Multi-award winning graphic novelist Emmanuel Guibert has been elected by artistic peers to France’s distinguished Académie des Beaux-Arts (Academy of Fine Arts), becoming the second-ever cartoonist to hold such a high position in one of the country’s most prestigious learned institutions. He will take one of the five chairs at the head of the Engraving and Drawing department alongside fellow cartoonist Catherine Meurisse – who herself was elected in 2020.
The Academy’s press release was short and rather understated (translated via DeepL):
“During the plenary session on Wednesday, January 11, 2023, the Academy of Fine Arts elected Emmanuel Guibert to chair II of the department of engraving and drawing, previously occupied by Pierre-Yves Trémois (1921-2020). This election will be submitted to the approval of the President of the Republic, Protector of the Academy.
“The department of engraving and drawing is now composed of 5 members: Erik Desmazières, Astrid de La Forest, Pierre Collin, Catherine Meurisse and Emmanuel Guibert.”
Catherine Meurisse – the first cartoonist to be elected to the esteemed institution – was elected to the Academy of Fine Arts’ Painting department in 2020 but in October 2022 was formally transferred and inducted into the newly renamed Engraving & Drawing department (it was previously just ‘Engraving’). Guibert will join her as the second cartoonist to ever hold a role of such high regard in the Academy – proof that even in a culture where comics are considered the 9th Art, there is still a few more “respectability” barriers to break down. Guibert will take the seat vacated by the former dean, the late visual artist and sculptor Pierre-Yves Trémois who passed away in 2020, age 99. Following election, the result has to be confirmed by the President of France.
Emmanuel Guibert, born 1964, broke onto the French comics scene with 1992 graphic novel Brune, which he began working on while attending the National School of Decorative Arts (ENSAD) in Paris before dropping out early. He worked as an illustrator and storyboarder for seven years before Brune‘s eventual publication. He has produced a lengthy bibliography of nonfiction and fiction works – either solo or with a collaborator, and for both adults and young audiences. In English, First Second has published a number of his works including two instalments of the Alan’s War trilogy (based on the recollections of his friend Alan Cope) – Alan’s War (2008) and How The World Was (2014) – and The Photographer (2009). The latter of which won a 2010 Eisner Award for Best American Edition of an International Work. His trophy shelf includes a French booksellers’ prize (Canal BD, 2004), the Grand Critics Prize from the Association of French comics journalists (2013), a René Goscinny Prize (2017), and in 2020 he received the lifetime achievement Grand Prix at Angoulême. In Italy Alan’s War received a 2009 Micheluzzi Prize for Best Foreign series at the Naples Festival.
Situated in Paris, France’s Academy of Fine Arts has a history extending as far back as the seventeenth century with the 1648 founding of a Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture (Académie de peinture et de sculpture). In 1816, a merger of other academies overseeing the study of music (f. 1669) and architecture (f. 1671) brought about the Academy as it is known today. It is currently comprised of nine departments (also referred to as sections) which oversee Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Engraving & Drawing, Musical Composition, Free Members, Cinema and Audio-Visual Arts, Photography, and Choreography.