Socialist Worker

Street art 4: Posters as weapons in Paris 1968

Issue No. 2031

French 1968 poster

French 1968 poster

In 1968 France was brought to a standstill by a huge movement of students and workers. This movement paralysed the French state and also saw an explosion of experimental street art.

Students, workers and artists who occupied the Sorbonne University in Paris founded the Atelier Populaire (Popular Workshop) collective in May 1968. They wanted to support the revolutionary movement with the posters they designed.

The collective printed anti-capitalist posters that were plastered all over the city. The workshop’s radical intentions were made clear in a statement it published:

“The posters are weapons in the service of the struggle and are an inseparable part of it. Their rightful place is in the centres of conflict – that is to say, in the streets and on the walls of the factories.

“To use them for decorative purposes, to display them in bourgeois places of culture, or to consider them as objects of aesthetic interest, is to impair both their function and their effect.”

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