NBM Publishing continues its popular and critically acclaimed “Louvre Collection” series of graphic novels with Cruising through the Louvre, an inventive offering by David Prudhomme. Other entries in the Louvre series have focused on particular art pieces, or the stories behind them; Prudhomme focuses instead on the people looking at the artwork. With an illustrated version of himself as guide, Prudhomme wryly observes that with rectangular frames everywhere in the museum, “It’s like I’m walking inside a giant comic book.”
Prudhomme illustrates the book in colored pencil, and the art is detailed and recognizable, the faces of the museum patrons amusing or affecting, as intended. While some of Prudhomme’s panels seem straightforward, with tourists taking snapshots or staring at a particular piece of art, others play with visual puns and echoes of real people next to statues or paintings that resemble them.
The highlight of the book comes when Prudhomme shows the crowd around the Mona Lisa—as viewed by the Mona Lisa. “And do people ever think about what she sees?” he asks.
The last two pages of the book offer factoids about the Louvre’s artwork: largest, smallest, oldest, along with demographic information about the visitors, and even a list of unclaimed items found in the museum. But first and foremost, Prudhomme’s book is exactly what its title indicates: a leisurely, illustrated stroll through the Louvre by someone who’s seen the art before and realizes that there’s much more to be found.
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