Saturday, December 06, 2014

BNF 1973

In 1973 Searle was honored by the Bibliothèque nationale de France,  Paris with a career retrospective- the only living non French artist to be recognized thus.

'In July 1971 Searle received two awards: the "Prize of Humour S.P.H" and the "Avignon City Medal". A few months later, he received the "Great Prize for Black Humour / Grandville". In 1972 he was awarded the "Prize Charles Huard for Press Cartoons". In the same year, crowning these French distinctions, the Bibliothèque Nationale [National Library] invited him to show a personal retrospective at the Cabinet des Estampes in 1973. Of course Searle agreed and became the first non-French living artist to be honored that way by this institution. Unfortunately, for economical reasons, the B.N. suggested that the catalog was just a list on sheets of paper. Searle’s cartoonist friend Jean-Pierre Desclozeaux was outraged, and so as to have a proper, fully illustrated and well documented catalog printed he founded the association "Les Amis de Ronald Searle" [Searle’s Friends] which collected funds and brought life to this book. 259 works were on display at the B.N. from January 26th to late March 1973. . . .

. . . The drawing reproduced on the front cover of the catalogue (here above) is one the three works stolen during the exhibition. The Bibliothèque Nationale having failed to insure itself against such troubles was obliged to acquire these works from the artist, who thus came to be officially “represented in the Bibliothèque Nationale”, as he later put it, “by three phantom pictures”.

The catalogue can be found on eBay or there is a digitized version online here.

Photo: Claudia Desclozeaux

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