The Art of the Poster Beckons Summer at The Newark Public Library
Color-drenched images depicting everything from lyrical nights at the Metropolitan Opera to the urgency of World War II, from the azure and diamond seas of Puerto Rico to the eye-popping velvet dreams of the 1960ís will fill the walls of the Newark Public Library all summer long as it unveils overlapping exhibits of its unique posters and illustrations.
Art of the Poster, featuring some of the finest posters in the Libraryís extensive collection of more than 5,000 works, opens in the Main Libraryís second and third floor galleries, 5 Washington Street on June 4. A second colorful exhibit, The Art of Illustration, featuring images culled from the Libraryís collection of 2,500 picture books and portfolios, opens August 20 in the third floor gallery.
"We have a wonderful and growing collection of beautiful works of art, and we want the public to be able to enjoy it," said Library Director Wilma J. Grey. "Our Keeper of the Prints, William J. Dane, has selected the most outstanding examples from our collection for these exhibits."
An exhibit featuring the institutionís collection of fine prints; original works by renowned artists opens November 14. All three of the displays are free and open to the public during regular library hours.
The Libraryís collection of works of art on paper was launched by director John Cotton Dana in 1902 as a teaching tool for the study of visual arts. The original collection consisted of thousands of illustrations from periodicals in America, England, France and Germany. It was later expanded to include original prints purchased from artists, galleries and dealers.
"Unique collections like these are what set The Newark Public Library apart. Itís not just books and our exciting programs that draw people to our facilities; our outstanding collections of posters, art, documents and other ephemera also serve to attract the public to the Library," Grey said.
These exhibits, culminating in the year-end Gala Showing of Original Prints, will showcase for the public the gems of the Libraryís collection.
"We have posters and illustrations grouped in more than a dozen categories; itís hard to know what to pick," said Dane, who explained that he chose the most vibrant and visually stimulating examples on each topic. "I want the galleries to be full of color this summer."
The Art of the Poster exhibit includes images that depict musical themes and other performing arts, the two World Wars, architecture and architects, sculptors and their works, the history of photography, travel and notable artists.
Describing the difference between the exhibits, Dane explained that the posters, while beautiful, are in essence merchandising tools while illustrations are based on prepared text; the image must be sympathetic to the story line and help move it along. Both are reproductions of original art works commissioned to support an idea.
"Posters are mostly about selling something, whether itís an art exhibit, a vacation in Puerto Rico or the urgency of war," Dane said. "Itís the vitality of the visual image and the wording that we focused on when deciding what to select for the poster collection."
Joan of Arc is featured prominently in one of the World War I posters. Screaming eagles fly in a second war poster. The art of Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso on posters will also grace the gallery walls. The cases will contain some of the Libraryís treasured books on poster history, including one featuring the posters produced by the artists of the Soviet Union during the communist period.
The collection has grown through Library purchases, donations and gifts of original and reproduced work until it has evolved into one of the foremost collections of graphic art in the state.
"When John Cotton Dana directed the Library, he established the premise that nothing was too good for the citizens of Newark. He maintained that they are interested in everything and deserve the best," Dane said.
For more information about the exhibit, visit the Web site at www.npl.org/Pages/ProgramsExhibits/Exhibits/artposter07.html. To arrange a group tour, please call 973-733-7745.
©2007 The Newark Public Library