Critics’ Picks

Florent Rupert and Jérôme Mulot, Dècoupe 2, 2007, ink on paper, 6 1/4 x 12 3/4".

New York

“Made in France: Eight Artists and the Graphic Novel”

63 Spring Street
January 10–February 23

Bande dessinée (literally, “cartoon”) is an expansive French term that encompasses all forms of graphic storytelling, whose variety of subjects and styles are reflected in writer and curator Alexis Nolent’s choice of artists for this exhibition, titled “Made in France.” The genre has evolved into an international art form whose range of aesthetic approaches is visible even within the work of a single artist. The show includes elder statesmen like Italian cartoonist Sergio Toppi, whose traditional application of materials contrasts with that of the duo Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot, the youngest participating artists. Their panel Découpe, 2007, presents two rows of simple, gesturing figures. However, in the adjacent diptych, Découpe 2, 2007, the identical figures are sliced and dismantled by lines, allegorizing the artist and demonstrating how Ruppert and Mulot depict even a brutal gesture with playful whimsy. The exhibition includes many fine-art contributions, whose conventions often inform the graphic artists’ storyboards. The dense, intricate details and dark colors of Christian Lax’s bandes contrast with the subtle, evocative line work of his elegant ink-and-watercolor nudes. Cinema informs Christian de Metter’s original board for Vers le Démon, 2006, in which ink squares of varying sizes sit flush on the page, shifting in perspective as if mimicking the movement of a camera. Although viewers get a rare close-up of original storyboards, gallery director Tim Nye has also converted and enlarged some of the pieces into wallpaper to immerse the spectator in the details of the work. Meanwhile, a catalogue comprising individual pamphlets for each artist mimics the experience of the comic book.