May 1968: anti-Gaullism

May 1968: anti-Gaullism

  • Poster May 1968: Peasants, workers, students in solidarity

    ANONYMOUS

  • The dog is him!

    ANONYMOUS

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Title: Poster May 1968: Peasants, workers, students in solidarity

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1968 -

Date shown: May 1968

Dimensions: Height 64.5 cm - Width 44.7 cm

Technique and other indications: Anonymous designer. Serigraph: Popular workshop of the former School of Fine Arts.

Storage place: National School of Fine Arts (ENSBA) website

Contact copyright: Beaux-Arts de Paris, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Beaux-arts de Paris image

Picture reference: 16-513384 / Est10667

Poster May 1968: Peasants, workers, students in solidarity

© Beaux-Arts de Paris, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Beaux-arts de Paris image

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Title: The dog is him!

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1968 -

Date shown: May 19, 1968

Dimensions: Height 77.8 cm - Width 58.4 cm

Technique and other indications: Popular workshop of the former School of Fine Arts

Storage place: National School of Fine Arts (ENSBA) website

Contact copyright: Beaux-Arts de Paris, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Beaux-arts de Paris image

Picture reference: 18-504298 / EBA10680

© Beaux-Arts de Paris, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Beaux-arts de Paris image

Publication date: May 2018

Historical context

The May 1968 posters and the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris

Along with the "wild" graffiti inscribed on the walls and banners found in processions of demonstrations or on the facades of occupied buildings, posters are one of the preferred means of expression for those who participate in the events of May-June 1968. They are thus among the emblematic symbols of May 1968 and feature prominently in his “mythological” pantheon, like the cobblestones, sites on strike or the face of Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

In Paris, many of these posters are produced at the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, occupied since May 14. Like Paysyears, workers, solidarity students and The dog is it!that we are studying here, they are then stuck clandestinely on the walls of Paris and certain large cities.

In a context where the so-called traditional media are under the permanent control of the government, in particular via L’O.R.T.F. These representations therefore provide an enlightening testimony to the practices, messages and ideas of those who made May 1968.

Image Analysis

Against de Gaulle

Like most "May posters", Paysyears, workers, solidarity students and The dog is it! are produced using the stencil screen printing method. Unlike the lithography then used overwhelmingly, this technique allows them to be distributed in fairly large quantities, very quickly and at a lower cost. Usually enough there too, Paysyears, workers, solidarity students and The dog is it! have a roughly comparable size (64x44 cm and 77x58 cm) and are unsigned, emanating from a "collective", sometimes called "the popular workshop of Fine Arts".

Using a red background square on which stand out shapes drawn in white, Paysyears, workers, solidarity students represents General de Gaulle, recognizable by his nose, his cap, his chin and his long silhouette. The President of the Republic is here strangled by three powerful arms with clenched fists on his neck. By an inscription, each arm refers to one of the three categories of the population (Paysyears, workers, students) supposed to attack him. At the bottom of the image, the word Solidarity stands out clearly with its larger, irregular, almost childish characters.

The dog is it! also features de Gaulle, again summed up in his kepi and his big nose. The caricature here becomes more grotesque, as the general raises his arms in victory (perhaps in reference to images of his past glory, or the fact that he often raised his arms during his speeches) like a ridiculous puppet or a disarticulated puppet. Here again, the line (the fingers) is deliberately crooked. Produced in 3000 copies in response to the sentence that the latter pronounced during the Council of Ministers of May 19 ("The reform yes, the doglit, no"), the poster which meets a great success ironically uses the old-fashioned term of doggy (which means mess) to turn it against its author. This comic vein is counterbalanced by the use of black on a white background, which gives a more gloomy aura, disturbing this yet laughable adversary

Interpretation

Right of reply

Peasants, workers, solidarity students and The dog is it! therefore attacked de Gaulle directly. Depositary of the supreme authority; accused of being a "dictator" because of the conditions of his seizure of power in 1958 and his way of governing; referred to its militarism; denounced for his political position, both conservative and capitalist, he was one of the favorite targets of students in May 1968. Almost always represented in the same way on posters, he is more often than not a mere shadow. or less threatening, a profile, an outline with a nose and a cap.

This simplification of the line corresponds to the "May 1968 style", direct, effective and easily understood by all. The infantile, irreverent, mischievous and schoolboy touch is assumed, refers to a spirit of rebellious, somewhat anarchizing desecration as well as to the joyful, popular and playful side of the spring insurrection. It is also a way of disembodying the President, of reduce, especially on The dog is it! where de Gaulle is no more than a sort of puppet gesticulating. This poster with a deliberately childish replica (it's not me, it's you!) Also illustrates the liveliness of the May actors, in this case the boiling creativity of the "popular workshop of Fine Arts". It is indeed hot that the messages are developed with spontaneous and sometimes insolent reactions with power.

If she plays on the same springs, this time recalling the comic strip, Paysyears, workers, solidarity students is more political. The use of red, clenched fists, and a form of violence (strangulation) refer to the Marxist revolution. The call for the convergence of struggles and the exhortation to the unity of those who carry them pass here by the designation of a common enemy against which we should face. Paysyears, workers, solidarity students corresponds to a capital moment in May 68, when a movement that started out as a student (from May 3 to 13) becomes social (union and worker), involving the workers in huge strikes (May 13-27) that hit the whole country.

  • May 68
  • De Gaulle (Charles)
  • screen printing
  • Fifth Republic
  • Paris
  • demonstrations
  • anti-Gaullism

Bibliography

ARTIERES, Philppe and ZANCARINI-FOURNEL, Michelle, (dir), 68, a collective history: 1962-1981 Paris, La Découverte, 2008.

CAPDEVIELLE, Jacques and REY, Henry, (dir), Dictionary of May 68, Paris, Larousse, 2008.

CUP, Boris, May 68, Paris, La Découverte, 2008.

SIRINELLI, Jean-François, May 68: the Janus event, Paris, Fayard, 2008.

ZANCARINI-FOURNEL, Michelle, Moment 68, a contested story, Paris, Seuil, coll. “The Historical Universe”, 2008.

Popular workshop of the National School of Fine Arts (Paris), Popular workshop presented by himself: 87 posters from May-June 1968, Paris, Factories, universities, union, 1968.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "May 1968: anti-Gaullism"


Video: May 1968 seen from abroad