Hergé Retrospective in Paris
Honoring the creator of Tin-Tin at the Grand Palais.
A mystical, all-encompassing window into an alternate reality, the art of the comic lies in simplistic images and a curious lingering of past and present within each frame- marking an international language that traverses trajectories of time and space.
Considered to be the father of the European comic strip, Belgian cartoonist and The Adventures of Tintin author Georges Rem is fluent in this ubiquitous language. A revolutionary figure across the transcontinental art scene, his panoptic lifework is broad in scope and revered by both children and adults. The prolific artist, known as Hergé, has certainly left his mark on the world, extending far beyond the crisp pages of Franco- Belgian comics. First appearing in Le Petit Vingtième in Brussels in 1929, Tintin has become one of the most celebrated cartoon characters from Paris to Berlin.
Hergé’s greatest challenge was foregrounded in the space of the comic as a medium which he wished to deconstruct to “show exactly what is necessary and sufficient to understand the story; nothing more, nothing less." This idea lead him to his signature style known as la ligne claire- using a clear uniform line to create objects and figures through the same outline. A form of visual literacy, this hergéan aesthetic challenges the limits of “the comic”- placing simplistic characters against a more intricate landscape to create a surreal experience.
One of the most influential comic book artists in history, his ‘clear line style’ has been implemented globally by renowned cartoonists such as Pierre Culliford, creator of the Smurfs and Albert Uderzo, the mastermind behind Asterix. Abandoning a technique of shading known as “hatching,” Hergé mainly worked with precise lines to create a story driven by the simple use of line and space. The precision and clarity of the line strips the drawings of more complex forms of shading, while rendering the images with a certain readability in narrative storytelling. The expressionless, neutral characteristic of the line work explores more of the human psyche than meets the eye. The absence of expression is remarkable, acting as a blank screen that projects the emotions, desires, fears, and apprehensions of its viewers- making the whimsical caricature a memento of the past, the present, and the future of the comic world.
The emblematic artist expressed in 1969, “I hope [comic book art] will have its rightful place, that it will become an expression in itself like literature or cinema.” Decades later, his work continues to be explored in depth as a source of inspiration for cartoonists and artists in the twenty-first century. Hergé’s iconic oeuvre has recently been exhibited at Grand Palais in Paris and will feature his original cartoons, posters and lettering, and abstract paintings from the 1960s. One of the first times the works will be on display, the extensive retrospective will follow Hergé’s evolution as an artist-from the simplicity of early newspaper comic strips to his more sophisticated later works.
The Hergé exhibition will be on view at the Grand Palais through January 15.
More about the exhibition here.
Written by Jasmine Ashoori
All images via Juxtapoz