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Catherine Meurisse. A Place of One's Own

To mark this year's “Rencontres de l’Illustration” event and its theme of women's visibility in illustration, the Tomi Ungerer Museum – International Illustration Centre is paying tribute to Catherine Meurisse.

The exhibition "Catherine Meurisse. A Place of One's Own," looks back on the career of this prolific, multifaceted artist active in the Press, young people's books and comic strips. She is the first illustratress to have been elected to the Academy of Fine Arts and this exhibition, with its title harking back to Virginia Woolf, comes as a chance to address the question of her place in a male-dominated environment, both in the field of illustration and the art world in general. After following a programme in modern literature, Meurisse studied at the Estienne School of Applied Arts and then at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris. In her books of illustrations as well as in her humorous drawings for the press, we find her predilection for the two essential sources of her inspiration, art and literature. A cursory glance is enough to reveal Caravaggio, Millais, Hokusai, Proust and even Stendhal, to name but a few.

To plunge into Meurisse's references is also to realise how the artist has created her own voice; how the illustratress has shaped her identity, making a place for herself and bringing illustration into her haven. But if the artist often cites painting or poetry in her works, she establishes no hierarchy between arts and letters, drawing equally from Delacroix's colour, Doré's line, Rabelais' pastiches, a Stravinsky symphony or Leonard Bernstein's rhythms. If we had to name one element she exalts, it would obviously be Nature. In her children's books and press cartoons she appears as a real protagonist – in animal form; or she spreads her horizons across double pages and completely swallows up the reader. In The Young Woman and the Sea, Meurisse precisely questions the place of humans in Nature, and she tells us how art makes it possible to capture the landscapes that are fading away.

Exhibition Curator: Morgane Magnin, conservation assistant at the Tomi Ungerer Museum - International Illustration Centre