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Comic Art in Museums and Museums in Comic Art

Michael D. Picone

Initially, being mass produced and sequential, comic art was excluded from fine art museums. Some comics artists themselves have expressed ambivalence about the value of inclusion (but counter-arguments are proposed, challenging the perception of incompatibility). However, a pivotal element in the break from the ranks of artistic modernism has been the appropriation of comic art motifs for use in museum-grade pop art, figuration narrative and their successors. In counterpoint, comic art is replete with examples of museum art being appropriated in order to obtain diegetic enrichment of various sorts, either for the purpose of parody or in relation to plot construction. Against this backdrop, and abetted by the twin challenge that art museums are facing to remain relevant and to increase revenue, a game-changing development is afoot, leading to a co-operative re-positioning of art museums and comics artists. With the Louvre taking the lead, many art museums in France and Italy are now commissioning works of comic art based on the museum's own collections, often launched with companion exhibits. The resultant 'art within art' lends itself readily to rich experimentation with themes incorporating intertextuality and parallel narrative.

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Book Reviews

Stefanie Diekmann, Sylvain Lesage, Michael D. Picone, Thomas Gebhart, and John D. Benjamin

Jan Baetens, Rebuilding Story Worlds: The Obscure Cities by Schuiten and Peeters (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2020). 198 pp. ISBN: 978-1-97880-847-8 ($29.95)

Philippe Delisle, La BD au prisme de l'Histoire: Hergé, Maurras, les Jésuites et quelques autres… (Paris: Karthala, 2019). 206 pp. ISBN: 978-2-8111-2608-7 (€18.00)

Kim A. Munson, ed., Comic Art in Museums (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2020). 386 + xii pp. ISBN 978-1-4968-2807-1 ($30)

Paul Fisher Davies, Comics as Communication: A Functional Approach (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). 338 pp. ISBN: 978-3-030-29722-0 (eBook: €50.28)

Sean Eedy, Four-Color Communism: Comics Books and Contested Power in the German Democratic Republic (New York: Berghahn Books, 2021). 218 pp. ISBN: 978-1-80073-000-7 ($120)