It is from the heart of Italy, under the pencil strokes of a Yugoslav designer, that this very original comic strip is born which takes us back to Renaissance Europe to meet some of the greatest artists: from Leonardo da Vinci in Velasquez, from Dürer to Bruegel, in total a dozen artists to rediscover! A burlesque journey into the world of Art History where the buffoon side prevails. A beautiful invitation to spatiotemporal travel for art lovers.
Follow the thread ...
"Au fil de l'Art" is a project by Gradimir and Ivana Smudja. Gradimir is a Yugoslav painter living in Italy, who also shines with his talents as a draftsman and caricaturists. Based in Tuscany, Ivana is a graduate of the artistic high school in Lucca and the European Institute of Design in Milan. It is therefore from Italy, cradle of the Renaissance, that this atypical approach to the history of art in comics comes to us.
The reader is invited to follow a young artist and her temperamental cat resembling Chat Botté. Tying their feet in a red thread, they are immersed in time alongside prehistoric men painting the walls of the Lascaux cave. Seeking to return to their time, they constantly follow this common thread which takes them from era to era and makes them meet some of the greatest artists of our history, or more precisely of the 15th / 17th centuries in Europe.
Between history and eccentricities
These travels in time will allow the young artist to meet Leonardo da Vinci painting "the Last Supper" and "the Mona Lisa", Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, Dürer and his engravings, Peter Brueghel the Elder tormented by his Tower of Babel, Rubens always in search of plump models, Velasquez and his famous painting “The Meninas”, El Greco the astigmatic, Rembrandt and the journey of his painting “The Night Watch” intended for the Amsterdam militia, Jan Vermeer painting "the milkmaid" and "the lady with the pearl" ...
As this enumeration shows, the authors did not settle for Italian artists, but paid tribute to European artists. Each of them is introduced by a bibliographic record, short, but well made, allowing the reader to put on each name an era, a few works, sometimes a style. In other words, through these bibliographic records perfectly integrated into the comic strip, "Au fil de l'Art" is presented as a beautiful initiation into the History of Renaissance Art.
After each bibliographic record follows a short story between the artist, the young girl and her cat. The style of the drawing allows you to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of an era, while keeping a very cartoonish and comical side. Gradimir is not a caricaturist for nothing ... The comic effect is also worked in the meeting between characters from different eras (the young girl teaching Michelangelo what she read on the Internet ...) and the burlesque of scenarios. These stories are also an opportunity to learn a little more about certain technical aspects of Art history, for example what a fresco is and how it is made, discover sfumato, perspective ... However, the comic side being privileged, the stories are full of historical inconsistencies. Take for example the case of the well-known Leonardo da Vinci: the latter breaks the Holy Grail that he had borrowed from the Vatican to paint the Last Supper, he flies above Florence and Rome thanks to one of his machines (passer-by at the same time around a St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in a state of progress that he has not known), and living with his maid: a brunette dressed in black answering the sweet name of ... Lisa ... Eh yes, she is the Mona Lisa! The comic is full of inconsistencies and improbable genre: Dürer haunted by the ghost of the rabbit who taught him printmaking, Brueghel sending messages to God in his UFO-like tower, Rubens suspending real cherubs from ropes to paint his putti… As you will have understood, these are not historical errors on the part of the authors, but a desire for derision, for burlesque. Give a buffoonish side to this adventure through Art where the reader meets works, artists and historical characters in a phantasmagorical mishmash, as in a strange dream where the true mixes with the imagination, with to such an extent that we no longer really know what the limit is between the part of the lived and that of the dream. It is perhaps the risk with this comic, to see a perfect neophyte take at face value purely imaginary aspects of these stories. While the ghosts of rabbits and other mischievous cherubs will certainly spark off, but doubt can arise in the uninitiated mind around Mona Lisa or the carnal relationship between Velasquez and the Queen of Spain for example.
In the end, "Au fil de l'Art" is certainly more suitable for discerning amateurs than for complete neophytes. Only the initiated will know how to disentangle the true from the false and especially to revel in the burlesque of this original comic which shows that the History of Art is not a dusty matter and that it is always possible to learn (or to revise ) joking ! Perhaps a good gift idea for those preparing for the teaching competitions, if they don't overdose on the question "The Prince and the Arts in France and Italy".
"Over the Art"
- Volume 1
Screenplay & Drawing: Ivana & Gradimir Smudja