Poster, Capital, 1968
Three screenprint posters produced during the May-June 1968 political struggles in Paris are presented for acquisition consideration. One poster shows a rat in red on yellow with the text, Vermine Fasciste, Action Civique (Fascist Vermin ─ Civil Action); a second shows a bloody fist with the title Capital; the third shows a figure on all fours inscribed with media Radio, Television, and Mouton, On Vous Intoxique (You Are Being Poisoned! ─ Radio, Television, Mutton). These three posters of insurrection document a period of civil unrest in France that started in March 1968 with student protests at the University of Paris in Nanterre and subsequently arose at the Sorbonne, against class discrimination and the policy of university funding, and turned into larger protests against capitalism, consumerism, and out-of-touch institutions. The demonstrations then spread to factory workers and trade unions and eventually involved twenty-two percent of the entire population of France. The protest became the largest nation-wide wild-cat strike in French history.
The posters distributed during the two-month demonstrations were pasted over the walls, kiosks, and barricades of Paris daily. Generally printed in a single color (green, blue, red, black and purple), they are characterized by their crude, confrontational imagery and rough hand-made text, yielding works of great communicative energy. The recurrent themes include resistance against De Gaullist government; criticism of capitalism and the actions of the police; unity of students, unions and workers; and support of strikers throughout France. The posters were produced in studios all over Paris. The first to emerge on May 16 was a shop, named the “Atelier Populaire” at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. The École de Medicine and the École National Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs also had print shops. Between mid-May and the end of June 1968, the Atelier Populaire created over 400 designs and the Atelier des Arts Décoratifs produced 100 posters. Estimates of total production are between 300,000 and 600,000. Artists were deliberately kept anonymous, but many of the posters have stamps of the studios in which they were produced. Posters would be printed, in the main, as screenprints, and to a lesser extent as lithographs, and stenciled designs around the clock and pasted up surreptitiously during the night by protestors emerging from the print shops.
It is credited
Museum purchase from the Members' Acquisitions Fund of Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.
Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.
Its dimensions are
60 × 55 cm (23 5/8 × 21 5/8 in.)
It has the following markings
At lower right, in black: Faculté de Sciences 'FAC DE SCIENCES'
Cite this object as
Poster, Capital, 1968; screenprint on paper; 60 × 55 cm (23 5/8 × 21 5/8 in.); Museum purchase from the Members' Acquisitions Fund of Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum; 2017-8-1
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition How Posters Work.