Michel Cambon exhibits at the BEP in Grenoble

Press cartoonist Michel Cambon (and contributor to Arts Journal) recently donated several of his drawings to the Library of Study and Heritage (BEP) in Grenoble. The opportunity for the latter to organize an exhibition around the artist’s work and press cartoons in general, entitled “Do you find it funny? Cambon and press cartoons. The designer’s illustrations are compared with the library’s collection, which brings together more than 4,000 local and national newspapers dating from the 18th century to the present day.

Through a selection of more than 150 pieces, the tour retraces the history of press cartoons, its codes and its main figures of inspiration, while questioning the place of humor and the role of image in the press . It gives pride of place to the drawings that Michel Cambon has published for around thirty years in regional newspapers such as Terre Dauphinoise Or The Alpine Workerin which he tackles current events with spicy humor, tinged with mischief.

The exhibition “Do you find it funny? Cambon and the press cartoon” takes place from March 14 to September 28, 2024, on the ground floor of the BEP.

What motivated your donation to the BEP of Grenoble?

I donated around a thousand drawings to the BEP, a library that I have visited several times since I have worked in Grenoble for many years. My first donation, made after the pandemic in 2022, only included illustrations related to Covid because I told myself that they could be interesting for future generations. Then by talking with the library team, I wanted to make them a second donation with more drawings from the local press. All these illustrations will enrich the “Dauphinois funds” of the BEP, which notably contains the precious manuscripts of the Grande Chartreuse and Stendhal.

Covid-19: Lunch on the Grass (1863) by Manet

© Michel Cambon

Have you ever made other donations to institutions before?

The desire to give my press cartoons to institutions quickly manifested itself. I had already given illustrations to the Tomi Ungerer Museum in Strasbourg during my participation in a retrospective that they organized in homage to the designer, who also greatly influenced my work.

Is this your first time exhibiting?

This is my first exhibition in Grenoble. I had previously participated in several group exhibitions in France and Switzerland, particularly as part of festivals, and had two personal gallery exhibitions. But for a press cartoonist, being exposed is not an end in itself since we work above all for newspapers.

How was the exhibition at the BEP organized?

It was after my donation that the library team had the idea of ​​putting together this exhibition. They mentioned the project to me last June and from there, everything happened very quickly. It was organized under the direction of Floriane Wanecq, head of the library’s Heritage Unit, who wanted to offer a historical dialogue between contemporary press drawings and older works, such as physiognomist engravings by Charles Le Brun and lithographs by André Gill.

The title of the exhibition “Do you find it funny? » clearly invites us to question what makes us laugh. What do you think of the place of humor in the press?

In any case, I hope that my drawings will always be funny! I think that we can deal with all subjects with press cartoons, but that some are obviously more delicate and risky. This title brings together different themes such as censorship, health, money, politics, religion. I also exhibit some illustrations which, without mentioning current events, are simply intended to make people laugh.

You collaborate with regional weeklies but also with more specialized newspapers such as The Arts Journal. Do you exhibit drawings that appeared there?

The exhibition traces most of my collaborations with the press, from my very first drawings made for the newspaper Hara-kiri in the late 1980s to my most recent ones. It is therefore not limited only to my publications in the local press. Two drawings that I made for The Arts Journal during the pandemic period are particularly exposed to it.

Did you create any illustrations specifically for the exhibition?

Yes, I notably designed the exhibition poster and a few other drawings which were enlarged to be integrated into the scenography.

Poster of the exhibition “Do you find it funny?  Cambon and the press cartoon” at the Library of Study and Heritage (BEP) of Grenoble © Michel Cambon

Poster of the exhibition “Do you find it funny? Cambon and press cartoons” at the Library of Study and Heritage (BEP) in Grenoble.

© Michel Cambon

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