lunes, 29 de agosto de 2022

Jean-Jacques Sempé y The New Yorker

La portada de The New Yorker del 5 de septiembre de 2022 homenajea a Jean-Jacques Sempé con Morning Music, una de sus ilustraciones para la revista. Sempé murió el pasado 11 de agosto a los 89 años. La revista trae, además, una extensa entrevista a su viuda Martine Gossieaux, realizada por la editora de la revista, también francesa, Françoise Mouly. Con el permiso presunto de la revista, le copio algunos párrafos:
When Jean-Jacques Sempé, or J.J., as he was known in America, passed away on August 11th, at the age of eighty-nine, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted, “[He] had the elegance to always remain light-hearted without ever missing a beat.” The tribute was one of many on both sides of the Atlantic; he was the rare Gallic artist beloved by Americans who managed never to lose his appeal in the eyes of his compatriots. The writer Charles McGrath once compared him to Brigitte Bardot, saying, “He’s a national institution who has acquired an almost universal appeal by remaining quintessentially French.” This week’s cover is Sempé’s hundred-and-fourteenth for the magazine, a monumental achievement. (Arthur Getz holds the record for most New Yorker covers, at two hundred and twelve.) I spoke to Martine Gossieaux, Sempé’s widow, about J.J.’s enduring love for the magazine.

What was he looking for?

He searched for visual ideas that weren’t dependent on words. It was hard for him because, if, for example, he thought about painting a cat on a bed, he also had to come up with ways to show that the cat was in New York. He didn’t want to cheat by showing landmarks, so he had to distill how buildings, windows, and street lamps were specifically of the city.

What sort of impact did publishing his first New Yorker cover have on him?

I remember it vividly, because it came out two or three months after Jean-Jacques and I met, back in 1978. For him, it was something extraordinary. Before then, he had been doing black-and-white humor drawings. Now he had to think in color. He took up watercolor and was always searching for images that could make a good cover.

Is the pedestrian passageway and the street lamp in the cover we’re publishing this week an example of this?

Yes, that image is the spirit of New York. He loved
New Yorker covers, because he could choose his topic without limitations or impositions. He could paint a happy chicken in nature, for example. He loved that cover—it’s an extraordinary image because the subject is so mundane. He felt that he could embody the unique spirit of the magazine—the appreciation for quirky wit and humor shared by contributors and readers—in these images. It made him feel he was part of a family. 

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