Counting down to Angouleme – the exhibitions

Published On January 25, 2012 | By Joe Gordon | Comics, Continental Correspondent, Conventions and events

One of the main reasons for going to the bande dessinee festival in Angoulême, next to bumping into some of your heroes in the street and ending up having coffee with them, are the exhibitions.  It seems the organisers are trying to crank it up a notch with every edition.

Last year Art Spiegelman won the City of Angoulême Grand Prix, and, as tradition dictates, this makes him the acting president of this year’s edition, and his work the subject of one of the major exhibitions.  The Spiegelman show will be divided into two parts.  The first will focus on Maus and how it came to be.  Not only will the show feature all the original pages that make up the entirity of Maus, it will also include no less than 700 drawings, sketches, reference photographs and other documents.  Spiegelman is well-known for how he catalogues and archives his past (just have a look at MetaMaus, one of the best books of last year), so this should be a treat.  Next to Maus the show will also tell the history of Raw magazine, with plenty of original art and artifacts.

In addition to this exhibition, Spiegelman took over the Cité Internationale (the Angoulême comics museum) and built his own Museum on the History and Accomplishments of Comics.  He’s bringing along original artwork by some of those who inspired him, such as Windsor McCay, George Herriman and Harvey Kurtzman, but also from his contemporary peers, such as Justin Green, Jacques Tardi, Chris Ware, and Lorenzo Mattotti (what a roll call of top comic talent).  The show promises to be no less than a personal tribute of a master to the medium that he has helped to make great.

Next to Spiegelman, the festival pays hommage to another great creator, who’s probably less well-known beyond France and the French-speaking countries.  With his series Philémon, Fred has created one of the true great philosophical comics, while never ceasing to experiment with narrative structure, page design and language.  The exhibition will feature original plates from books like Magic Palace Hôtel (1980), La Magique lanterne magique (1983), L’Histoire du corbac aux baskets (1993, which won the award for Best Album at the Angoulême Festival in 1994) or L’Histoire du conteur électrique (1995).

Charles Berbérian created the icon for the show L’Europe Se Dessine, in which fifty cartoonists and comic artists from all over Europe visualise what Europe stands for, its origins, strengths and future.  Contributors include Enki Bilal, Milo Manara, Ruben Pellejero, Joost Swarte, Ulli Lust, Anouk Ricard, Nix, Florence Cestac, Andi Watson, Miguelanxo Prado, Kati Kovacs, and others.

More focus on international comics in two more exhibitions, one on Spanish comics (with artwork by Prado, Guarnido, Max, Bernet and more) and one on comics from Sweden (featuring Anneli Furmark, Loka Kanarp, Joanna Hellgren (Frances, Éditions Cambourakis), Knut Larsson, and more.

And I haven’t started to mention all the smaller shows that seem to pop up all over town.  It’s going to be a very full festival, but we’re not complaining !

See Wim’s prevous post in his Countdown to – looking at the Selection – here.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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