Le monde d’Hergé

15.09.2016 – 15.01.2017

For September 2016, mudac welcomes Hergé as its guest of honour. This exhibition is an invitation to the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve and was designed in partnership with mudac. Featuring original artwork, archive documents, photos and unpublished work, the exhibition looks back on the maestro’s world, with its clear lines, and unveils its treasures. The exhibition, aimed at an audience aged 7 to 77, also seeks to present lesser-known aspects of a genius who was an illustrator, caricaturist, poster designer and graphic artist all rolled into one. Original documents and artefacts confirm, if proof were needed, that Hergé’s work has a rightful place in the museum, both as a pioneer of the comic book on a global stage and also as a witness to 20th century history.
This is the second time that mudac has partnered with the BDFIL festival. In 2010, it opened its doors to Titeuf and his gang in Zep: The Sketched Portrait, and mudac is now taking a closer look at the graphic artwork of Hergé, acknowledged by all in the field to be the king of the graphic novel. In this exhibition, mudac tackles new themes around graphic novels and cartoons, an area that it aims to spotlight by means of its exhibitions.
The early career of Georges Remi, Hergé’s real name, is traced through an array of originals that have rarely been put on public display: advertising material, posters and sketchbooks. While he mainly worked as an illustrator, it was during this period that he created the character of Totor, a resourceful Boy Scout, considered the forerunner to Tintin. Hergé would invent a large number of heroes, notably Quick and Flupke and Jo, Zette and Jocko, for the pages of the Petit Vingtième, a weekly children’s supplement published by the Belgian daily Le Vingtième Siècle. So when their author turned his hand to the comic strip, Tintin made his debut in the Petit Vingtième in 1929. The young reporter’s first story featured a journey to the land of the Soviets. The exhibition focuses particularly on China. This country played an important role in Hergé’s career, because of a change in his working methods made after his 1934 encounter with the Chinese artist Zhang Chongren, then a student at the Académie des beaux-arts in Brussels, who was the inspiration for the character Chang Chong-Chen. He then started carrying out more serious research and developed a new attention to realism, which shows through for the first time in The Blue Lotus. This emblematic book, the cornerstone in the Adventures of Tintin, reflects the profound transformation in the saga as it developed into a major work.
A further room is dedicated to original media which served as vehicles for the adventures of Tintin and other heroes that sprang from the Hergé imagination, in particular the journal Tintin. It also includes objects from the era, such as figurines, stamps and notepaper. This room also traces the evolution of Hergé’s graphic style and the development of such characters as Tintin, Snowy, Captain Haddock and Thomson and Thompson. A large array of original artwork bears witness to the birth of a comic strip and documents Hergé’s working practices, from early research to a finished panel, by way of the first sketches. The documents on display represent a series of images showing the long process ultimately leading to a printed book. In addition, there is a whole room devoted solely to forty original plates showing how the author’s work developed over the course of time. Interesting objects, such as Hergé’s writing desk and old merchandising, complemented by audiovisual media, immerse us in the designer’s creative world. The exhibition concludes with a life-size mural featuring all the characters who have played a part in the quiffed reporter’s adventures.