July 29, 2021

Thanks to the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, comics are (finally) entering the museum

It is an exceptional gesture. A figure in contemporary comics, François Boucq has decided to donate 350 of his drawings to the Palais des Beaux-Arts (PBA) in Lille. Plates, covers, illustrations and preparatory sketches by the author, Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême in 1998, will join the 55,000 works in the northern museum in the coming weeks, including masterpieces by Rubens, Goya or Delacroix. “Knowing that I might find myself in a drawer next to Raphael’s drawings, that does something to me”, smiles the 65-year-old designer, himself a native of Lille.

Read the review of the exhibition: François Boucq hijacks the great masters and dialogues with them

This donation, the first from a comic book author to a fine arts museum in France, took more than a year to materialize. Originally, François Boucq was looking for a way to ” to put [s]the originals in the fridge “, to prevent them from deteriorating. “I wanted to preserve part of my work”, he explains.

Happy coincidence, Bruno Girveau, the director of the PBA of Lille, wanted for his part to promote comics, of which he is a fan. “We had been thinking about how to signify that comics is a major art for several years. It seemed like a good answer to include it in our collections ”, justifies the former curator at the Musée d’Orsay.

The donation is all the more exceptional as the designer has left the museum free to choose the originals. “Initially, François Boucq thought to donate a hundred boards, representative of his comic book work. We agreed to extend the donation to all of his work ”, explains Mr. Girveau.

Read also the interview (2002): François Boucq, right hand of the Bouncer

A significant argument

Next to the essentials, like the boards and the cover of The Magician’s WifePrize for the best French album at the Angoulême Festival in 1986, the designer from Lille gave press illustrations, nudes, travel diaries … “We were also careful to keep sequences from the albums rather than isolated boards. Comics is an art of storytelling ”, pleads the director of the PBA.

Like François Boucq, more and more cartoonists are wondering about the future of their boards. “Many authors are now elderly and wonder how to preserve their work, which they do not want to see sold off or dispersed”, assures Benoît Peeters, screenwriter and historiographer of the 9e art. He himself gave, in 2013, in agreement with the designer François Schuiten, almost all of the originals of the eleven albums of the series. The Dark Cities to various public institutions, such as the National Library of France (BNF) or the King Baudouin Foundation, a Belgian philanthropic organization. “Entering a public collection is reassuring because the works become inalienable”, he judges.

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