Last week I read about the French painter Xavier Marabout, who has a series of oeuvres that each mash together two separate visual worlds. On his website, Marabout describes his work as “strip art”, in which he “strips distant artistic universes to merge them together” in a style where “parody [is] omnipresent”.
Marabout has made a series called Hergé-Hopper, in which Tintin appears within various paintings based on works by Edward Hopper. The article concerned the fact that Hergé’s heirs have decided to claim that Marabout’s work has nothing to do with parody and everything to do with breach of copyright.
“Taking advantage of the reputation of a character to immerse him in an erotic universe has nothing to do with humour,” a lawyer for the company said in court in Rennes this week: a sentence that should enjoy fame in its own right.
While Hergé’s business-minded heirs might conceivably have a point if Marabout had only put Tintin into Hopper’s paintings, his other oeuvres make it harder for them. I especially like his works which mash up Tex Avery cartoons with the works of Picasso.
According to the Guardian, Marabout said that “that his work echoed the historian Christian Jacob’s belief that ‘there is no cultural transmission without reappropriation’.
‘This is exactly what that I do in my work as an artist. I revisit my own culture by merging, or mashing up, different cultural worlds, and giving them meaning. Because some universes speak to each other in secret,’ he said. As well as Hergé and Hopper, his fusions include Batman and Klimt, Picasso and the creations of cartoonist Tex Avery.”
A court in Rennes will rule on the status of Marabout’s work in May 2021.