‘Factories, Universities, Union’ Free display, located outside Gallery 2

May ’68 and the Atelier Populaire

From the anti-Vietnam war to the resistance of the Soviet dictatorship during the Prague Spring, 1968 was characterized by popular youth protest and violent state reprisals. The most iconic of these were the events of May ’68 in France. At the heart of May ’68 was the Atelier Populaire, a revolutionary poster workshop run by students and artists.

Anybody was free to enter the workshop and present an idea for a poster. Members would then design various options, a vote would be taken as to the most effective design, and everybody would work in shifts to screen print the posters through the night. In the morning, these would be pasted across the streets of Paris and outside factories, and the whole process would begin again.

The workshop ran for a little over a month before being shut down by the police. In that time, the Atelier Populaire created more than 80 poster designs and thousands of individual posters. Fifty years on, many of these have become iconic examples of political graphics, illustrating the power of grassroots activism and the role of design within it.

Discover some of the posters from the May ’68 riots on display outside the Hope to Nope exhibition until 2 September 2018.

Explore more political graphics

Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-18

Discover how graphic design has played a pivotal role in dictating and reacting to the major political moments of our times.

Background image | La Lutte Continue, Atelier Populaire, courtesy of Philippe Vermes - May '68 and the Atelier Populaire.