Tintin @ Somerset House


Honestly I haven’t seen any exhibitions recently that have really impressed me. Around Christmas there always seems to be a lull in good things to see. However, that all changed after a trip to see TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece at Somerset House.

Tintin is a globally loved cartoon character who was first penned by Belgian artist Georges Prosper Remi, best known by his pen name Hergé in the 1920s. The show at Somerset House traces Tintin and Hergé’s story from the author’s very first doodles in his school notebooks to his lasting impact today.

The setting for the exhibition has been transformed into a hand drawn cartoon world. All of the walls have been covered in Hergé’s illustrations. Even the fireplaces and windows have been covered over with characters from Tintin’s escapades. Each of the three rooms has been turned into one of the most loved settings from his adventures including Captain Haddock’s Marlinspike Hall. Not only are we able to walk into the twilight cartoon streets, but real models of locations from Tintin’s tales are also on display. This explains Hergé’s interest in design and architecture and gives us the opportunity to have a three-dimensional glimpse inside Tintin’s bedroom.

Drawing from the archives of the Hergé Museum in Belgium are clippings from Tintin’s first public appearance in Le Vingtieme newspaper in 1929 when the artist was only 20. Since then, more than 200 million Tintin books have been sold in over 90 countries, and despite no new adventures been penned in 40 years, Tintin has even found himself starring in a Spielberg film.

The exhibition is vibrant and sure to be loved by the whole family. It is reminiscent of a Babar exhibition that I saw at my favourite museum, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris a few years ago. In fact, all of the wall text on display is written in both English and French, something that really impressed me as I grew up watching the cartoons in French and not English. Therefore, the dog that many people know as Snowy is Milou to me.

Whether you are passing by for a spot of Christmas shopping or needing a break from the ice rink outside this exhibition is the perfect Christmas treat, so make sure you pop in to reconnect with Hergé’s sketchbook.

TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece is at Somerset House until 12 November 2016

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine and Reorient.

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