THE MUSEUM VAULTS
Written and Drawn by Marc-Antoine Mathieu
Published by NBM
Eudeus Volumer is an expert in all things art-related, able to critique, organize, and understand the history of what he sees. Therefore, he is called to his greatest challenge, the organization of the vaults and sublevels at the Musee Du Revolu, an alternate reality/alternate Earth version of the Louvre. Little does Volumer know that the undertaking will introduce him not only to great works of art, but also great levels of absurdism.
This is the second in a series of four graphic novels actually commissioned by the Louvre itself, and it’s certainly a wildly different one than the first, Nicolas De Crecy’s GLACIAL PERIOD. Here, Mathieu puts his focus more on taking the piss out of the Louvre and the concept of museums and their caretakers themselves; as Volumer passes through this surrealist version of the great museum, he finds himself contending with such departments as the restoration workshop (which at one point worked to put limbs and noses on crumbled statues, and now works to restore them back to broken status or simply makes the restorations so ludicrous that patrons will understand what the originals looked like); the department of copies, which does precisely what it sounds like (though each copy is now considered art… but some copies are so precise that they’re considered “fakes”); and the frame depot, which has a caretaker who believes the frames to be just as important (if not more important) than whatever they surround. And along the way, he also meets another expert and begins to see exactly what his true destiny will be.
Mathieu has an interestingly stark art style, using black and white and gray tones with precision and grace. He keeps his characters simple, using his powerful gift for detail on the backgrounds and the museum environment. He also has a very dry sense of humor running through the book and through Volumer’s journey. Like De Crecy’s earlier book, this is a fascinating effort, and one any serious graphic novel reader will want to own.