By Harry Katz
Author, Visual Historian, former Head Curator at the Library of Congress, Washington DC
From the Nineteenth Century forward posters have illuminated the political, social and economic life of nations across the globe. Leading artists have produced landmark works of art for popular consumption, promoting political movements, films, stage plays, economic initiatives and cultural concern.
The PosterArc Collection is the finest, most comprehensive private collection I have seen, a world class assemblage documenting the history and development of the genre on a global scale.
At the Library of Congress I directed management of the poster collection, more accurately described — like the PosterArc archives — as “a collection of collections,” comprising more than one hundred thousand posters gathered since the mid-Nineteenth Century by type and topic for their historical, documentary and visual interest.
Posters sell products, spark protest, inspire creativity and attract interest across a wide range of shared human experiences: Third World poverty, education and environment; AIDS, racism, nuclear war, politics and religion. They are vanishing now, an obsolete art form in a digital world, their use more marginalized than ever.
In gathering such a huge array, PosterArc has made an important contribution to the future by ensuring that these fragile artifacts remain available as evidence for scholars and historians, cultural touch stones for understanding human nature and the world’s evolution through two centuries.
The large scale and scholarly value of the collection suggest that there will never be another assemblage of such depth and quality.