The Surrealism Website
Rafal Olbinski (1945-)
Born in Kielce, Poland in 1945, Rafal Olbinski studied architecture
before dedicating himself to painting and design. He graduated from
the Architectural Department of Warsaw Politechnical School.
In the 1970s and early 1980s he created a number of poster designs
for Polish rock and Jazz bands, as well as some more political
pieces. In 1979 he created the poster for the film Man of Iron by
Andrzej Wajda, which soon after became one of the most famous and
reproduced posters of the 'Solidarity' movement.
In 1982 he emigrated to the USA where he quickly
established himself as an artist, designer and illustrator. In
1985, he began teaching at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
He turned again to poster designs, adapting his paintings as
publicity posters for events, initially usually for American Opera
companies but as his reputation grew many international companies
also used his work. This led to him creating 100 opera
illustrations for album covers for Allegro-Music's Opera D'Oro
He became well known in the world of illustration and received
more than 150 awards including from the Art Directors Club of New
York and the Society of Illustrators in New York and Los Angeles
In 1994 he was awarded the International Oscar for The World’s Most
Memorable Poster, Prix Savignac in Paris. The President of the
Republic of Poland awarded Olbinski the highest award in the field
of arts, the gold medal, 'Gloria Artist'. His work has appeared in
publications such as Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, The New
Yorker, Newsweek and Time magazine.
His work primarily draws on the devices used by René Magritte, and
his meticulous, detailed paintings, essentially continue that
impulse into the 21st century. He has had a number of major
exhibitions, one in Cologne in 2008, and his New Dreams of Old
Values in Auburn, Alabama, in 2009.
Olbinski is extremely prolific and seems capable of continually
creating new imagery.