The Crazy Locomotive
[Krakow]: Teatr Stu, . Offset. 36 ½ x 25 ¾ in. Very good. Item #POS139
Poster for Witkacy's The Crazy Locomotive, designed by Jan Sawka.
The Crazy Locomotive follows the passengers of a train hijacked by criminals, artists, and degenerates - duchesses policemen, gangsters, surrealist painters, psychiatrists, and locomotive engineers wander across the stage, killing one another and discuss philosophy.
Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, known as Witkacy, was among the most compelling figures of the 20th century avant-garde. A groundbreaking artist who incessantly crossed disciplinary boundaries, he experimented widely in photography, painting and drawing, theatre, philosophy, and fiction during the interwar period. Beyond The Crazy Locomotive, Witkacy is renowned for his transgressive novel Insatiability, and his 1933 work Narkotyka - comprised of surrealistic portraits and drawings created and written under the influence of a wide array of narcotics, work which predated similar experiments by Henri Michaux and others.
This poster, designed by Jan Sawka for Teatr Stu’s 1975 production of the Crazy Locomotive is among the most well-known of the Teatr Stu’s posters, and a triumph of achievement in design among the Polish artists sometimes known as the Polish Poster School.
Jan Sawka (1946-2012) was one of the most celebrated artists of the 1960s and '70s Polish underground. Sawka, though critical of the Communist regime in Poland, was largely able to avoid trouble with censors until the mid-1970s, when his work began to attract an international audience. His oppositionist activities led to his exile from Poland in 1976, making these posters some of the last works he designed in Poland. He lived in New York until his death in 2012 and went on to do set design for the Grateful Dead, Steve Winwood, and others.