Louvre? Some Kind of Brothel, Right?

Visitors from the future puzzle over the Louvre's treasures in Nicolas de Crecy's comic strip. [Source: Nicolas de Crecy/NPR]
[Source: Nicolas de Crecy/NPR]

What would archaeologists of the future imagine if they dug deep into the rubble of Paris and unearthed the treasures of the Louvre?  That’s the concept behind a comic strip about the Louvre now on exhibit there. It’s the first exhibition of bandes dessinees ever mounted in the palace of high art, though you must descend to the depths of its medieval stone moat (excavated only in the 1980s) to view the comics. According to NPR:

The three strips currently on display are in fact drawings from the first three comic books ever published by the Louvre. One, by artist Nicolas de Crecy, is set thousands of years in the future and features a museum guide who is a cross between a pig and a dog.

De Crecy’s pig-dog can speak intelligently about all of the museum’s art objects — from the naked pre-Hellenic statuary to the Mona Lisa. In the strip, he’s charged with leading a group of archaeologists through the museum. But the archaeologists, who believe they have discovered a lost city preserved beneath a glacier, get almost everything wrong when they look at the art.

“When they saw the name E. Delacroix they think that it means Delacroix House and they conclude that it’s a bordel, it’s a whorehouse,” says [exhibit curator Fabrice] de Crecy.

The scientists’ tendency to make uninformed conclusions about what they find in the museum — rather than merely appreciating the objects for their own beauty — is a not-too-subtle swipe at pointy-headed academics.

Overall, Douar argues that the exhibit is more than just a tip of the hat to contemporary pop art. He says that bandes dessinees have a pedigree as old as any of the Louvre’s holdings from the Renaissance — from tapestries that tell stories to the work of the great Italian painter Carpaccio, who did a series of works telling the story of St. Ursula. Listen.

See The Louvre embraces comics for first time/AP/IHT 012209

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