As author and artist David Prudhomme wanders through the world famous Louvre Museum in Paris, he notices not only the enormity of the museum, but also people’s interactions with both each other and the artwork. Through those observations, he comments on how our relationships have evolved and the societal impact technology has had on us.
Cruising Through the Louvre doesn’t have a traditional storyline, instead it simply follows Prudhomme as he explores the museum and its dwellings. The closest he comes to generating a plot is the social commentary he makes on its visitors while talking to his partner Jeanne on his cell phone (which is annoying given he is in a museum and would have functioned better with her physically present instead). While in the museum, Prudhomme notices how its visitors have a lack of connection with the art—they’re more interested in taking pictures and posing with it over anything else. Thanks to technology, people are too busy trying to create and capture moments rather than just living in them. The way in which we value art is no longer based on the art itself, but upon what we can get out of it, such as a funny selfie we can show others.
Along those lines, Prudhomme finds humor in the literal way life imitates art. From a tired visitor unintentionally mirroring a sitting statue to a mother and her child posing next to a portrait of a man holding an animal, nearly everyone in the museum resembles a piece of art, causing them to become living art. Everything begins to blend together. It was a hidden gem he stumbled upon without looking. Prudhomme is also extremely self-aware and sees himself within the panels of a comic, with the artwork serving as graphic’s panels and the various rooms as different volumes within in. It’s all very meta.
Aside from his observations, the end of the graphic includes two pages of facts about the building, works, visitors, and workers. For anyone interested in the Louvre’s history or wanting some research, this is a handy and necessary tool to have.
The art is both literally and figuratively what the real focus of the graphic is about. Prudhomme illustrates the graphic with colored pencil using soft strokes and linework not fully defined, which in turn gives the entire piece a smudgy, dreamlike look to it. This is done to further emphasize how the lines between fiction and reality are blurred. The main issue with the lack of definition, though, is that images blur too well together and make it difficult to make out what is happening. While it’s understandable why he utilizes this technique, the lack of focus makes it hard to find a focal point and loses the reader’s attention. Readers will find themselves skipping over pages.
The panels where he does give more definition to his subjects look like pieces of art that are frozen in time and beautifully fit in with their surroundings. Similarly, his artistry shines when replicating the artwork found in the Louvre. It makes the reader feel as though they are looking at the original piece. Prudhomme also does a great job at capturing how busy the museum can get—you feel claustrophobic just by looking at the panels. Had he spent more time detailing each panel and only doing a few out of focus pieces, his message about society would’ve had a larger impact.
While the idea and concept behind Cruising Through the Louvre is a great one, it unfortunately does not succeed as well as it should. For anyone who has visited the Louvre, it’s a great book to read and reminisce with; for everyone else, you don’t really get the importance or magnitude of the museum—it looks just like another art museum. You’re left with the impression that it’s a crowded place to be and nothing about it makes you want to visit. With his lack of focus and underdeveloped storyline, the graphic novel is best suited for adults and students in Art History classes who could appreciate the art while ignoring the text.
Cruising Through the Louvre
by David Prudhomme
Art by David Prudhomme
Publisher Age Rating: Adult