ArtsAlive.ca – Persuading Presence
image:About the National Arts Centre Poster CollectionBy Gerry Grace, NAC Archivist

About the National Arts Centre Poster Collection
By Gerry Grace, NAC Archivist

photo:National Arts Centre, Kirov Ballet
Poster designed by Gilbert Creative Group for the 1987 Kirov Ballet performance in the NAC Opera © National Arts Centre, Kirov Ballet

Posters are preserved in the NAC Archive as important records of live performances, often containing valuable historical information such as performance dates and artist names (the information people originally look for on posters when considering if they want to attend a performance). But posters are also fascinating works of documentary art. Posters in our collection were created by some of the very best Canadian and international graphic designers and artists, whose inspired visual interpretations and explorations on poster paper of the themes and subjects of the plays, ballets, operas, concerts and variety shows performed on NAC stages are in their own way sometimes as profound and inventive as those live performances.

Renowned artists and designers such as Vittorio, Yvan Adam, Theo Dimson and design houses such as Lumbago are represented in the Collection, along with many outstanding posters by undocumented or unknown designers.

In the ephemeral world of the performing arts, posters can eventually become even more than archival records or documentary art. Vittorio Fiorucci is one of a number of renowned graphic designers who was commissioned to create posters to publicize theatrical productions for the NAC. Today, his brilliant posters are not just preserved in the NAC poster collection as documentary records, they have also become expressive symbols of the National Arts Centre’s theatrical memory, and they inform our understanding of the artistic context of the period in which they were created.