Presented at the NMNM-Villa Sauber from April 1 to September 5 2021, the exhibition Marginalia. Inside the Comics Art Collectionsis an exploration of comic book art, a young art born at the same time as film and psychoanalysis, and which has frequently opted for marginality over convention, humour over academicism and counter-culture over received ideas.
Built around rare loans from public and private collections, the exhibition offers a chance to rethink the relationship between comic books and their acceptance by institutions, or how a medium that has always been split between counter-culture and mass culture has entered the museum space without giving up its transgressive vocation or boosting its commoditisation.
Following Freud’s traumarbeit (dream-work) model, Marginalia. Inside the Comics Art Collections invites visitors to discover over 350 works by some of the greatest comic book artists and honours the passion of those who find their work an endless source of fascination.
Marginalia are the small drawings located in the margins of Medieval manuscripts. Often secular, sometimes droll, always fascinating, they form a dialogue with the texts that they illuminate, explain or criticise and can be seen as the origins of comic books, a combination of drawing and writing which blossomed in the 20th century.
Following the principle of these Marginalia, the graphic works that reflect the curators’ point of view mixing texts and images shall be found around the works of art. Rethinking the function of the “informational label”, these quirky cards play on reversing polarities – from the margins to the middle and vice versa – to propose new readings and perspectives on the artists’ works.
Marginalia. Inside the Comics Art Collections will be accompanied by a fun and lavish publication (co-published by the NMNM and Glénat) which intends to square the enjoyment of reading comics with the demands of an appropriate scientific approach through contributions from Jean-Luc Fromental, Thierry Groensteen, Didier Pasamonik and Numa Sadoul.
The image chosen for the cover of the catalogue, as well as the poster promoting the exhibition, have been realized specifically for this occasion by avant-garde cartoonist Herr Seele: like a wink full of mischief at the meeting of classical painting with comics.