Many of the logos and graphics designed by Pentagram partner Paula Scher seem to dance, but her latest project takes that virtue more literally. This week saw the launch (in print and online) of Scher’s new identity and promotional campaign for the New York City Ballet, the venerable dance company founded in 1933 by Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine.
Designed by Scher with Lisa Kitschenberg of Pentagram and the NYCB’s Luis Bravo, the identity aims to give the company a dramatic, contemporary new aesthetic linked to its legacy and location. According to Scher, it is “designed to be powerful and graceful at the same time, like the company.” Pentagram provides the details:
Set in the font DIN, the logotype appears stacked and layered, like buildings staggered in the skyline, with a degree of transparency that echoes the visual texture of the cityscape. The palette is composed of black, white, and silvery grays, in the way that the buildings of New York can sometimes appear. The starkness of the identity is softened by its transparency and a subtle gradation of color that will include shades of blue blacks, green blacks, and red blacks.
Scher, who previously designed an identity for the Metropolitan Opera (the NYCB’s Lincoln Center neighbor), joins an elite group of artists and designers who have helped the NYCB to graphically define itself over the years. One former logo (at left) drew upon an Isamu Noguchi-designed lyre used in Balanchine’s “Orpheus” (Noguchi’s actual design is pictured at right). Additionally, artist Francesco Clemente has contributed work for the identity of the company’s choreographic institute, and illustrator (and balletomane) Edward Gorey created the iconic “Five Positions” logo that is still sold on NYCB t-shirts.