Monumental frescoes in Chaumont, capital of graphics

Chaumont is preparing to host the 4th Biennale of Graphic Design. But the city of Haute-Marne is now also opening its streets to artists. Among them is the graphic designer Philippe Baudelocque, who has just finished a monumental fresco.

The International Graphic Design Biennale 2023, organized by Le Signe, will take place from May 22 to October 31 in Chaumont, Haute-Marne. An event for a city with 22,000 inhabitants that has become a graphic design mecca in thirty years.

It all started in 1990, when the municipality launched its first poster festival. For two years, the Chaumontais buildings also became a creative medium. Frescoes appeared at the entrances to the city to create a graphic urban route.

Graphic talents

In June 2021, a talent call was announced internationally. Among the sixty applications received, five were chosen: Justine Figueiredo, Simon Renaud, Philippe Baudelocque, Grégoire Romanet and Atelier Baudelaire. This is a fresco Justine Figueiredo baptized Playable surfaces which started this pictorial journey in 2021. A proposal that highlights the game of backgammon, checkers, backgammon, yellow and even a windmill.

Cosmic tree

Philippe Baudelocque has just completed his, on the water tower at the Ashton roundabout. A gigantic tree with graphic and cosmic branches. For a former graduate of the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris, what is happening in Chaumont is unique. “There is none here As far as I know, there is no equivalent in the world. Working on walls painted by people other than street art feels great! They don’t ask the same questions and what they propose is very different.”

In 2016, Philippe Baudelocque participated Lasca The Palais de Tokyo project in Paris. For his first major project at a cultural site, he cleared a monumental staircase – between a spatial elevation and a fall into an abyss. In 2018, he created permanent wall drawings at the Châtelet – Les Halles station.

A fresco represents him in Chaumont AND an organic shape full of geometric patterns and symbols, the result of a “codified improvisation”, we can read on the city’s website. “Each motif is thought out in advance, but the artist himself does not know the final result.”

Tree "cosmic" Philippe Baudelocque interrupts one of the entrances to the city of Chaumont.  (France 3 Champagne-Ardenne)

Chaumont and graphics

At the beginning of the connection that connects the city of Chaumont with graphic design is a man, Gustave Dutailly. His name probably doesn’t mean anything to you. A former general councilor and deputy for the Haute-Marne department, three times elected to the National Assembly in 1881, 1885 and 1898 on the radical extreme left, he was also an important botanist. Holder of the Department of Botany at the University of Lyon, he was also the Director of the Botanical Garden of the Tête-d’or Park, which is the pride of the capital of Gaul.

In addition to his passion for nature and politics, Dutailly was also a great collector. His hobby? Books and documentary albums, but also advertising pictures and illustrated advertising posters.

Gustave Dutailly, the fabulous collector.  (DR)

In 1905, a year before his death, Dutailly bequeathed his collection of 5,000 posters that reflect the golden age of advertising at the end of the 19th century to the town of Chaumont and its library.

From poster to graphics

In 1990, to revive and give continuity to this treasure, the city decided to create a poster festival with an international competition involving 7,000 graphic designers. After thirty years, the collected posters form a unique database of more than 27,000 posters in the world. They first gathered in the Maison du livre et de l’poster opened in 1994 and today they are exhibited in Signe, the National Center for Graphics opened in October 2016, on an area of ​​1000 m², which offers year-round temporary exhibitions. In 2016, the Poster Festival also turned into the Graphic Design Biennale. The program for the year 2023 can be found here.

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