Black White

Working at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (, just like visiting, allows you to benefit from the many temporary exhibitions based primarily on their own collections and donations to the BnF. For those who like “dessins, estampes, photographies”, there is a small exhibition as of June 2023 which features on these three techniques in the work of a single artist Edgar Degas from the impressionist movement. Walking through the exhibition or slowly scrolling the press documentation allows you to follow the artistic life course of Edgar Degas. He started with the pencil dessin and evolved to the printing of a single or sequences of “estampes” (up to 20) to impress us beyond black and white with multiples of 50 shades of grey. Degas seems like continuously searching for the uniqueness of the moment to present strong emotions or to summarise interpersonal relationships immersed in a specific spatial setting. Having demonstrated the richness of dessins and estampes as artistic, but a bit laborious technique, he devotes his last few years to a more intensive work taking photographs and proceeding to their development or tirage as printed versions. No matter which technique he applies, he has a special artistic view that allows to capture emotions and immortalise them. The painter’s eye, as well as later on in his artistic career the photographer’s eye, keep scrutinising himself in various forms of “auto-portraits”. Beyond youth, the pervasive obsession with selfies nowadays had its artistic precursor Edgar Degas for example. Whereas most photographers would classify a double exposure as a “raté”, Degas experimented with this almost like a cubist, Picasso-like techniques in photography. Actually, the last few images in the exhibition show the artistic reference Picasso made in his work to images, impressions and techniques that inspired him throughout his artistic work. There are amazing links in and across the history of art or arts. (BnF expo Edgar Degas 2023).


Key visuals have the potential to appeal to us like an own language. From a communication point of view the message is simple. You send a message from your visual appearance even if you do not intend to do so. Hence, better think about it briefly before you go public. The receiver might interpret your visual statement differently from you or other peers, but you offer a coherent version of your activity or appearance. Be it politicians (Merkel) or others, frequently memory allows only for key visuals to make lasting impressions or for something or someone to enter into collective memory of a decade or even a century. Repetition, also from different sources, plays a major part in this. It is surprisingly still uncommon to hire persons in charge of key visuals for a person, an organisation or a festival. Haphazard treatment of key visuals as part of marketing is probably an underestimation of the lasting impact of a coherent visual message. Stability and repetition are key here, rather than the wide-spread ad-hoc approaches to marketing. Only on the margin of the exposition devoted to Philippe Apeloig “Des esquisses à l’affiche” (BnF) this lesson can be learned. The merit of the exposition is the opening-up of the process of creation. Posters, graphics and typescripts all contribute to the overall visual message. Achieving coherence in the thousands of choices demands an aesthetic point of view. This may blend aesthetic languages of a decade and reflections on the subject. Catching an audience at the time of affluence of images, movies and accelerated rhythms of daily life remains a challenge. For the “Fête du Livre” Apeloig has achieved this in a memorable way, well worth a tiny exposition of donations from a master in visual communication.


Die lange Tradition der “Pastiche“ (BnF, 2023) der französischen Presse ist nur wenig über Frankreich hinaus bekannt. Sicherlich kennen viele den wöchentlich erscheinenden „Canard enchainé“ oder die Satire-Zeitschrift  „Charlie Hebdo“. Die witzigen, fälschenden Plagiate von bekannten Zeitungen und Zeitschriften, Pastiche genannt, haben einen Kreis an Liebhabenden, die sich ihren Humor nicht nehmen lassen. In Gesprächen gilt oft die humorvolle Sichtweise auf Politik, oder das tägliche Leben, als intelligent. Eine andere, unübliche oder gar verbotene Perspektive auf einen Sachverhalt kann ja bekanntlich zu einiger Erheiterung beitragen. Was sich seriöse Medien nicht erlauben, darf dann schon mal in den Pastiche vorkommen. Wie weit darf Humor gehen bis Humor verletzend oder gesetzeswidrig wird. Diese Grenzen sind je nach Kultur und politischen Gegebenheiten verschieden. In Frankreich lässt man/frau sich nicht den Augenzwinker verbieten. Übersetzen lassen sich die oft indirekten Anspielungen nur schwer. Viel Hintergrundwissen, oft nur von kleinen Gruppen von Personen, ist zum Verständnis nötig. Da wird vielfach erst auf den 2. Gedanken gelacht oder geschmunzelt. Die Bestände der BnF daraufhin zu sichten oder überhaupt die Kategorie zu führen, sogar als eine Literaturgattung, ist beachtlich. Nachrevolutionärer Karneval ist eben 365 Tage Narrenfreiheit. Das Recht und Gesetz dazu, wird wohl gut definiert sein. Majestätsbeleidigung wird es da nicht mehr im Strafbuch geben, was zu überprüfen ist.