Address by Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, on the occasion of the ceremony of the remisedes insignes of Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters to PeterKnapp, and Etienne Robial, and Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Lettres to Catherine de Smet, François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy, andLudovic Houplain
Ladies and gentlemen,
I always hesitate to start a speech with “this is the first time
that…”. The Ministry of Culture and Communication is 50 years old.
first times, he has seen some. There is also always someone to
point this out to you. Once is not customary, yet I will
launch - we can only congratulate ourselves if I am wrong.
This is the first time that the world of graphic design has been received as
as such in the salons of the Ministry of Culture and Communication.
This first time is probably due to the difficulty that the world of
in France, to be fully recognized. Difficulty
that can be found in the social security problems of
graphic designers. But, this first time is mainly due to a new will of the
Ministry of Culture and Communication to take the subject of this
This new desire is reflected in efforts in terms of control
public and creative support. It is also part of a
Broader: fostering the emergence of a true “visual culture”
in France, where graphic design obviously participates in a way
It is clear that in this globalization that we are experiencing, culture
visual is a tool, one could say a fundamental weapon as have
well understood the Anglo-Saxons. And we will not be able to
conduct a major policy for our creators, even for our brands
and our products, without fully realizing its importance.
I will soon have the opportunity to announce a plan to develop culture
very ambitious. I will do so at the end of the interviews on
visual arts; graphic design will have a large place. Until then, I am
even happier today to decorate personalities who
in the world of graphic design, starting with Etienne
Robial, who honoured us with a considerable donation of his archives to the
Centre national des arts plastiques (CNAP). I thank him for that.
Dear Etienne Robial,
Like sculpture and poetry sometimes, graphic design is an art of
space setting, space setting, whether it is the page of
or the projected image, of realities as material as the
marble or the word: those of the sign and the image. At the same time godfather of the
comics and inventor of the television cover; in turn director
artistic, designer, manufacturer of visual systems, manipulator of
signs, directors of their appearances on the screen, on paper or
on derivatives, major publisher, you are also a pioneer of the concept
visual identity of television channels.
After a remarkable stint at the Beaux Arts de Paris, a school which
you a role of awakening, you learn the profession of graphic designer at the Swiss school
arts and crafts in Vevey. From your beginnings you are interested in
systems of combinations, and your thesis is about dominoes.
Your work, inspired by the Bauhaus, the Russian avant-garde and the American
Paul Rand, dialogue also with those of Robert Crumb or Art
Spiegelman. Jingle of circles and lines, deconstruction
figurative, semiology of colors and degrees-radians are the
signatures of a monument of French graphic design.
Once you graduate you make your debut among others at Barclay for
making album covers, before participating in the 1977 collective
graphic designers Bazooka. Passionate about comics and aware of
financial realities of such a project, you create with Florence Cestac the
first library dedicated to the image and the comic that will become
two years later the publishing house Futuropolis, whose
the masterful work of anticipation by René Pellos. This bookshop
dedicated to the image as such attracts many artists, Eric
Rohmer, Marcello Mastroianni, Eddy Mitchell, Federico Fellini, and - last but
not least - Pierre Lescure, with whom you befriend and with whom you
will soon collaborate. By advocating the concept of author
for comics, you edit Tardi, Moebius, Calvo, Bilal, or
Saint-Ogan by upsetting the world of the book factory and its
habits, if only by the format of your albums, voluntarily and
perfectly adapted to the libraries of the time. Modernity
editorial by Futuropolis, it is also the extraordinary collaboration with
Gallimard for the image of classical texts including the most famous
is Céline’s Voyage au bout de la nuit illustrated by Tardi.
In the world of television, you have applied the precepts of
the graphic architecture of the press by designing multiple designs
French or foreign channels. The adventure begins with a
commissioned by Pierre Lescure for Les enfants du rock on Antenne 2.
For you who have been the designer of many zero numbers for the
press, the image setting logic is identical to that of the
page: only the support differs. Between 1983 and 1984, you define the identity
visual of Canal + with work on color chords ( 6 colors
+ black + white) designed as a scalable module. With their
some 16,000 possible combinations, the Canal+ squares have
engraved in our memory. These blocks of images that you divide,
subdivide, juxtapose, crop are the Robial signature: combine,
identify, organize, choose a clever system and create consistency
Design, Decorative Arts and Crafts Commission of the National Centre
of Fine Arts (CNAP) is very honoured to welcome today, in
its collections, the entire graphic and visual identity of Canal +
between 1984 and 2009 which you donated to him. If your graphic charter
now joins the CNAP, it is that she embodies perfectly this marriage
singular of modernity and efficiency that only graphic design can
produce. With you, on the surface of the screens, it is the dressing that shapes
identity in all its depth.
Television is not your only field of election because you are before
a man of press, a lover of characters and things
as you say. In addition to the zeros that you have
designed, Howling Metal and To follow in the 1970s, you renew
the daily Le Jour in 1993. In 2010, you are
the new visual identity of the InRockuptibles, which
fly in the middle and you worth several prizes.
Under the multitude of logos you have imagined still stands out
with clarity the Robial signature, both simple, pragmatic and scholarly.
I am particularly pleased to pay tribute to the freethinker of
meaning, to the provocative grammarian of signalétiques, to one of the most
great signatures of French graphic design. Dear Etienne Robial, on behalf
of the French Republic, we make you Officer in the Order of the Arts
Dear Peter Knapp,
Behind the videographer, the graphic designer, the typographer, the photographer, there is a
creator who will be interested in all visual media. Photographer
fetish of the greatest fashion magazines, the lover of the image that
you are, according to your own words, fallen into fashion by
chance”. Chance will have done things well, you who have
revolutionized fashion photography by your shots that put the
clothing at the heart of the productions of desire.
It is painting that attracts you first, but you practice the art of
photography as a teenager. You attend the École des
Arts and Crafts of Zurich, where the teaching you are given is registered
in the footsteps of the Bauhaus. Your career begins in the Paris
in the early 1950s, where you linked up with artists like Caesar.
Recruited at Galeries Lafayette where you will become the director
In 1959, you were spotted by Hélène Lazareff, especially for
the launch of its magazine, Nouveau Femina. Hélène Lazareff
search for an artistic director: this is how you see entrusted
reins of her flagship magazine dedicated to women’s fashion, Elle, including you
will define a line marked with the seal of the woman’s liberation. It
remove the gloves, and step on them by hand. From 1966,
you also work for Sunday Time, Vogue or
still Stern. Your work as a fashion photographer then finds a
In contact with the biggest names in photography, Sarah Moon
and Jean-Loup Sieff in Olivero Toscani, you reinvent with your stops on
image the photographic language. Parallel to your long
collaboration with Hélène Lazareff, you work with the designer André
Courrèges as artistic director.
Influenced by the words of Andy Warhol, you exhibit in 1975 on the
photo and contemporary art» and gradually abandon the photo of
Sky Art, an artistic movement with which the
photography is made painting, which becomes for you a work of
decomposition and recomposition. Influenced by the drafts
architectural, you compose images in which the space, the
empty and blue are structuring. It is at this same time that you
make several films for TV shows, including
famous fashion show Dim Dam Dom, for which you play with
fun and humor on his unique derision spirit. Your career of
director is launched.
From your Parisian studios, from Choiseul to Studio Moulin-
Red, your creativity has been repeatedly praised in the
world. Your exhibitions, such as "The Century of the Body" in
Culturgest de Lisbon, «Mutations Mode 1960-2000» at the Museum
Galliera, and the «POP years» at the Centre Pompidou, until
Transphotographiques de Lille, are marked by the generosity of your
concern to transmit: you have never hesitated to multiply the
conferences at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Centre Georges Pompidou,
at the Swiss Cultural Centre in Paris, which is one of the most active
capital. I still remember the interview I had the pleasure and
the honor of doing with you for France Culture.
Fame gives you the opportunity to develop a more
personal photography. Fascinated by the sky and its colors, you
include a series of 17 shots taken at regular intervals
during the flight from Paris to Zurich, «flight portrait», which contrasts with your
fashion photographer. In 2008, the European
Photography presented a retrospective exhibition of your creations,
in which we also found your films, your books and your shorts
Through a very broad work, at the frontiers of disciplines, the
typographer, poster designer, painter and photographer, the
videographer that you are walk his gaze on everything and on all the
supports, to build from year to year a major work signed by
the one Annie Le Brun had so rightly called the “eye”.
Dear Peter Knapp, on behalf of the French Republic, we make you
Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters.
Dear Catherine de Smet,
Graphic design is an «international idiom»: this is how Jean expresses himself
Cocteau in his Journal d'un inconnu, thus explaining the fortune of
fascinating drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. For fifteen years,
you bring your stone to this building, building bridges between the banks of
architecture and graphic design, developing critical thinking and
history on graphic design in France.
Doctor of Art History from the Ecole des hautes études en sciences
(EHESS), your research has shed light on the
working methods of Le Corbusier and in particular the relationships he
engage with the actors of what we call today – with
the shameless mastery given us by centuries of printing - the
«chaîne graphique». Your book Vers une architecture du livre - Le
Corbusier, Edition and layout 1912 – 1965, is profoundly original
in so far as he is interested in the book object in its design and
typographical construction, in its size of paper monument.
Your precise and chiseled pen but also your expertise contribute to
enrich the annual review of the National Centre for Visual Arts (CNAP) or
Notebooks of the National Museum of Modern Art (MNAM)
Art Press. In an iconic article dedicated to the Centre’s logo
Pompidou created by Jean Widmer, you highlight how this
logo, a true visual heritage, contributes to the identity of the Centre
Pompidou, he is so attached to his building and the spirit of its design.
Discovery, passionate about publishing and typography - this
vast continent explored by book historian Robert Darnton through
the archives of the Typographical Society of Neuchâtel - you are
also an independent editor for the Centre d'art imprimé.
In this context, you have published two landmark works of art:
Lumières 1987 – 1993 by Jean-Marc Bustamante and 9
Jessica Stockholder (1998).
Allow me to pause for a moment on your academic background.
it is true that your place lies in the recognition of the history of design
graphic as a discipline in its own right. In turn, it is charged with teaching
history of graphic design at the University of Paris X Nanterre, at the
Fine Arts in Rennes, and at the Ecole supérieure d'art et de design in Amiens,
but also in charge of mission within the National School of
decorative arts (ENSAD), your career as a teacher-researcher
in the elaboration of a theoretical corpus on graphic design. You
are those who, with determination and talent, have moved the agenda forward
Archives and collections of graphic design, what
challenges for a discipline in construction?» in partnership with the
Rochester Institute of Technology and the Rennes Métropole Library.
You also contributed to the establishment of a research centre
on typology and graphic design at the Ecole supérieure d'art et design
of Amiens. Your constant and passionate investment in
research and creation has helped spread this discipline, but
also to constitute a heritage of known graphic works or
At home, research does not give in to the passion of the
transmission. Curator of several exhibitions, you have demonstrated
your willingness to share, transmit and share the creations
the most daring typographical and graphic heritages the
more diverse. The magnificent exhibitions for which
you were curator, the exhibition Wim Crouwel - Architectures
typographic, 1956 – 1972”, presented at the Anatome Gallery in 2007
or the exhibition «Doubles pages» presented at the Ecole des Beauxarts
In your eyes, studying and teaching graphic design is first to understand
social mechanisms at work in the formation of taste and in
the economy of symbolic exchanges, in other words explore its
social function is also to question the borders and their porosity between
the different disciplines that shape it, graphic art being
intrinsically linked to other artistic forms. Calligrams
from Apollinaire to the Lettrist movement of Isidore Isou, many examples
A formidable observatory uniting the humanities and the arts,
the history of graphic design is a melting pot. You have
greatly contributed to its inclusion in the cultural landscape and
you have made it a field of knowledge in its own right,
without forgetting to highlight the profession of «graphic designer»
who invests, without us always measuring, our daily universe.
Dear Catherine de Smet, for all these reasons, in the name of the
French Republic, we make you a Knight in the Order of Arts and
Dear François Alaux, Dear Hervé de Crécy, Dear Ludovic Houplain,
Logorama: a mastered blend of logos and slideshow
could assert a flaubertian dictionary of received ideas at this beginning
21st century. Graphic designers by training, you have a rich experience
the world of advertising, and more broadly, the image. Yet, you
have been able to keep a real distance with your work by diverting
codes with the little animation masterpiece that is Logorama.
This short film has been acclaimed by prestigious festivals such as the
Cinanima International Animated Film Festival
International Film Festival. He was spotted at the Sundance Film Festival
and especially rewarded with an Oscar in 2010, a César in 2011, or
still in Cannes and Clermont-Ferrand.
Your association within the H5 collective has made it possible to make your
personal assets in extremely diverse activities. Since
2002, you are gathered around different projects of realization and
graphic design. Films, posters, album covers, the H5 collective
has established itself in the world as a must in the
representativeness and visibility of people as products.
On the model of advertising, or international stars, you
have ensured a strong visual identity for French composers
Touch, these artists of electro music that export everywhere in the
world such as Air or Alex Gopher. Your choices have proven to be very wise
international groups, such as Massive Attack or
renowned French artists, I think of Etienne Daho, have wished to
appeal to you.
These first graphic designer weapons opened the door to you more
companies, Areva or Dior to name just a few, which
wanted you to direct their advertising clips. In addition to the
advertising, you made the cover of Peter Knapp’s catalogue,
also decorated today, published at Editions du Chêne in 2008. There are
a parallel between your career and that of Peter Knapp
since, like him, you were able to set up your own projects
through your advertising experience.
Finally, if at first the H5 collective may seem to be only a collective
artists masked under a strange pseudonym with chemical accents,
we can see, looking closer, that your creations were already
for many years everywhere on our screens and on many
It is all these years of close collaboration that have been able to make
your work and develop new projects. H5’s first film plays
already with an amazing process by replacing the signified with its signifier,
a principle dear to conceptual artists since Lawrence Weiner. In
this clip from Alex Gopher’s Child, the word is used instead of the thing.
Instead of seeing a car on the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s the word “car” that
moves on a bridge where the columns are represented by the word
«Brooklyn». This amazing creation foreshadows what Logorama will be,
when the characters, the streets, the cars, the sets, will not be
logos of major advertising brands. Through the
digital arts, you agree with the magnificent poet Francis Ponge
for whom the word is above all the thing.
In a cinematic atmosphere where Tex Avery fights the genre
from the road movie, the Michelin bibendums make rule law and order while
that the infamous Ronald Mac Donald steals a truck of merchandise. The little
Haribo is reprimanded by the Green Giant as he mocked the lion
saddened by the MGM, quietly installed in its cage at the Los Zoo
City of Angels, the city then houses all the markers of the society of
contemporary consumption transforming the famous protective angels
in marketing demons. Fortunately, there is the Esso pin-up that saves the
little Big Boy from Ronald’s hands then from the gigantic
land to find refuge in the only remaining place, a space
calm and green.
You say, dear Ludovic Houplain, that Logorama lies between two
worlds: art and cinema.» You use cinema as a medium
graphic and visual artistic expression. Recovering the logic of ready
made, you manage to make art with products and objects
trivialized of our daily lives, of those we no longer look at through
have seen them too much. To quote you, dear Hervé de Crécy, Works of art
are the only time you regain control over the brands.”
have thus made the yoke imposed by the «dictatorship of brands» the ground
privileged by your freedom as creators.
It’s fun to see how you hijacked your code
using 3,000 logos to orchestrate this film. Freed from the
constraint of the brand’s discourse, you have given these logos a
new function even if it means sometimes caricature the subject, especially when
One of the characters is crushed by the Weight Watchers logo.
Your film barely escaped a massive reaction from the
marks in so far as no image rights had been requested.
But quite rightly, you notice, Hervé de Crécy, that this film is not
not a pamphlet, but a right of reply to everything we are subjected to
daily”, the logo being in your eyes the most protected
when cultural values and symbols can be caricatured or
Alchemists of the digital society, you have associated in a set
art, cinema, image and advertising. Your combined efforts have
created a landmark creation, I am sure, in
the history of animation as in that of advertising. And even if
today two of you have left the H5 collective, I know that
each of you still has ambitious and innovative projects.
Your success reflects how much the ground of the «screen society», the
field of digital creation cannot be conceived and developed without the
values and principles underlying creation and innovation
artistic: a vision of the world, a poetic look.
Dear François Alaux, dear Hervé de Crécy, dear Ludovic Houplain, on behalf
of the French Republic, we make you Knights in the order of
Arts and Letters.