International Poster Archives

This unique graphic arts collection of around 130.000 posters from 150 countries, mainly on political-social issues and the performing arts represents the most extensive and diverse privately owned archive of this kind. It forms a comprehensive visual-aesthetic database, tracing and documenting a myriad of historical events and cultural trends over more than half a century worldwide.

Summary of Main Collections:

56.000 posters of political-social movements and left alternative counterculture from the 1960s until today. Subjects include: Human rights, peace movement, environmental protection, socialism, communism, developing world, green parties, globalization, anti-racism, anti-fascism, anti-apartheid, climate change, student movement, Paris May 1968, workers rights, feminism, migration, ethnic conflict, poverty, charity, solidarity, Esperanto, nuclear energy protest, caricatures of leading politicians, animal rights, nature conservation, voting rights, gender/sexuality, labor unions, anarchism, civil rights, etc. etc.

17.000 international theater posters with some of the best works by the world’s leading poster artists, 1970-2000. This diverse and colorful collection with very decorative artwork of many styles represents the most extensive international theater poster archive anywhere.

18.000 posters from and about Africa. Even small numbers of posters from Africa are exceedingly rare to be found in public collections across the world. This one is by far the largest assembled to date, and we are currently focusing on expanding this segment considerably.

4.000 propaganda posters from the Cold War with an emphasis on two of its pivotal points, Cuba and East Germany, including the Berlin Wall, the fall of the Wall and German reunification.

4.000 posters on the history of the European integration process politically, economically and culturally, with a plethora of posters from EU institutions and EU election campaigns from most EU member states, pro and contra.

11.000 posters on public health education and safety from around the world, half of them on HIV/AIDS prevention.

4.000 film posters with an emphasis on Eastern Europe especially Polish design. Includes a collection of approximately 50 silent movie posters from 1912-1914, very early and spectacular sized lithographs (up to 2×3 m!), USA and Europe.

6.000 posters on Pop, Rock, Punk, Rap, Techno, Jazz music etc. mainly from the 1980s/90s. Concert posters, album releases and promotional images of the Who’s Who of Western popular music.

In addition there are many smaller and more specific sub-collections totalling approximately 5000 posters on art and design, exhibitions, commercial advertising, World War I and II, war film posters, Marshall Plan, Fall of the Berlin Wall and Velvet Revolution, Obama inauguration, Pin-ups and erotic posters, pro-drugs, several vintage posters back to the Art Nouveau period etc. and a small library of literature on poster art, most of it out of print, antiquarian books. There are also a number of eminent poster artist’s signed oeuvre collections.

 

The beautiful thing about posters is that they speak so eloquently for themselves. Their raison d’être is to grab your attention and communicate an oftentimes complex message in an instant. Their visual imagery is generally very expressive and extrovert, which stirs emotions and stimulates reflection. This imagery being a child of its time and cultural context encapsulates the Zeitgeist in a highly concentrated form. Therefore the documentary value of a thematic collection over a period of time provides the viewer or researcher with a rich body of evidence in a truly entertaining way: Posters amuse, posters accuse, posters seduce, posters exclaim, posters explain, posters tease, posters please . . .

We believe very few categories of historical objects have the power and potential to do this as well, as the streetwise, never boring, ever present but extremely fragile poster. It would be a sad loss indeed and a missed opportunity to not provide a future for this colorful and rich, in every sense, aspect of cultural heritage.