If you didn't know that there are nine arts in this world, now it's the perfect time to update your hesitating memory with a thorough recap. Don't worry, you are not alone in your innocent ignorance: my knowledge had stopped at the seventh one and on second thought I'm not even sure I can recall the first six... But with a little help of our friend, the Internet, here they are, all nine, in disciplined order: 1. Architecture, 2. Sculpture, 3. Painting, 4. Music, 5. Poetry, 6. Dance, 7. Theater/Cinema, 8. Photography and 9. Comics. That's it, we can now brag about our distinguished erudition at some elevated French parties. If we ever get invited, that is.
I already knew what great buildings, sculptures, paintings and other artsy things Versailles possessed, but comics... this one still had progresses to make if it were to enter the public consciousness in this association. But since it's inconceivable that not all arts are represented in Versailles, this situation should have changed: every year since 2009 a comics exhibition of a guest star artist is organized in the superb settings of the City Hall's great room.
I must confess that I am yet to understand the French grown-ups' enthusiasm for comics (BD - bande dessinée) and, consequently, I am yet to discover what pushes them to collect entire libraries packed with particularly heavy comic strips volumes (ask those who have been invited to help a friend move his ginormous stockpile!) instead of collecting real books. I have come to France with the clear idea that comics are intended for children and even though the drawings in it can be outstandingly elaborate, this media looks to me a lot more simplistic than a book, in the amount of concepts and ideas conveyed.
Before throwing those tomatoes at me, let me narrate you the plot of the Thorgal series, illustrated by this year's esteemed guest of the "L'Expo BD Versailles 2013", Grzegorz Rosiński: once upon a time, there was an extraterrestrial humanoid who embarked on a state of the art spaceship with the specific mission to search for energy resources in the outer space, because their own planet was running out of it (warning, terrestrials, the same might happen to you too if you continue your reckless energy consumption!...). The brave man could not be separated from his beloved family so he took everyone and their cat along in the adventure. But the state of the art spaceship finished its warranty period and slowly began to rust and crack then hastily crashed on a bizarre planet that was named Earth by their even more bizarre dwellers, the Vikings. Of course there was an one and only survivor, a young boy with extraordinary extraterrestrial capacities, Thorgal Aegirsson, with whom fell in love immediately the beautiful blonde daughter of the Viking godfatha', Gandalf the Mad, who found and raised the lost super-child (he has a promising name, btw! This is a great idea on how to name some of our political leaders... the Mad, the Thief, the Annoying, etc...).
But the world in which he was thrown is cruel and Thorgal Aegirsson and Aaricia, his blonde siren, must fight for the acceptance of their multicultural couple in the society, while making sure that they will have enough descendants to pay for their retirement pensions and make the world a better place. After a long line of mishaps and situation reversals (with some long lost twin brothers/sisters found and a temporary complete loss of memory for each of the important characters), they might have lived happily ever after, but I still have to confirm this with someone who actually read the series.
Enough talking, here you have a few pictures from the exhibition, and know that I've found it fascinating:
I might venture to say that this passion for comic strips keeps the French in the childhood nostalgia and in a refusal to grow up, but then I have seen other serious adults collecting miniature Santas or paper napkins so I am not that sure anymore...
Now I can wholeheartedly say that ALL ARTS are represented in Versailles (even the one that's off the record: l'art de la guerre, the art of war).