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Christian Desbois, 1951/1952-2010
posted June 24, 2010

Christian Desbois, the Parisian gallery owner and publisher that helped develop the French-language public's appreciation for a subset of comics authors as image makers and visual artists, died on June 21 from complications due to cancer. He was 58 years old.

imageDesbois owned the Galerie Christian Desbois, best known for its exhibitions and lithographs in support of skilled European cartoonists including but certainly not limited to Jacques Tardi, Ted Benoit, Enki Bilal, Joost Swarte, Jacques Loustal, Lorenzo Mattotti, Francois Schuiten, Andre Juillard, Manu Larcenet and Clarire Bretécher. Desbois opened his gallery in 1986. He seemed less interested in these artists for their function as cartoon authors and more as a set of talented image makers -- thus the concentration on books about these cartoonists art as opposed to books about comics, and the focus on prints and original art. This obituary suggests that the seriousness of Desbois' intent and the tonier qualities of his gallery (its location and overall look) did a great deal to bring a second consideration of certain artists in a time when their literary merit may have been at separate issue.

Desbois had in recent years apparently mounted a few well-received exhibits outside of his gallery walls, including an Enki Bilal show that traveled to Belgrade and India. At the time of his passing, the gallery was scheduled to feature a Juanjo Guarnido exhibit in the Fall; as far as I can tell there is no word on the fate of that show of the disposition of the gallery. There will likely be greater attention paid to Desbois' legacy in the days and weeks ahead, which will hopefully result in more information here.