National Library of France
The Tower, original plate 41 (detail)
© Schuiten and Peeters | BnF, Rare Books Reserve
from May 6, 2014 to June 15, 2014 François-Mitterrand / Donors’ galleryWhat does the bequest from François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters actually mean? The series of albums donated by the artists is presented in the Donors’ gallery together with several scenari offered by his lifelong partner, Benoît Peeters. This exhibition does not only show an outstanding series of original plates of several albums of the Obscure cities. The bequest is also a major opportunity to enrich the national collections with a cult and founding series of graphic novels. Created by two high-school friends, in Belgium, in the early Eighties, the albums contribute to extending the popularity of comic books for adults. The genre finds its inspiration in literature and visual and highbrow references from Piranese to Robida. It is like nothing that was ever seen before in the field of comic books. In France, at the same moment, this new audience discovers magazines such as Métal Hurlant and particularly A suivre. Comic books become part of adult readings. The Obscure cities were created 30 years ago. The whole series of graphic novels has been published and read by a large audience reaching Japan and the United States. It is probably its content that makes the Obscure cities so successful. Actually, the album reinvents the idea of possible worlds, a topos of fantasy literature. From Alice in wonderland to philosophic creations of alternative worlds inspired by metaphysics, uchrony or utopian ideas, this reverie about the ‘other side’ has fueled the inspiration of authors and thinkers… The album’s success is based on the following assumption: the existence of an invisible planet which is an exaggerated, ironic, parodic or merely referential reflection of our world. What is particularly original is that the authors have never stopped making this hypothesis plausible through about fifteen albums, a few fake documentaries and many fictional lectures. So they gained the attention of an increasing number of readers.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014