Cruising Through the Louvre
The latest graphic novel from the international series set in the Louvre Museum is by David Prudhomme. In Cruising Through the Louvre, instead of a story centered on the many works of art the museum contains, he focuses on those who come to see it.
The pages appear to be reproduced from pencils, giving everything a smudgy look, without strong definition between the viewers and the art viewed. That’s part of his point, but stylistically, the eye doesn’t have many resting points, blurring elements together. I also didn’t care for the opening, where the artist has a cell-phone conversation about the progress of his book. (Later, he acknowledges that in real life, taking phone calls in the museum is against the rules.) Like hearing someone in a real museum, I found it a self-centered distraction.
There’s no story here, just a journey through various galleries with various inhabitants. Some individual images are interesting, particularly in juxtaposition between life and art — a teacher surrounded by kids in front of a picture of the Virgin Mary surrounded by angels, a striking woman viewing the Mona Lisa — but I found the people too often appearing insubstantial. It’s hard to make out details at times.
I expect a book like this to make me want to visit the museum, and Cruising Through the Louvre was surprisingly ineffective in this regard. It all blurs together as I turn the pages, without the ability to understand the appeal of particular pieces. A later theme, about a flying head and body parts, was insightful but vaguely off-putting. This is a better memento, after visiting the Louvre, than an invitation.
“You can drown yourself quickly here,” says our narrator. That’s true, particularly as so much of the book is a grey wash, sweeping over without drawing the reader into the images. Find out more at the publisher’s website; they provided a review copy.