Ateliers Populaires

May 68 Poster

Anti-Nazism and the Ateliers Populaires: The Memory of Nazi Collaboration in the Posters of Mai ’68 is an excellent essay on the origins and context of the Ateliers Populaires, a collective poster workshop supporting the striking students and workers in France. Among the things I learned:

  • There were several Ateliers Populaires in several cities in France. Paris alone had 6.
  • The posters appeared in something of a vacuum, and were all the more shocking because of this. Political posters had not been seen on the streets in 20 years.
  • The first posters were originally intended as fine art prints for sale to raise money for the striking workers, not as street art, and were originally printed by offset lithography, a more labor intensive process. These were taken out to the streets by popular demand where they inspired others to do the same.
  • The style and simplicity of the designs was a function of both the medium and the conditions of production: the low-tech, improvised silkscreen apparatus and the incredible speed at which they were produced.
  • The cheap newsprint paper they printed on were remnants donated by newspaper printers, who couldn't use the last bits of their paper rolls.
  • Anyone could submit a design or slogan and designs were argued over collectively.
  • Despite the progressive politics, the role of women in the studios was rather regressive.
  • In some cases, the artists chose a more provocative poster idea over a more politically sensitive one. The posters comparing the French security apparatus to the Nazis and their tactics were particularly problematic and incendiary.
>  6 October 2008 | LINK | Filed in ,

Alaska Women Reject Palin

There’s a special zing to criticism from “one’s own:” veterans against the war, 9/11 families critical of the memorial and investigation, or, say, Alaska women rejecting Sarah Palin.

Some are calling last week’s 1,500 strong protest in front of the Loussac Library in Anchorage the biggest political rally in the history of the state. The protest has reverberated throughout the Internet as well, forwarded by email and blog. As of this writing, Google turns up 19,100 hits. Propelling it along are photos of the cheeky, hand-made posters used at the event.

The protest started with a small group of women, talking over coffee. They printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. Word was also spread by a conservative radio host who mocked them on the air. No doubt the free publicity helped. Read more about the protest here.

>  23 September 2008 | LINK | Filed in ,


It’s among the most recognizable images in Holland. The poster below was drawn by Opland, the pseudonym of Rob Wout, one of Holland’s most popular political cartoonists in the second-half of the twentieth century. For 53 years, from age 19 until his death in 2001, Opland drew caricatures and political cartoons for De Volkskrant and De Groene Amsterdammer. In 1981, at a high point in his career, Opland contributed this cartoon to the anti-nuclear movement. The slogan reads ‘No new nuclear weapons in Europe.’ It became one of his most famous images in the peace movement outside the Netherlands, as well. The image is a nice mix of humor and outrage, clarity and simplicity, with a dash of familiarity. How could you say no to her?

New New Nuclear Weapons in Europe

The anti-nuclear movement in Holland had been active through the late-1970’s and in 1978 an unexpected coalition of Communists, leftists, and religious groups organized nation-wide protests and petitions that successfully pressured the center-right government to disallow U.S. neutron warheads in the Netherlands. However, a year later Prime Minister van Agt endorsed NATO plans to deploy additional U.S. nuclear warheads to Holland, though in deference to domestic pressure, postponed a final decision. Citizens were outraged and took to the streets, holding one of Amsterdam’s largest protests ever in November 1981. American pundit Walter Laqueur coined the term Hollanditis to describe the movement and its influence on other European countries, particularly West Germany. Around a quarter of the population of the Netherlands signed a petition against the deployment and the movement culminated in a record-breaking one million strong demonstration in The Hague in 1983. In May 1984, a nation-wide week of protest was held and 900,000 people participated in a 15-minute general strike.

Still, on November 1, 1985, after the Soviet Union failed to comply with a Dutch ultimatum and in a period of escalating cold war tensions, the Dutch parliament voted to allow 48 American missiles on Dutch soil, to deploy by 1988. In the end, the new warheads never arrived. In 1987 the Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to eliminate intermediate range missiles.

>  22 September 2008 | LINK | Filed in ,
Sex Up the Dossier. I love the energy of Favianna’s new anti-war poster designs for CODEPINK.
CODEPINK Posters for Peace
>  17 September 2008 | LINK | Filed in ,

Call for Entries: Grafica Politica #2

Got something to say to the Republicans? Grupo Soap del Corazón, a Latino artists’ group in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, has sent out a call for posters protesting the Republicans at the RNC in Saint Paul this fall. There are a few rules: they are asking for at least three posters of your image (one for public pasting, one for an exhibition, and one for archiving) and at least five posters must be placed in your own community. You must also submit a digital photo of your poster in context. See Just Seeds and the Groundswell Blog for more detail.
>  26 July 2008 | LINK | Filed in

Work! Not War!

>  24 July 2008 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

We All Teach All the Time

Argument Poster

>  13 July 2008 | LINK | Filed in ,
Print Art and Revolution in Mexico. “Although Mexico’s contribution to social-movement murals is well documented, much less is known about Mexico’s activist graphic arts history.... Deborah Caplow’s excellent book goes a long way toward informing us about the explosive combination of art, artists, politics, and printmaking in Mexico during the mid-1900s.” Radical librarian Lincoln Cushing reviews Leopoldo Méndez: Revolutionary Art and the Mexican Print.

Méndez was a founder and leader of the Taller de Gráfica Popular.
Mendez Snake
>  28 June 2008 | LINK | Filed in , ,
The most useful subway poster you'll never see. The story of Vignelli's subway map is fairly well known, but I hadn't seen his route poster before. The poster is an elegant table of every major station in the subway system and how to get there from your current station, listing which line to take and where to transfer.
Vignelli Directions Poster
>  18 June 2008 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Making Policy Public: Call for Designers

Social Security Risk MachineThe Center for Urban Pedagogy sends along this open call for designers for its series of borchure-and-poster visual briefs on vital issues in US policy. Their text:

“Making Policy Public, CUP’s new collaborative series of publications, uses innovative graphic design to explore and explain public policy. Our distinguished jury has selected advocates’ proposals for the next issues of Making Policy Public. We are now seeking designers to collaborate with these advocates to illuminate the issues. Designers chosen through the juried submission process will receive full attribution for their work, an honorarium of $1000, and publicity through CUP.”

See the four policy briefs for 2008, as well as previous briefs on The Cargo Chain and The Social Security Risk Machine.

Expressions of interest and a limited portfolio are due Monday, June 16.

For submission guidelines and more about the project, visit the Making Policy Public website:

>  27 May 2008 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

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