May 1968, a year that changed France, and Europe. A sexual revolution was taking place alongside changes in France's workforce. At the heart of all this change, were bold, striking, provocative and above all iconic posters which unified students and workers who strived to make their plights of sexual freedom and liberation from capitalism known.

Paris, May, 1968 Paris, May, 1968

Events began with a complaint from students at the Nanterre University in March 1968. Students were demanding more rights: male and female students were fraternising, in short, they believed young adults in their late teens and twenties should be able to have sex.

Sexual revolutions at the time were not unique to France, just a year before the Flower Power revolution had begun in San Francisco and even prudish Brits were rethinking sex, thanks to a new wave in culture lead by such pop artists as The Beatles.

Students were becoming a powerful body in France, by 1968, France had 605,000, as many as Britain, West Germany and Belgium combined.

After hearing the cry of their fellows students at Nanterre, students at the École des Beaux Arts in 1968 occupied the printing studios and converted them into a propaganda machine, creating posters that would become icons of political art.

The Atelier Populaire, the group of students designing the posters, fuelled by Marxism, were renouncing the privileged, bourgeois art world. Posters were transformed from art to tools, with individual designers never credited, under the ethos that this was far too bourgeois.

An article in Le Monde on 15 March 1968, written by Pierre Viansson-Ponté stated that France was suffering from a dangerous political malady: "boredom'' or ''ennui,'' as the French call it.

But something that these ''bored'' students were fighting against rang true for and unlikely ally, the workers of France. The Atelier Populaire factory became a symbolism of workers and students standing arm and arm against their oppressors.

Workers called wildcat strikes. And the French government, wanted to stop the demonstrations held by both students and workers.

On 3rd May, demonstrations were planned in the courtyard of the Sorbonne, in the centre of Paris's Left Bank. A far-right-wing group, Occident, attended the demonstrations with the aim to fire-up the left-wing students by threatening to attack their protest.

Police and students lock horn during protests in Paris, 1968 Police and students lock horn during protests in Paris, 1968

The police disrupted the protests - reports state that around 400 were arrested by brutal force.

Demonstrations spread to provincial cities. On 24th May a poor attempted was made to torch the Bourse, the Paris stock exchange.

Leaders of the young people who built barricades and overturned cars in the Paris Latin Quarter in 1968 would go on to become  senior journalists, writers, philosophers and politicians, including foreign minister Bernard Kouchner.

In 2007, during his presidential campaign, Nicolas Sarkozy promised to "liquidate" the legacy of 1968, which he blamed for poor school results, high crime figures and the decline of patriotism.

Prime Minister Georges Pompidou began negotiations with the unions. Minister Jacques Chirac was sent to secretly to prepare pay rises and reduced working hours in order to bring the strike to an end. It was reported that he even took a concealed revolver to his meetings with the unions.

Revolutionary workers and students were enraged by the negotiations. The trade unions accepted the 10% pay rise for all wages, 35% increase in minimum wage and a shorter working week with mandatory appraisals between employer and worker.

On 13th March, 2018, 50 years on from May 1968, Artcurial will mark the date with an auction entitled May 68 in 500 Posters. The auction in Paris will present to the market French film producer Laurent Storch's collection of May 1968 posters. May 1968 was the last French Revolution. A revolution followed by the French to the tune of the transistor radios and filmed documentation. The Laurent Storch collection retraces the story of May 1968 in 500 powerful posters and strong soundbites. Imagined and created by the students themselves, they accompany the insurrectional movement from the very first day, creating a permanent dialogue with the forces that were. Rarely has a political movement instigated such iconographic and persistent memorial traces.

Laurent Storch has collected these posters since 1988. He has gathered them into a complete and unique collection to be auctioned at Artcurial during the 50th anniversary celebrations of May 1968.

See more here.

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