1932 - The S.F.I.O.

1932 - The S.F.I.O.

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  • S.F.I.O. Gathering.

  • The sweep.

  • “Work, bread! »- Poster of the S.F.I.O. (French section of the workers' international).

    ZÉNOBEL Pierre (1905 - 1996)

© Contemporary Collections

© Contemporary Collections

“Work, bread! »- Poster of the S.F.I.O. (French section of the workers' international).

© ADAGP, Library of Contemporary International Documentation / MHC

Publication date: April 2007

Historical context

1932, an electoral turning point

In the 1913 elections, the socialist party S.F.I.O., led by Jean Jaurès and the growing mobilization of the popular electorate, obtained the greatest number of votes. However, quickly disappointed with joining the IIIe International imposed from Moscow, many activists join the S.F.I.O. Aware of the confusion that reigned eight years earlier, the Socialists decide to lead a much more incisive campaign which clearly identifies them between radical-socialists and communists.

Image Analysis

The red banner is raised

This series of three posters was put up to mobilize the electorate behind the S.F.I.O. Three figures of a young man, penciled in, are particularly dynamic against the red background, a color common to socialists and communists.

In the poster for the rally, the red is that of the banner of the revolutionary party, divided since 1920, but part of the long history of the labor movement. By his attitude, the character recalls both the cohort of protests, whether they date from before 1914, the war or the more recent crisis. The hand clenched like a fist on the shaft and the open mouth letting through the cry "Gathering!" »Mark the determination in the struggle. The gaze fixed on the horizon underscores the hope placed in the upcoming elections. The raised right arm, extended hand, is a direct reference to the mobilization posters of the Great War.

In the sweeping poster, this time red forms a tornado which sweeps away, with a vigorous broom sweep, the Stock Exchange (palace and money), the army (boat, plane, kepi). general, saber) and the Church (bottle brush, cross). The character is happy and serene at the same time, and his silhouette enhanced with small lively lines evokes the dynamics of change. His weapon is a nod to the famous poster created by the Russian Moor in 1920, which featured a malicious Lenin sweeping across the globe popes, speculators and nobles.

In the drawing by Pierre Zenobel (1905-1996), red colors a unique background, which is obvious to the eye; in red also, like an echo, reads the call for voters' choice (the S.F.I.O. vote). This poster is the most "social" of the three, in terms of its slogan as well as its composition. The framing is tight on the face of a young man who seems to chant the slogan. The contrast between the clear - neck and shoulders offered to the light, fragile - and the shaded dark - forehead, eyes turned towards the future, mouth as black as the hearth - dramatizes the drawing.


The socialist revolution

The Left Union, the timid heir to a Cartel that has left bad memories, also foreshadows the Popular Front established in 1935 between radical-socialists, socialists and communists. The economic crisis and the political crisis already imposed in 1932 the slogans that would triumph in 1936. Against the scattering of the left forces and the splits, the S.F.I.O. calls for a rally and a hardening of the struggle. Against the traditional powers of Capital, the Army and the Church, the Socialists urge to turn away from the past and to look resolutely to the future. Finally, against the growing misery and the incredible unemployment which particularly affects young people, they believe they must place social demands at the heart of the countryside. The short slogans, the omnipresent red color, the fruitful link between text and image, give considerable visual strength to the three posters. They bear witness to the renewed vigor of a party which has not given up on its revolutionary past, but which wishes to conquer and exercise power in a democratic and popular way.

  • red flag
  • propaganda
  • socialism
  • Third Republic
  • Poincaré (Raymond)
  • Jaurès (Jean)
  • SFIO


Maurice AGULHON, The Republic, volume II, “1932 to the present day”, Paris, Hachette, coll. “Pluriel”, new enlarged edition, 1990. Jean-Jacques BECKER and Gilles CANDAR (eds.), History of lefts in France, volume II, "20th century, put to the test of history", Paris, La Découverte, 2004. Dominique BORNE and Henri DUBIEF, The Depression of the 1930s (1929-1938), Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points", 1989.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, “1932 - The S.F.I.O. "

Video: PARIS 1900. 1930 La Belle époque, France, expo 1900 Marc Lavoine


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