Hugo Pratt’s drawn literature at the Pompidou: “Corto Maltese, Une vie romanesque” arrives – 29 May to 4 November 2024

From 29 May to 4 November 2024, the Centre Pompidou in Paris celebrates the ninth art with a major exhibition entitled “La BD à tous les étages”, an immersion in the world of comics that spans all the floors of the Beaubourg, one of the pioneering institutions to recognise its central importance as an artistic expression. For the retrospective dedicated to Corto Maltese and his literary references, could there be a better place than the Bibliothéque?

Free admission subject to availability of seats
Library BPI, level 2
29 May – 4 Nov 2024
12pm – 10pm, every mondays, wednesdays, thursdays, fridays
10am – 10pm, every saturdays, sundays

The only character who will have an entire dedicated section will be Corto Maltese himself, hosted in the spaces of the Bibliothèque Publique de Information (level 2, with free entry). This is because, for the French who discovered it and consecrated it to the general public even before us Italians, Corto has always been a myth and a synonym of independence, of the ability to go beyond the lines to see the depths.

Corto exhibited in a public library is a tribute to his very raison d’être, namely his ability to process knowledge. Corto travels, and the spirit with which he does so is timeless, because the values of freedom and curiosity are always essential to respect different cultures. Corto reads, and assimilates and makes his own both the written and the unspoken, which become material for understanding his surroundings.


In the exhibition ‘Corto Maltese, Une vie romanesque’ set up in the Library, the leitmotif for the visitor will be Corto’s literary references, more than 120 original plates, in addition to reproductions, period magazines and books taken directly from Hugo Pratt’s legendary library.

This is how co-curator Patrizia Zanotti tells us about it

"In this exhibition we have tried to trace the multiple literary elements present in many of the Corto Maltese stories and the references to the many writers who have been important in shaping Hugo Pratt's imagination. We find physically portrayed Jack London, Herman Hesse, R.L. Stevenson, Henry de Monfreid, Gabriele D'Annunzio, others are mentioned through their poems: Rimbaud, Kipling, Coleridge or Melville, still others, such as Borges, appear in the name of an Argentinean railway station. Then there is the complete story of Dream of a Midwinter Morning, a clear homage to the Celtic world quoted paraphrasing the title of William Shakespeare's famous play."

Pratt said that ‘the stroke starts with the need for a line and arrives at the imperative of the word, and that is how comics are born‘, and the exhibition catalogue, produced by Casterman and available in French and English, is also full of words and images.

available from 15 May 2024

price € 25,00
144 pages – 24 x 32 cm
In full colour
ISBN :9782203284364

La BD à tous les étages –Bande dessinée, 1964 – 2024



“La BD à tous les etages”: an exhibition where comics literally occupy all the spaces of the Beabourg, in addition to “Une vie romanesque“, the floor dedicated to 60 years of drawn literature(Bande Dessinée 1964- 2024) will take us on a journey through the production of comics in all latitudes of the world: from American classics to European myths to new oriental trends.

As a tribute to its revolutionary design since its inauguration in 1977, the Pompidou has established itself as a cultural centre at the forefront of promoting the visual arts of the 20th and 20th centuries, including comics when, as Pratt put it, comics were still a useless thing.

With such emblematic exhibitions as “Comics and Everyday Life” in 1977, “Paper Heroes, Complete Stories of the 1950s” in 1988 and “Hergé” in 2006, the Centre Pompidou was one of the pioneering institutions in the recognition of comics as an art form, and true to this heritage of innovation with “La BD à tous les Étages” will greet the public before closing for a renovation we can’t wait to discover.

Some of the artworks on display at the Bibliothèque Centre Pompidou in Paris for the exhibition dedicated to Corto Maltese ‘Une vie romanesque’