Press cartoons struggle to break into the art market

Satire of the powerful and the villainous, mirror of our paradoxes, the press cartoon in turn triggers laughter or fury. Since the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in 2005 in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, the genre has become flammable. The younger generations are questioning its merits, on the pretext that we cannot laugh at everything.

To avoid controversy, the New York Times decided not to publish any more. “Press cartoons are not, however, problems, insists Nicolas Jacquette, co-founder of the Press & Cartooning Global Forum, which was held at the end of September. They are the thermometers of the democratic vitality of a country. “

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On the art market too, caricatures are struggling to break through. “There was not for the press cartoon the enthusiasm noted for the comic strip”, regrets the collector Yves Frémion, author of the book From caricature to Charlie Hebdo –1830-2015, to be published in January 2022 at Glénat. Also the sheets of the tenors of the profession are often accessible for a few hundred or a few thousand euros.

“Frankly, who would want to have Marine Le Pen’s face in his living room? »Yves Frémion, author of a book to be published on the press cartoon

If the market is small, it is because “The cartoonists themselves have more often defined themselves as journalists than as artists”, explains Pavel Chalupa, curator of the “Satirix” exhibition, which has just ended at the Orbis pictus gallery in Paris. They produced quickly and a lot, without always paying attention to the quality of the ink or the paper. “Some of my friends from Charlie Hebdo did not give any value to their original designs, poursuit Pavel Chalupa. For them, the result was only the newspaper, the publication. Everything else was in their eyes only preparatory. ” Sempé-style humor drawings sell better than political commentaries, which quickly become obsolete. “Nobody today buys a drawing on Sarkozy or a gag on Michel Rocard, recognizes Yves Frémion. And frankly, who would want to have Marine Le Pen’s face in their living room? “

Avenir 1969, Georges Wolinski, Indian ink on paper, 34.5 x 25.5 cm, unpublished drawing

In the garbage

When, in 2018, the Art Valorem auction house dispersed 300 drawings by Jacques Faizant, who died twelve years earlier, in Drouot, the specialists held their breath. Admittedly, the former collaborator of Figaro was popular in its time, and its scenes of tenderly ferocious old ladies and gendarmes recount a moment or a vision of France.

To everyone’s surprise, the sale is a hit. Almost 95% of the lots find takers, double the estimates. A cartoon entitled “De Gaulle who resuscitates at Easter” even sells for 3,200 euros. Galvanized, Art Valorem is trying to confirm the test with a new Faizant sale in 2019. Bad idea: a lot of sheets then remain on the floor.

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