Each time I visit Paris I think, maybe this time I’ll make it to the Louvre. There are so many things to see and do, however, that I never seem to get there. A quick eyeballing of the swarms in the Louvre’s main courtyard and the throng serpentining in front of its entrance is enough to deter me. Besides, I can spend 3 to 4 hours in a museum that is one-tenth the size and after that length of time, I need a break anyway. Earlier this week, however, I decided to visit an exhibit at the Comics Art Museum in Brussels that gave me a taste of the Louvre while also indulging my love of bandes dessinées.
An Easy Day Trip
Happily, with France’s highspeed trains, Brussels is just 80 minutes away and the thrill of an air-cushioned ride, while traveling at speeds exceeding 180 mph, makes for a fun day trip. My husband Andy and I love to walk and the route from the train station to the museum afforded a perfect way for us to explore the center of Brussels on foot. Unfortunately, many streets, and the famous Grand Place, were encumbered with construction fences, work crews and equipment, mounds of dirt, and a fair amount of litter, so I did not come away with the shining impression of Brussels I’d been expecting. Nevertheless, our final destination was well worth joining the hoards of tourists that jostled along the narrow walkways bordered by construction barriers.
An Ingenious Partnership
Since 2005, the French publisher Futuropolis has been partnering with the Louvre to create a collection of graphic novels that is anchored by the museum’s history, art collection, and architecture. Over the years, 20 exceptional cartoonists have been given carte blanche access in order to shine a contemporary light on the centuries-old institution. The result is a spectacular collection of illustrated stories that allow readers to discover the richness of the museum’s offerings without ever stepping inside. The 150 original frames from these novels, currently on display at the Comics Art Museum, exceeded my already high expectations of a spectacular exhibit. Below is a small sampling.
The Louvre through the Eyes of…
You may recognize the name of Stephane Levallois who has worked on several Hollywood blockbusters, creating the fantastic worlds in films like Alien, King Kong, and Harry Potter.
Nicola de Crécy
[Pay no attention to the man in front of the curtain.]
This panel doesn’t do justice to Taniguchi’s talents. I’ve written more about him here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a bit of my meta-visit to the Louvre. Have any favorites? In case you’re interested, the online bookstore Lireka carries all of the books featured in the exhibit. The average price is 18 euros (under $19) and the cost of shipping to the United States is ONLY 1 cent.
These artists are all new to me. Thanks for the introductions.
Glad to be if service. The world of bandes dessinées is full of wonderful artists.
me too – especially enjoyed this post, Carol!
Bilal is very good. I have several of his albums. The others. must be new… But worth it. That museum is one of my favourites. Are you still in Brussels? Go to Magritte if you still can.
I wish we’d had time to see Magritte. I guess that means I have to return. 🙂
That’s as good an excuse as will be…
Greetings from London. Are you still travelling?
(I need to get back to Meaulnes…)
Toujours en France. Viens de fêter le 14 au Vieux port de Marseille. Magnifique! Je pars samedi, le 16.
Marseille est sympa. Nous allons nous croiser. Coming back to Paris from London demain… Bon voyage…
À Marseille, j’ai dû arrêter Meaulnes pour lire Total Khéops par Jean-Claude Izzo.
J’ai rattrapé Meaulnes un peu…
PS. I know Yslaire too. He’s a good artist.
Looks excellent! I need to get over to Paris at some point. Not been since around 2000. Must… indulge… in great culture like this.
We have Manchester Art Gallery here, though. Not quite on the same level, but it does have some fancy stuff.
“Indulge” is a great word for basking in the cultural glory of Paris. So far, I feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface. Hope you find time to make the trip.
I envy you! I always found going to the Louvre on a weekday and as soon as it opens helps enormously. I do love small Parisian museums, too. Musée Jacquemart-André is very fun.
One of these days I hope to get there Laura. Thanks for the tips. I also learned of but didn’t have time to see a museum called the Musée Marmottan Monet. There are so many smaller gems like this one that I always end up feeling like the Louvre can wait.
It’s not surprising that the Louvre is crowded. That’s happening with tourist attractions in general. As the world gets more prosperous, more and more people can afford to travel. The Covid pandemic discouraged travel for a while, but now the pent-up demand is coming out. I’m sure Laura Jones is right that going early and on a weekday helps. I do that with restaurants to avoid crowds.
I’m fairly familiar with Enki Bilal’s work, but I didn’t realize he was French. The name sounds like something from ancient Sumerian, if anything. I wasn’t familiar with the other artists shown here — I guess I’m out of touch. Prudhomme’s drawing of a Mesopotamian carving is impressive.
That must be quite something riding on a train at 180 miles per hour. In Japan I rode one that went at 130 miles an hour, which was considered fast at the time (1995). Wonder if we’ll ever get high-speed rail in the US.
I wouldn’t expect people to know these artists unless that were really into bande dessinée or graphic novels. I looked up Bilal. His parents immigrated to France from Yugoslavia when he was 5. How did you know of him?
Good question regarding high-speed train in the U.S. It seems a long way off. People here really appreciate mass transit. It’s been so nice seeing people of all ages and all walks of life boarding buses, and trams, and metro cars, and commuter trains. Bike share is everywhere, including electric bikes. Such an advantage for young people that are years away from owning a car. I don’t know how Uber or taxi drivers can even make a living in this country.
How did you know of him?
Years ago I was an avid reader of a magazine called Heavy Metal which featured the work of various graphic-novel artists, mostly Belgian, French, and Spanish, also some American and Italian, largely science-fiction and fantasy themes. Bilal appeared there fairly frequently. Heavy Metal was either inspired by, or a translation of, a French magazine called Metal Hurlant.
The US would seem to be a natural for high-speed rail, given the huge size of the country, but I agree that it’s a long way off. The investment would be enormous and the car lobbies are too powerful. Yet another way in which we’re falling behind.
I’ve definitely seen excerpts from and known of other contributors to Metal Hurlant. Maybe I should pick up a copy while I’m in France.
What a fun post, thanks!
Thanks Emma. I really enjoyed that exhibit. Well worth the trip.
I love seeing these perspectives of the Louvre from all over the world. Thank you for your post!
What an array! Great fun!
Yes and this is a tiny sampling.
What a delightful tour! Hard to pick a favorite, but Levallois and Chavouet particularly struck me. So glad you’re enjoying this trip. I must double back to your previous post tomorrow. (I have ongoing techie problems that require me to put a lot of thought into making these connections if I miss a post the day it appears.)
And yes–it’s a damn shame we don’t have high-speed rail in the US.
Yes. I thought Levallois was extraordinary Annie. I don’t recall the details but remember that when the Louvre was featuring a DaVinci exhibit, they used Levallois’ art in the promo materials.
Good luck with your tech trials and thanks for reading Annie.
Happy Bastille Day! (As I assume it is by now, over there.)
Merci! In Marseille. Survived a heavily trafficked bike ride along the Mediterranean this morning.
I’ve always wanted to visit Paris- hopefully I can someday. It’s so fascinating to see all these artists different styles. Really interesting post.
I hope you can too Pooja. I think you’d love it.