Citroën Cruises: advertising and colonialism in the interwar period

Citroën Cruises: advertising and colonialism in the interwar period


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Home ›Studies› Citroën Cruises: advertising and colonialism in the interwar period

  • Citroën autochenille of the Black Cruise.

  • "A visit to the Black Cruise exhibit".

    BESSE

  • The black cruise, film from the Citroën-Center-Africa exhibition.

    BY SMET F.

To close

Title: Citroën autochenille of the Black Cruise.

Author :

Creation date : 1920

Date shown: 1922

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Storage place: National museums and domain of Compiègne website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Arnaudet

Picture reference: 90CE5325 / CMV 1986

Citroën autochenille of the Black Cruise.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Arnaudet

To close

Title: "A visit to the Black Cruise exhibit".

Author : BESSE (-)

Creation date : 1926

Date shown: 1926

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Storage place: Quai Branly Museum - Jacques Chirac website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzisite web

Picture reference: 98CE1422

"A visit to the Black Cruise exhibit".

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

To close

Title: The black cruise, film from the Citroën-Center-Africa exhibition.

Author : BY SMET F. (-)

Creation date : 1926

Date shown: 1926

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Storage place: Quai Branly Museum - Jacques Chirac website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzisite web

Picture reference: 00DE835 / 4934 fol. GMH 10

The black cruise, film from the Citroën-Center-Africa exhibition.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

The Black Cruise, part of the colonial adventure, the car raid and the advertising campaign, was born from the will of one man, André Citroën. Finally, the White Cruise took place in 1934 on the North American continent, traveling from Chicago to Alaska.

Image Analysis

The adventurers travel in "all-terrain" vehicles built by the factories of André Citroën and for which the latter acquired a patent for rubber tracks in 1920. The various Cruises aim to test the vehicle and, more generally, to popularize the cars of the chevron brand. The 10 HP autochrack shown here with a trailer is imposing; during the crossing of the Sahara in 1922, it rolls at a speed varying between 5 and 20 km / h depending on the terrain and consumes 30 liters per hundred kilometers! We find her in the background of a poster, behind a hieratic native dressed in a sort of skirt. The artist has treated the subject with a deliberate schematism: the character is depicted in a stylized and almost naive manner, as if it were a figurine; the landscape, with its two palm trees, seems like a stage set; the image is surrounded by geometric patterns. The movie poster The Black Cruise shows a black woman seen in profile, with a disproportionately stretched face and an incredible hairstyle: here, the drawing is on the contrary outrageous, which makes it a caricature of doubtful taste. The film, which premiered at the Opera, is both an advertisement for half-tracks and a testimony to exotic civilizations. Projected to school children, admired by Hergé who was inspired by it in Tintin in Congo, it was very successful.

Interpretation

If Citroën had other strokes of genius (such as the illumination of the Concorde, the Arc de triomphe and the Eiffel Tower), the Cruises are its "most beautiful advertising flagships". They made it possible to publicize its vehicles, but also to praise the quality of a material resistant to extreme conditions (which did not prevent Citroën from filing for bankruptcy in 1934). By their aesthetics and their objectives, these posters bear witness to the colonialist prejudices in force in France in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1924, The morning celebrates the Black Cruise with the headline: "Tourism in the land of fear and thirst". The colonial empire, in fact, acquired a crucial place in the national economy and imagination: the share it represented in French trade rose from 13% in 1913 to 27% in 1933, air links between Europe and Africa are becoming regular, the patriotism of African soldiers during the Great War is legendary. Citroën's expeditions thus contributed to the conquest of public opinion, since they aroused, like the Colonial Exhibition of 1931, "the passionate interest of a very large public, enamored at the same time of technique, record and 'exoticism' (Raoul Girardet, The Colonial Idea in France from 1871 to 1962, La Table Ronde, 1972, p. 114).

  • automobile
  • Citroën cruises
  • colonial history
  • exoticism
  • publicity
  • overseas
  • caricature
  • colonies
  • public opinion

Bibliography

Denise MOUTH History of French colonization , volume II, "Flux et reflux (1815-1962)" Paris, Fayard, 1991.Raoul GIRARDET The Colonial Idea in France from 1871 to 1962 Paris, La Table Ronde, 1972, reprint Hachette, coll. "Plural", 1995.Jacques MARSEILLE Colonial Empire and French Capitalism: A History of Divorce Paris, A.Michel, 1984. Krishna RENOU Motor cruises Paris, The Book of Paris, 1988 Fabien SABATÈS The Black Cruise Paris, E.T.A.I., 1980.Sylvie SCHWEITZER André Citroën (1878-1935) .The risk and the challenge Paris, Fayard, 1992.

To cite this article

Ivan JABLONKA, "Les Croisières de Citroën: publicity and colonialism in the interwar period"


Video: The Interwar Period: AP European History


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