In 1905, Gustave Dutailly, parliamentary representative of the Haute-Marne bequeathed his astonishing collection of prints, which included around 5000 posters, to the town of Chaumont. The development and completion of this extraordinary collection are at the origin of the first Poster Festival founded by Cyril de Rouvre (Mayor of Chaumont from 1989 to 1995) and Thierry Simon in 1990. Jean-Claude Daniel (Mayor of Chaumont from 1995 to 2008) and Pascal Grisoni continued the Festival’s project and encouraged the opening to all forms of graphic design. Alain Weill was the artistic director until 2001, and was then followed by Pierre Bernard, Alex Jordan, Vincent Perrottet (artistic directors), Jean-François Millier and Étienne Bernard (general managers) from 2002 to 2009.
Since 1990, Chaumont has been striving to be the capital of graphic design. The town’s International Poster and Graphic Design Festival, set up to breathe fresh life into the posters and printed documents in the Dutailly Collection, is now recognised as a must-attend event for the graphic-design community. Designers from all over the world were invited to enter the International Poster Competition that has been organized every year since. The Festival has assembled a contemporary poster collection, conserved by the town of Chaumont, of more than 40,000 items; brings together students from France and Europe; and is the annual gathering for European practitioners, as well as a major cultural event in greater eastern France.
Opened in 1994, Les Silos book and poster centre includes an exhibition space, curating areas and a screenprinting studio. The Municipality of Chaumont, supported by the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC), the Regional Council and the County Council, has developed a range of actions that span exhibitions, residencies, audience mediation, and training. Lycée Charles de Gaulle, a local secondary school, now offers various French qualifications: technical certificate (BTS), licence, and advanced diploma in applied arts (DSAA).
When Les Silos was built, there were already plans for a building dedicated to graphic design. But the extension of Les Silos – intended to house a poster museum, and latterly an art-centre project (in 2007) – did not materialise. Today, the International Centre for Graphic Design (CIG)– but in a larger, reorganised version – is at last being executed by a team of partners. They aim to create a European-class facility for artistic, cultural and educational development, which also fosters the urban and economic development of the local area.
The Graphic Design Department today
The Graphic Design Department is leading an innovating campaign addressed to the general public for the diffusion, artistic education and training and this not only in the town of Chaumont but also in the Region. Graphic designers are often called upon to take part in projects involving the schools, associations, daytime centres, students, prisoners…
The Graphic Design Department, as it exists today, carries out a range of actions:
- Exhibitions at Les Silos, and at regional and international venues.
- Artist residencies lasting three years.
- Creative workshops for schoolchildren and associations.
- The International Poster and Graphic Design Festival, a major event held yearly in May and June.
The Graphic Design Department is supported by the Municipality of Chaumont, the Champagne-Ardenne Regional Council, the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the Haute-Marne County Council, the national agency for social cohesion and equal opportunities (ACSE) and the Ministry of Education.
Activities by the provisional (pre-build) CIG
Since 2010, the actions listed above have been supplemented by:
- A competition and exhibition of the best French posters, held during the festival, after which the exhibition goes on tour.
- Operations with partner venues to raise the profile of the CIG project.
- The development of a publishing policy to perpetuate and disseminate the actions conducted in Chaumont.
The collections now comprise:
- The antiquarian collection in the Dutailly Bequest: 5,000 old posters of historical importance, awarded the “Musée de France” label.
- The collection of about 40,000 contemporary posters compiled since the festival’s inception, and enriched by about 2,000 pieces each year.
The International Poster and Graphic Design Festival
Chaumont’s flagship event has been staged in May and June every year since 1989. Graphic output from France and beyond is shown at several venues around the town. An unmissable attraction for graphic-design professionals and enthusiasts, it hosts about 25,000 visitors during its four-week duration. Several high-level competitions are held each year:
- The International Poster Competition.
- The “Students – All to Chaumont!” Competition.
- The French Selection (since 2010).
The Festival is staged at the town’s main cultural venues (Les Silos, Espace Bouchardon, Chapelle des Jésuites, etc.) and in outdoor spaces that extend the reach of the event.
The International Centre for Graphic Design
In France, graphic design is still poorly represented in the country’s cultural institutions, and is often confined to the fields of communication and advertising. It does not enjoy the same aura as the other pictorial arts (painting, photography, etc.). Nearly absent from France’s National Collection of Contemporary Art (FNAC), the discipline is unfamiliar to the general public, which still often associates it solely with posters. The International Centre for Graphic Design (CIG) thus meets a strong demand from professionals for a centre that represents their discipline and disseminates it to the greatest number. The CIG must therefore focus on being Europe’s first centre to present, explain and take part in graphic design.
The centre will satisfy several needs:
- Playing a true educational and cultural role vis-à-vis professionals and the general public.
- Sustaining an open relationship with Chaumont and the local area, to disseminate graphic design to the greatest number.
- Providing the town with a high-quality venue for dissemination.
- Aspiring to a high degree of professionalism, to become the benchmark centre of expertise in graphic design.
- Serving as a venue for creative output and co-productions.
This project is supported and financed by the Europe Union, the State, the Region Champagne-Ardenne, and the Conseil Général.