Just to start off with, this post isn’t about style grabbing or anything like that. I stumbled on these mad French rebel posters, and once I read a bit more about the background of them, it got me thinking about how designers have to tread a little carefully when they’re plundering the past.
In short, the French riots of 1968 were caused by a shitty government led by Charles de Gaulle (who now has a shitty airport to his name), poverty and unemployment (nothing new there). Hipster art students of Ecole de Beaux Arts created the group the Atelier Populaire, and started to produce posters that raged against the machine and gave concrete support to the movement of the workers on strike.
Here’s the rub; They described their own posters as ’weapons in the service of the struggle and are an inseparable part of it. Their rightful place is in the centers of conflict, the streets and on the walls of the factories.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved that work for Rhodia, I blogged about it as soon as I saw it. I know Soviet and WW2 Propaganda has been raped to dust long ago, so maybe these flash in the pan uprisings (eg. Libya) should be left alone out of respect for what they actually stand for.
‘To consider (these posters) as objects of aesthetic interest is to impair both their function and their effect.’ - The Atelier Populaire, 1968