Friday, 8:23am
15 April 2011

In graphic detail – Critique on Kiki

See Rick Poynor’s latest Critique – about Catel and Bocquet’s graphic biography of Surrealist icon Kiki de Montparnasse

I had some reservations about Kiki de Montparnasse, a new graphic biography of the artists’ model and muse, painter, singer of bawdy songs and celebrity, who came to fame in Paris in the 1920s, writes Rick Poynor in Eye 79.

The woman herself is fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed her autobiography, Kiki’s Memoirs (1929), banned in the US and finally made available in English in 1996. But the graphic style of Kiki de Montparnasse (SelfMadeHero) drawn by Catel Muller and written by José-Louis Bocquet, is not one I would normally go for – I prefer a sharp line and a tightly constructed page – and graphic mood is crucial in a narrative that runs to 370 pages.


Long before I was halfway through, Catel’s delicately skating pen had me completely charmed and convinced she was the perfect artist to handle this story. The immediacy of her graphic style captures Kiki’s personality to a tee: lively, amusing, generous, irrepressible, quick to stick up for herself, a natural entertainer who never failed to grab the opportunity to have a good time.



This is an extract from ‘Kiki in graphic detail’, Rick Poynor's Critique in Eye 79.

More details on the publisher’s website.

See also: Rick Poynor's two-part essay on Surrealism. Part one (article from Eye 63) and part two (article from Eye 65).

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. The latest issue is Eye 79, a type special.