Is there something about the month of May, when spring starts to move into summer, when the dark winter gives way to bright sunshine? This month, in May 2018, students in French universities are demonstrating and visitors to the Pantheon will notice the police at the entrance to the nearby Law Faculty and Library at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Turn the clock back 50 years and Mai 68 was a month, not just of demonstration, but of revolution, with university closures, student protests and violent demonstrations, with paving slabs ripped up and thrown at police and tear gas used to control the crowds, a general strike and the French President de Gaulle briefly leaving the country for his own safety.
By 30 May, it was all over, De Gaulle had dissolved the National Assembly and called a new election. The threat of revolution had vanished almost as quickly as it had come
A key artistic output of the revolution were the posters which were plastered all over the walls of Paris, screen-printed in the Atelier Populaire, the workshop set up by artists and students in the Ecole de Beaux-Arts.
The posters – part of the culture of street art – were not intended to be works of art, but rather works of protest, and were not attributed by the artists but here they are, 50 years later, on display in the Lazinc Gallery in Mayfair, along with a re-created printing press and other memorabilia – a fascinating historical reminder of that month – Mai 68.
The posters are part of the Lazinc collection of propaganda art, including posters from the Cuban revolution – might we see an exhibition of these in 2019, the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution?