Are you a devotee of Niki de Saint Phalle or Claude Monet? Do you prefer the Musée du Louvre or the Centre Pompidou? Do you have a favorite graphic novel author or illustrator? Or, are you simply interested in learning French vocabulary to share your impressions of a favorite sculpture or painting?

This post is for the art amateur and aficionado alike! I've compiled a list of some of the best art resources available on our e-library, Culturethèque. They can be accessed from a computer or tablet 24/7, or whenever creativity strikes.

Art magazines

If, like me, you plan your trips abroad around upcoming exhibits, you'll enjoy streaming one of the many arts magazines available on our e-library. My favorite, Beaux Arts, gives a comprehensive and approchable overview of the art world in France. In addition to these titles, you'll find magazines on cinema, interior design, and fashion - perfect for learning new vocabulary or keeping up with the latest trends.

The most recent issue and archives of each magazine can be found by searching by title on Culturethèque:
art magazines

Bandes dessinées

With a range of illustration styles, subjects, and themes, BDs can be enjoyed by beginning readers and art experts. On Culturethèque, you can read "classic" series, like Lucky Luke and Boule et Bill, discover contemporary favorites, like Joann Sfar's Le Chat du Rabbin, and read "one-shot" graphic novels from up-and-coming authors and illustrators.

Part BD, part magazine, La Revue Dessinée, is a recent addition to Culturethèque and has quickly become a favorite. All 228 pages - articles and interviews included - are illustrated by a group of artists who tackle contemporary issues with watercolors and line drawings.

You can access all issues, including the most recent (n°12), by searching for "La Revue Dessinée" on Culturethèque.

Le Sculpteur by Scott McCloud
Read it here!
Written by graphic novel expert Scott McCloud, Le Sculpteur is an almost 500 page, black and white illustrated opus that was widely acclaimed as a chef d'œuvre de la bande dessinée. Read about the fate of sculptor David Smith, who makes a deal with the devil to accomplish his childhood dreams.

Le Corbusier, architecte parmi les hommes by Thévenet and Rébéna
Read it here!
Architecture fans will appreciate this graphic novel biography of Le Corbusier, a colorful and vibrantly illustrated story that spans the last 15 years of his life. Look for references to his most famous design projects in France.

Le Portrait d'Esther by Romain Bonnin and Pierre Jeanneau
Read it here!
This "cross-media", digital graphic novel was one of my favorite finds when researching this blog post. The series is a five part, interactive story about a lost painting and one family's history. I would recommend "reading" the BD on a computer for the full effect - use your arrow keys to "flip" through the pages and pause to see the powerful black and white illustrations come alive.

Non-fiction favorites

My first post in this Culturethèque series focused on digital resources for children, but I saved two favorites for this post because the illustrations are not only charmingly whimsical, but simply spectactular! I love seeing non-fiction come alive through art, as in these two picture books:

Quand la nature prend forme
by Emmanuelle Grundmann and Florence Guiraud
Read it here!
This picture book is a unique mix of biology and poetic texts. Download it on a computer or tablet - you'll want to zoom in on these colorful and highly detailed line drawings of animals and plants.

Chiens et chats, sous la loupe des scientifiques
by Sébastien Mourrain and Antonio Fischetti
Read it here!
Animal lovers and budding artists will adore this scientific look at dogs and cats with a unique illustration style that showcases an eye for detail - not one whisker is out of place. Use the cover for inspiration and sketch your own furry friends at home.

For further reading...

Advanced readers and researchers can enjoy a selection of scholarly texts, critiques, and other literature on art, from Yasmina Reza's Art, to Jean-Jacques Lévêque's Henri Rousseau, Le Douanier.

Our e-library also holds a number of articles on art history published in social science journals, from Le Débat to Vingtième Siècle. I would recommend doing a keyword search on our Culturethèque for an in-depth searches. Most importantly, always remember that you can contact the library for further reference needs.

A vos pinceaux !

Christianne Beasley

Head Librarian

A native Mainer, Christianne has worked in libraries all her life and came to the Center after three years of managing the library at the Alliance Française in Washington DC. She has a B.A. in French Studies from Smith College, a MLIS from Simmons College, and loves children's literature, BDs, and cookbooks. When she is not at the library, you can find her traveling, baking, and - quelle surprise! - reading new books.

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