With works by artists including Arman, Will Benedict, Henning Bohl, Pol Bury, César, Anthea Hamilton, Hergé, Tom Humphreys, Jack Lavender, Alan Michael, Eduardo Paolozzi, Peyo, Mandla Reuter, Stephen Sutcliffe, Mungo Thomson, Ben Vautier and Jacques Villeglé. The exhibition is curated by Rob Tufnell.
Painting, sculpture and illustration from 1938 to the present day are collected into something of a bande desiné version of an art exhibition. Taking its title from a painting by Ben Vautier included in the exhibition it draws inspiration from the last, unfinished Tintin book: ‘Tintin et l’alph-art.’ Hergé’s preparatory notes and sketches for this caricature of the art industry of the late 1960s conclude with Tintin being lead off to be entombed in polyester, to be killed and yet, at the same time immortalised as a sculpture by César. This exhibition is in some sense similarly a caricature in its incorporation of artworks that were conceived with a knowing exuberance. The exhibition also finds unlikely parallels particularly between Nouveau Réalisme and contemporary practices.
Orson Welles’ last film – an extended trailer for ‘F is for Fake’ (1978) – is also presented. It features the notorious dealer Fernand Legros and painter Elmyr de Hory who provided inspiration for Hergé’s fictional characters: respectively art dealer and mystic Endaddine Akass and forger Ramo Nash. Tom McCarthy’s ‘Tintin and the Secret of Literature’ (2006) posits Hergé’s books to be highly sophisticated, philosophical embodiments of literature. He highlights the fictional Bianca Castafiore’s proclamation that Alph-Art is ‘un véritable rétour aux sources’ and links her confusion to Georges Bataille’s 1955 essay on Lascaux and the origins of art. Tintin’s adventures are, from start to finish, also filled with counterfeits: something that McCarthy links to the Platonic view that all culture is necessarily fake – being a copy of reality.