Un Grand serpent chromé

In spring 2011, the Graphic Design Department showed the 70-plus posters created by M/M (Paris) for the communications of the Centre Dramatique de Bretagne (CDDB), a theatre in Brittany, northwest France.

The exhibition, Un Grand serpent chromé, included all the posters that Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag have produced in the past 15 years for the CDDB – Théâtre de Lorient run by Eric Vigner. The 56 production posters and 15 season posters form one of the landmark achievements of French graphic design from the 1990s and the present day.

These theatre posters draw on an iconography rooted in the two designers’ daily professional and personal lives. Placed in the public space of Lorient with cultural-message status, the images create a link between theatrical performance and the “ordinary” experience of the spectator. They break with a model of theatre poster centred on a printed staging of the play: they are works on meaning, conducted through symbolic and visual metaphor. But meaning remains on the periphery; some posters seem to depict a scene, an allegory, a memento mori... while others appear to originate in trivia.

The posters’ printing in four colours (CMYK), the default method of representation, contrasts with the sophisticated formal work on the lettering of the black-and-white titles. An original wallpaper was created as a display context for the exhibits, which have since been donated to the Graphic Design Department. The communication materials for the exhibition – poster, invitation and press file – were specially commissioned from Fanette Mellier and Xavier Antin.

Venue: Les Silos, Chaumont.
Dates: 25 March to 23 April 2011.

Curator: Étienne Hervy
Graphic designers: Fanette Mellier, Xavier Antin
Project manager at M/M (Paris): Jane Schwengbeck

Exhibition’s poster