Cartoonmuseum Basel

The Adventures of the Ligne claire

The Herr G. & Co. Affair


We all know the reporter Tintin, his faithful dog Snowy, and the man who created their adventures, the Belgian illustrator Hergé (1907–1983). Hergé uses realistic settings to achieve extremely neat and perfectly readable comic strips. By consciously omitting certain details, he gives the images even more clarity and focus. His famous style of drawing, characterised by clean lines and flat, saturated colour is instantly recognizable and has been greatly influential. In fact, it remains to this day a source of inspiration and reference for comic artists the world over. Joost Swarte, a Dutch artist who is himself a master of this style, coined the term “ligne claire” in 1977, elegantly linking all comics that take inspiration from Hergé’s distinctive stroke and narrative. Original drawings of fifty artists tell the fascinating story of the ligne claire, a style that embodies the essence of the comic like no other. Taking its starting point in the 19th century, the exhibition displays works by artists that influenced Hergé before moving on to francophone and Dutch illustrators such as Edgar P. Jacobs, Ted Benoit, Yves Chaland and Joost Swarte, some of whom worked with Hergé personally. Contemporary artists like the American Chris Ware, Rutu Modan from Israel and Swiss artists Christophe Badoux and Exem present revived, renewed, deconstructed and parodied versions of the ligne claire. 
Curator: Anette Gehrig

  • Joost Swarte “Tintin in Rotterdam” exhibition catalogue 1977

  • Joseph Porphyre Pinchon “Bécassine” circa 1940

  • Yves Chaland “Les Aventures de Freddy Lombard” Magic Strips 1989