“Brassens Danse.” ©Joann Sfar and courtesy Cité de la Musique.
“Georges Brassens au métro Glaciére avec un sans abri, 1953.” (Georges Brassens at the Metro Glaciere with a homeless man, 1953.) ©Robert Doisneau and courtesy Cité de la Musique.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak
If there are four things the French adore, they are: anniversaries, anarchists, comics, and Georges Brassens. The new exhibition at the Cité de la Musique at the parc La Villette in the north of Paris, co-curated by comics giant Joann Sfar (author of “The Rabbi’s Cat” comics series and director of the film “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life”) testifies to all these amours in a giant way, commemorating the 90th anniversary of the birth and 30th of the death of Brassens, France’s signature poet-troubador, in an creatively curated exhibition that uses comics to help revive the anarchist the patina of nostalgia has often obscured.
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Besides Tintin, among the 68% of lots on offer sold during Artcurial’s Paris Bandes Desinées (Comics) and Hergé sales last week-end which helped the auction house gross $4.72 million, surpassing its pre-sale estimates by nearly $500,000, was, above, a rare Sunday color strip from George Herriman (1880 -1944)’s surrealistic “Krazy Kat” strip. The china ink and watercolor signed and framed original, measuring 57 x 37 cm, is one of only 12 remaining color strip originals.. Estimated pre-sale at 35,000 – 45,000 Euros, the lot sold for 38,300 Euros, or $40,598. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial.
It may represent just one small step for Tintin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock, but the price paid by a European collector Saturday at Artcurial Paris for the original page depicting the Hergé characters’ landing on the moon from the 1954 “On a marché sur la lune” (We walked on the moon) represented one giant leap for Tintin-kind: 1,553,312 Euros ($1,646,510), doubling Artcurial’s pre-sale estimate of 700,000 – 900,000 Euros and the most ever paid for a single original page by Hergé. An ensemble of the originals for 20 Christmas-themed cards created in 1942-43, meanwhile — pre-sale estimated at 60,000 – 120,000 Euros a pop by the leading auction house for all things Tintin — yielded a total of 1.5 million Euros, or $1.5 million. It’s enough to leave even a life-long Tintin fan… speechless. Above: Hergé (Georges Rémi dit), historic page from the album “On a marché sur la lune,” published in 1954. Copyright Hergé / Moulinsart 2016. — Paul Ben-Itzak
Hergé (Georges Rémi dit): Snow card, China ink and watercolor on paper, 1942/43, original drawing and printed edition. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 60,000 – 120,000 Euros / $66,000 – 132,000 (each). Copyright Hergé / Moulinsart 2016.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak
Several years ago, taking the Thalys train from Paris to Brussels, I encountered a young Belgian psychologist who related how her grandmother had escaped from arriving at the death camps by jumping naked from a speeding train. So when I saw that the 20 original China ink drawings for a series of Christmas cards featuring Tintin and other characters — being auctioned off by Artcurial in Paris tomorrow for prices pre-sale estimated at a whopping $66,000 – $132,000 apiece — were designed by Hergé in 1942-43, I found it problematic that at a time when Belgian Jews were being deported from the occupied country to their deaths, Hergé was producing happy-go-lucky, business-as-usual Christmas cards to be sold to luckier Belgians.
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