hanna Maria Sawka

Opening Reception September 12, 7-10 PM

New Media Screening October 12, 7 PM

Closing Reception December 14, details TBA

Newark, NJ: Gallery Aferro’s Main Gallery and New Media Room will feature a major retrospective celebrating the life and work of artist, expatriate, activist, architect and impossible-to-classify Jan Sawka (1946-2012). Sawka's body of work includes paintings, book arts, sculptures, engravings, editorial illustrations, architectural installations, monuments, new media and a 10-story stage set designed for the Grateful Dead.  Currently, a memorial exhibition of his work is on view at The National Museum in Krakow, Poland. Born in 1946 in Zabrze, Poland, his childhood overshadowed by his father's Stalin-era political imprisonment, by his 20’s Sawka had become the youngest member of the Polish Poster School.  Sawka’s portrayal in his art of the impact of totalitarianism on the individual led to his expulsion from Poland in 1976.  Having just won the “Oscar de la Peinture” in France, he was given a residency at the newly opened Pompidou Center in Paris.  In 1977, he arrived in New York with his wife and baby, four suitcases and a portfolio of artworks. Within a year, he became a prolific editorial illustrator for The New York Times. While producing paintings at his home studio, he designed posters and sets for the Jean Cocteau Repertory Theater, Harold Clurman Theater, and Samuel Beckett Theater, where he collaborated closely with Beckett.  By this time, he had built a gallery career in New York, Los Angeles and many other cities.  In 1981, when Martial Law was imposed in Poland, the AFL-CIO sold Sawka's Solidarity Poster in the millions to provide immediate support to the besieged Solidarity movement. In 1993, he created his first full multi-media spectacle in Japan. At the time of his death the artist was working on numerous projects. Sawka's works are in over 60 museums around the world and he had over 70 solo exhibitions. The exhibition will focus on Jan Sawka’s concern with the human condition in today’s world, with examples of his paintings, prints and sculptures.  As the late Professor James Beck of Columbia University wrote “He contemplates and dissects the social conditions of our moment – the absurdities of political states, the leadership, the courts, the universities – within the context of the individual caught in the labyrinth… such a condition is not differentiated from the absurdities of more human interaction, between lovers, husbands and wives.  The isolation is there too, perhaps even more so: the absence of communication, the uniformity, the blandness, the emptiness… Here too is the softened, approachable world of physical beauty, of delicacy, refinement and sensitivity.  These two struggle with one another… in Sawka’s irresistible art.”

This exhibition is presented in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute, and with support from the Polish American Business Club and the Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union.

Gallery Aferro is a nonprofit artist-originated organization serving a diverse community through the import and export of ideas.  The gallery is located at 73 Market St Newark NJ, and is open Thursday-Saturday 12:00-6PM and by appt, free of charge.


On view:  Today, the Poster Museum in Wilanow (Warsaw), as part of its "poster salon" event, began daily screenings of a video presentation about Jan Sawka (created by Hanna Maria Sawka).  Screenings daily until August 17th.

http://news.o.pl/2013/08/06/jan-sawka-projekty-hanna-maria-sawka-muzeum-plakatu-wilanow/ (pdf)

July 2013

Currently on view:  The "Jan Sawka. 1946-2012" exhibition is on view at the National Museum in Krakow, Poland until September 1, 2013.

In the press:   The cultural monthly magazine "Krakow" has published an article by Marek Soltysik about the exhibition currently on view at the National Museum in Krakow, Poland.  Article image can be viewed here.

In the press:   An article has come out in the Polish-language monthly "Architektura i Biznes" (Architecture and Business) by Krystyna Styrna-Bartkowiak.  Article can be seen here (pdf).

June 2013

On view:  The "Jan Sawka. 1946-2012" exhibition is on view at the National Museum in Krakow, Poland until September 1, 2013.

In the news:  On Saturday, June 8th, an interview with artist's widow Hanna Sawka about the Jan Sawka exhibition at the National Museum in Krakow will air on TVP Polonia at 4PM on the "Kulturalni PL" program.

May 2013

The facade of the National Museum in Krakow, with "Jan Sawka. 1946-2012" exhibition banner.

National Museum in Krakow, with Jan Sawka
Photo courtesy of Paul Solis-Cohen

In the news:  Interview in Zabrze Television (in Polish) with the Mayor of Zabrze Malgorzata Manka-Szulik,, Hanna Sawka and Professor Marian Oslislo:
(Wywiad w Telewizji Zabrze z Prezydentem Miasta Zabrze Malgorzata Manka-Szulik, Hanna Sawka i Profesor Marian Oslislo):

http://www.tvzabrze.eu/aktualnosci/publicystyka/gosc-telewizji-zabrze-malgorzata-manka-szulik-hanna-sawka-marian-oslislo,1,1,9592 (pdf)

In the news:  Interview with Hanna Sawka in Radio Krakow (in Polish):
Wywiad z Hanną Sawką w Radiu Kraków:

http://www.radiokrakow.pl/www/index.nsf/ID/JNOA-97ZKN7# (pdf)

In the press:  In the press: In Poland, the "Jan Sawka. 1946 - 2012" exhibition has appeared in many print and online publications, including the main national papers. Links to articles here:

http://www.rp.pl/artykul/9149,1013134.html (pdf)

http://wyborcza.pl/2029020,91446,13975091.html (pdf)

http://www.dziennikpolski24.pl/pl/aktualnosci/kultura/1275272-wiekszy-kawalek-swiata-wedlug-sawki.html (pdf)

http://fama.org.pl/jan-sawka-1946-2012-wystawa-w-muzeum-narodowym-w-krakowie/ (pdf)

http://wiadomosci.onet.pl/regionalne/krakow/wystawa-prac-jana-sawki-w-muzeum-narodowym,1,5525034,wiadomosc.html (pdf)

http://www.sztukpuk.art.pl/wydarzenia%202013_02/1275.html (pdf)

http://kultura.wp.pl/wid,15664708,wydarzenie.html?ticaid=110ab2 (pdf)

http://krakow.pl/polecamy/34861,186,komunikat,jan_sawka_w_muzeum_narodowym.html (pdf)

http://www.artinfo.pl/?pid=events&sp=list&id=18813&lng=1 (pdf)

http://dzieje.pl/kultura-i-sztuka/wystawa-prac-jana-sawki-w-muzeum-narodowym-w-krakowie (pdf)

http://www.tvp.pl/krakow/aktualnosci/kulturalne/wystawa-prac-jana-sawki-w-muzeum-narodowym/11196287 (pdf)

http://www.irka.com.pl/portal/News?news_id=17914 (pdf)

http://news.o.pl/2013/05/22/jan-sawka-1946-2012-mnk-krakow/ (pdf)


Opening in May:  An exhibition of paintings, drypoint engravings and multimedia entitled "Jan Sawka.  1946 - 2012" will open  at the main building of the National Museum in Krakow, Poland at 6PM on May 24th, 2013.  The Museum is located at al. 3 Maja 1, 30-062 Krak�w.  This exhibition is curated by Magdalena Czubinska and it will run until September 1, 2013.  A description of the show, together with images of artworks that will be shown, can be found here:  (English)  (po Polsku).  To plan a visit, click here.

Preview:  The National Museum show will feature an installation of banner paintings that was part of a performance from 1990 called "The Shere" that was performed at the MASC Performing Arts Center in Poughkeepsie, NY.  The banner paintings encompassed the performance space, within which live jazz music was played by Ed Summerlin, Charlie Knicely and Keith Teller.  The music was composed by the late Ed Summerlin.  The performance included Jan Sawka's multimedia projections as well.   Here is an image of the banners from "The Sphere:"  The National Museum show will also include the hand-painted drypoint engraving series called "Postcards."

Other news:  More Jan Sawka exhibitions are coming soon, including one opening this year in the United States.  Details will be announced as they are finalized. 

For more frequent updates and featured information and images from the life and career of Jan Sawka, please follow Jan Sawka on Facebook and Twitter.

April 2013

Opening in May:  An exhibition of paintings, drypoint engravings and multimedia entitled "Jan Sawka. 1946 - 2012" will open at the main building of the National Museum in Krakow, Poland at 6PM on Friday, May 24th, 2013.  The Museum is located at al. 3 Maja 1, 30-062 Kraków.  This exhibition is curated by Magdalena Czubinska and it will run until September 1, 2013.  A description of the show (in Polish) can be found here.  To plan a visit, please see the Museum's English language website here (location).

March 2013

In the press:  The February 2013 edition of the monthly cultural publication "Odra," which is published in Wroclaw, Poland, has an article (in Polish) where Jan Sawka's exile from Poland and the subsequent policy of censoring of his memory and legacy within Poland is the main part of a case study of policies toward political emigres.  The article is by Dr. Slawomir Magala of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.  Link to a PDF version of the file is here.

Coming soon:  In May, an exhibition of Jan Sawka’s drypoint engravings, banner paintings and multimedia will open in the main building of the Polish National Museum in Krakow, Poland.

On view:  The Wired Gallery in High Falls, NY will feature a Dedication Wall to Jan Sawka during its show opening on March 23rd.  More details coming soon.

February 2013

Coming Down:  The morning of Monday, February 11th is the last time the public can view "Personal Equilibrium" at Bard College's Stevenson Library.

In the press:  Trends Institute's Winter 2013 issue of "The Trends Journal" has been released and it includes a reproduction and information on Jan Sawka's design of the Peace Monument, Jerusalem, which was awarded the "Excellence in Architecture" award in 2011 from the American Institute of Architecture.  For those who wish to support the realization of this project, tax-deductible donations can be made here.

January 2013

Currently on view:  Due to popular demand, the "Personal Equilibrium" show at the Stevenson Library at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, has been extended to the end of January.  January hours are Mon-Thurs. 8:30-5PM, Fri. 8:30-5:00PM, Sat. Noon-5PM and Sun. Noon- 8PM.  The show is updated, with entirely different pages being currently on display.

In the press:  Ann Gibbons has written about "Personal Equilibrium" and other updates regarding the work of Jan Sawka in the Sunday, January 13th editionof the Daily Freeman (Ulster County).  The online article includes an interview with Hanka Sawka.  Click here for article and interview (pdf).

Coming soon:  Trends Institute's "The Trends Journal" will include a reproduction and information on Jan Sawka's design of the Peace Monument, Jerusalem, which was awarded the "Excellence in Architecture" award in 2011 from the American Institute of Architecture.  For those who wish to support the realization of this project, tax-deductible donations can be made here.

December 2012

Currently on view:  Until December 15, "Personal Equilibrium:  The Private Journals of Jan Sawka" at the Stevenson Library, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. This is the first time the fully illustrated journals are exhibited for the public.  The show is accessible during library hours, which can be found here.

In the news:  Lynn Woods' article "Jan Sawka: The Page Speaks" in the December issue of Chronogram Magazine.  Online article here (pdf).

November 2012

In the press:  In the winter issue of Green Door Magazine, "Remembering Jan Sawka," by Jennifer Farley, link to article here (pdf).  Print version hits newstands in December.

Currently on view:  "Personal Equilibrium:  The Private Journals of Jan Sawka" at the Stevenson Library, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.  This is the first time the fully illustrated journals are exhibited for the public.  Despite inclement weather, the show enjoyed a warm and well-attended reception on Nov. 7th.  The show continues to be on-view until December 15th and it is accessible during library hours, which can be found here.  Please note that the library is closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 22 and Friday, November 23rd, reopening at noon on Saturday, November 24th.

In the press:  The Polish design quarterly "2+3D" came out on November 7th with an extensive article in the Design History section entitled "Idealy mlodosci:  Jan Sawka" (Ideals of Youth: Jan Sawka).  The author is art historian Magdalena Czubinska, who is the Custodian of the Polish National Museum in Krakow.  A link to the table of contents of this issue is here (pdf).

October 2012

In the news:  "Big Visions Writ Small" by Rich Corozine in this week's Almanac (Ulster Publishing), an article focusing on the upcoming "Personal Equilibrium" show at Bard College.  See the article here.

In the news:  An illustrated article by Deb Medenbach in the November/December issue of Ulster Magazine can be see here, article is located on pages 47-52.

In the news:  The October issue of ArtNews, in the NewsBriefs section, one can find an obituary on Jan Sawka.

New video of the UMU Sculptures here.

Starting on Thursday, November 1st at the Stevenson Library, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, the first exhibition of Jan Sawka’s work since his passing:  "Personal Equilibrium:  The Private Journals of Jan Sawka."

Opening reception takes place on Wednesday, November 7th, 4-6:00PM.  This exhibition will be on-view until Saturday, December 15th.  Location: the display cases in the Stevenson Library Lobby.  The exhibition can be viewed during library hours, which can be found here

Show description: 

During and between travels and work on large projects, Jan Sawka created a number of journals in small, blank books.  The journals are fully illustrated, chiefly with ink drawings, which are often painted or colored.  The images and themes reach across the various artistic disciplines that Sawka practiced, including sketches for architectural projects, paintings, set design and prints.  One journal focuses on the art of calligraphy, another on typography.  Other journals explore travels, real and imagined. One journal is a visual diary, while another is a study of various human faces. At times, they are just wild forays into the imagination.  All of the journals are a record of the inner life, visions and emotions of the artist.

Jan Sawka had over 70 individual exhibitions of his work at museums and major gallery centers of the world, however, his personal journals never have been exhibited.  Beside their private nature, they would have been lost among Sawka’s chiefly large-scale works.  The exhibition at Bard College’s Stevenson Library is the first opportunity for the public to see these masterworks of draftsmanship and imagination.



August 2012

New York Times obituary print edition out today, Thursday, August 30, 2012 (pdf).

On Thursday, August 9th, 2012, Jan Sawka suffered a heart attack in his studio and home. Shortly after, he passed away in the Kingston Hospital in Kingston, NY. The artist died at a moment where multiple projects and an exhibition were in development. These will continue. Please check in for details to come.

His prolific work will live on and projects currently in development will continue to move forward. This website will continue to expand to include more information about the legacy of this prolific artist.

We would be most grateful if people possessing letters, documents, designs and works contact jan@jansawka.com with scanned images or photographs to help the Sawka family address the monumental task of archiving and organizing information regarding his legacy for future generations.

Below are reactions in the press:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/arts/jan-sawka-polish-artist-dies-at-65.html?_r=1&ref=obituaries (pdf)

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-polish-american-artist-and-architect-jan-sawka-dies-at-65-20120810,0,3009906.story (pdf)

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/12/local/la-me-passings-20120812 (pdf)

http://artforum.com/news/ (pdf)

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/12/local/la-me-passings-20120812 (pdf)

Woodstock Times (pdf)

http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20120831/NEWS0107/208310357/ (pdf)

http://ahomina.com/art-hoard/jan-sawka-1946-2012/4027/ (pdf)

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120810/ENTERTAIN/120819981 (pdf)

http://www.thenews.pl/1/11/Artykul/109005,Graphic-artist-Jan-Sawka-dies (pdf)

Blue Stone Press (pdf)

http://www.artfortune.com/recent+deaths+in+the+arts/art-news-6131/ (pdf)

http://www.hudsonvalleyalmanacweekly.com/2012/11/01/jan-sawkas-big-visions-writ-small/ (pdf)

Polish language media:

Sprostowanie:  Rozumiemy, że w Polskich mediach pojawiają się informacje, że pogrzeb Jana Sawki odbył sie w Polsce.  To nie prawda.  Msza święta pogrzebowa odbyła sie w Kosciele St. Peter’s w Rosendale, N.Y.  Ciało zostało skremowane a miejsce pochowania prochów jest jeszcze niezdecydowane.

http://wroclaw.gazeta.pl/wroclaw/1,35771,12296718,Jan_Sawka___slawe_zdobyl_we_Wroclawiu__zmarl_w_Nowym.html (pdf)

http://www.niedziela.pl/artykul_w_niedzieli.php?doc=nd201235&nr=28 (pdf)

http://www.dziennik.com/weekend/artykul/jas-sawka-nie-zyje (pdf)

http://www.dziennikwschodni.pl/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20120813%2FKRAJSWIAT%2F120819862 (pdf)

http://www.culture.pl/baza-sztuki-pelna-tresc/-/eo_event_asset_publisher/eAN5/content/jan-sawka (pdf)

http://wiadomosci.onet.pl/kraj/zmarl-wybitny-polski-malarz-i-grafik-jan-sawka-mia,1,5215264,wiadomosc.html (pdf)

http://www.dziennikzachodni.pl/artykul/635523,zmarl-jan-sawka-grafik-urodzony-w-zabrzu,id,t.html?cookie=1 (pdf)

http://www.polskatimes.pl/artykul/635569,nie-zyje-jan-sawka-wybitny-malarz-i-grafik,id,t.html (pdf)

http://natemat.pl/26917,zmarl-jan-sawka-wybitny-malarz-plakacista-i-ilustrator-mial-66-lat (pdf)

http://www.dzienniklodzki.pl/tag/jan-sawka.html?cookie=1 (pdf)

http://www.tokfm.pl/Tokfm/1,102433,12293606,Jan_Sawka_nie_zyje__Znany_plakacista_zmarl_na_atak.html (pdf)

http://www.gazetawroclawska.pl/artykul/635561,jan-sawka-wybitny-malarz-i-grafik-nie-zyje,id,t.html (pdf)

http://www.tvn24.pl/jan-sawka-nie-zyje-mial-66-lat,270529,s.html (pdf)

June 2012

Currently on view:   “The Japanese Touch:  Contemporary Masterpieces of Printmaking” at the Daniela Passal Gallery at Mohonk Arts, 186 Mohonk Road, High Falls, NY 12440.  This show was created by Jan Sawka and it features works by the most prominent contemporary Japanese designers.  The gallery is open weekdays.  Please call 845-687-7490 before coming to visit. 

The Raymond Steiner Blog of Art Times Journal currently features an essay by Jan Sawka’s daughter, Hanna M. Sawka, about the background of “The Japanese Touch” exhibition (pdf).

Jan Sawka talks about "The Japanese Touch," artistic friendships and creative activities in Japan in this interview by Will Baylies of independent Hudson Valley radio station, WKZE:

Additional information about this exhibition is available on the blog of Green Door Magazine (pdf).

Currently on view:  Jan Sawka’s poster is included in the "PLAGÁT : POSTER! 100 posters in selection of Dušan June” exhibition at The Ján Koniarek Gallery /GJK/ in Trnava, Kopplova vila, Zelený kríček 3, Slovakia.  This show opened on May 31, 2012 and will run through August 5, 2012 (pdf).

May 2012

Recently unraveled: a section of Jan Sawka's set that was used for the Grateful Dead's concert tours in 1989-1990. This original section of the set is at the Grateful Dead Archive, Special Collections, McHenry Library, University of California Santa Cruz. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Meriwether, Grateful Dead Archivist.

Grateful Dead Archive

The Daniela Passal Gallery at Mohonk Arts presents a unique opportunity to see works of some of the most celebrated contemporary designers and artists of Japan. Jan Sawka, an acclaimed artist who lives in High Falls and is a friend and supporter of Mohonk Arts, has for many years collaborated with Japanese creative entities and people. Friendships with artists run and have run deep. Exchanges of gifts and greetings between Sawka and artists such as Kiyoshi Awazu, Koichi Sato, Kazumasa Nagai, Shigeo Fukuda, Ikko Tanaka, Masuteru Aoba, Tadanori Yokoo, and Kenji Ekuan have resulted in a collection that can provide a survey of 20th and 21st century Japanese art and design. The purpose of this exhibition is to bring a unique educational opportunity to the Hudson Valley. Jan Sawka will be delighted to talk about the artists as he knows them personally during the opening reception, which will take place on Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 5 � 8 PM. Location: Mohonk Arts, 186 Mohonk Road, High Falls, NY For more information: 845-687-7490

Japanese Touch


April 2012

"Teraz Polska," or "Poland Now" is the promotional agency of the nation of Poland and it is launching a new, color publication in May.  This first issue will feature cover art by Jan Sawka.  View the magazine cover now on the Teraz Polska website at this link.  The publication will also feature a fully-illustrated article profiling Jan Sawka.  This publication will be distributed to Poland's political and business elite (President Komorowski included). 

Teraz Polask


March 2012

Jan Sawka is proud to announce “The Voyage,” a ninety-minute multimedia spectacle featuring large-scale animated artwork projections together with live performances by the Mickey Hart Band. This project has its roots in Jan Sawka’s collaboration with “The Grateful Dead” during the 25th anniversary of this legendary band, of which Mickey Hart was a member. See project website, which includes a teaser and details here: www.voyageproduction.com.


Late 2011 and 2012 mark the 30th anniversary of a dark era for Poland – Martial Law.  In honor of this time, the United States Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, has posted the “Let Poland Be Poland” series that was broadcast on American prime-time television during Martial Law to raise awareness and support for Poland.  An important part of the campaign was a fundraiser spearheaded by the American labor union, the AFL-CIO, in support of the Solidarity labor union in Poland (Solidarity would eventually force the overthrow of communism in Poland, that led to the freeing of the entire Warsaw Pact block and the fall of the Berlin Wall!).  This fundraiser was supported by both the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as by President Ronald Reagan himself.  The item that was sold through this campaign and that raised millions of dollars for Solidarity was the Solidarity poster designed by Jan Sawka.  Part 5 of the “Let Poland Be Poland” series features Poles in Exile.  Jan Sawka is one of the Exiled Poles featured in this broadcast – see the “Solidarity” poster and other Sawka images and learn some of the story here, on the US Embassy in Poland Youtube channel:


February 2012

Stay tuned for some exciting news about Jan Sawka’s collaboration on a project with a member of the former Grateful Dead band.  In the meantime, take a walk back in time:  There are more pictures than ever of the 25th Anniversary concert tour set here.  This is also a good time to look back at Jan Sawka's large and highly political exhibition, "My Europe," that was in the International Arts Pavilion of the 1992 World Exposition in Seville, Spain.  This installation was sponsored by none other than the Grateful Dead’s Rex Foundation.  That same year, the Grateful Dead also sponsored the Olympic basketball team of the newly freed nation of Lithuania, about which a film (The Other Dream Team) just premiered at Sundance last month.

Currently on view: Jan Sawka’s “Haiti!” poster is part of the “Es geht UM die WELT: Internationale Plakate zu Natur und Umwelt” (About the World We Live In) exhibition at the KUNSTMUSEUM DIESELKRAFTWERK COTTBUS (DKW), Cottbus, Germany.  Opening Saturday, February 4, 2012 at 11:00 AM.  Click here for details on DKW website.


2010 - 2011 Recap

In May 2010, Jan Sawka unveiled the The Peace Monument at the International Poster Center in the Chelsea Arts District of New York. The event was co-sponsored by the International Poster Center, Temple of Understanding and ACA Galleries.  The unveiling led to a number of Peace Monument-related events in 2011.  Most notably, in February 2011, the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) awarded Jan Sawka and Bart Sapeta “Excellence in Architecture” in the Unbuilt Category for the Peace Monument Complex. 

Award photo 2


Ashokan I left & Ashokan II right
Caleb Sloan (AIA Awards Committee Chair),
Bart Sapeta, Jan Sawka and Hanka Sawka

Jan Sawka and Bart Sapeta�
Jan Sawka and Bart Sapeta�




Jan Sawka Exhibition Recap for 2011 and 2010

Spring of 2011 saw a “Celebration of Sawka” in the Hudson Valley.  Utopian Direction (UD) of Warwick, NY hosted "Multimedia and Beyond" from April 9th to May 31st, 2011, along with an artist talk entitled “Sawka Speaks.”  The UD show focused on Jan Sawka’s multimedia activities and his work with high-tech media.  View exhibition here.  Utopian Direction partnered with the Red Eft Gallery in Wurstboro, NY, which hosted the "Ashokan Views" Exhibition from April 2 to May 7, 2011.  This exhibition featured a major painting installation called "Ashokan Views." "Ashokan Views" was inspired by one of the most beautiful locations in the Catskill Mountains – the Ashokan Reservoir, a huge artificial lake surrounded by the Catskill mountains. View exhibition here.

Resulting press included the article below (click here to enlarge):

Award photo 4


Jan Sawka's cover art was part of forty pieces representing the Westways Cover Art Program at the Pasadena Museum of California Art (Click here for show information). Exhibition ran from December 2010 to February 27, 2011. Click here for the Los Angeles Time’s article about show, which featured Jan Sawka’s artwork on the cover of the “Art and Books” section on December 19th, 2010.

The Peace Monument, Jerusalem design was part of the exhibition of submissions for the American Institute of Architects "Excellence in Architecture" Awards at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, N.H.  This exhibition ran from December 7, 2010 to January 21, 2011.

Jan Sawka's "Book of Fiction" prints were a part of the "The Illustrious Mr. X" exhibition at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz, New York from January 26, 2010 to July 17, 2011, click for details.  Read a review of "The Illustrious Mr. X" by Paul Smart for Ulster Publishing's Almanac (review).

Jan Sawka opened “Homecoming: The International Art of Jan Sawka” in October 2010, at Mohonk Arts, in High Falls, New York.  Works featured have been shown in places as diverse as Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates; Japan, the Hamptons, the American West and European cities.  The exhibition included the Smart Glass “UMU” sculptures.  The show can be viewed here
Read a preview of “Homecoming” by Paul Smart of Ulster Publishing here.


Jan Sawka in 2011 Competitions

Jan Sawka's "HAITI!" charity poster participated in the 22nd Warsaw International Poster Biennial at the Poster Museum at Wilanów, which took place from 2-5 June 2010.  In July 2011, the “Haiti!” poster was a finalist in the 18th Lahti Poster Biennial 2011, at the Lahti Art Museum/Poster Museum in Lahti, Finland. The "HAITI!" poster was sponsored by PZL (Link), a Polish advertising and marketing firm, in order to raise funds to aide earthquake victims and rebuilding efforts in Haiti.



All artworks/images copyright Jan Sawka Estate