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Children’s literature: Mario Ramos, fabulist of modern times



“Mario Ramos. The most beautiful, the strongest, the smartest »

Youth illustration museum in Moulins (Allier)

“A lot of people are never young; some people are never old. » Mario Ramos, who featured this quote from George Bernard Shaw on one of his albums, definitely falls into the second category. Not because he left us at the age of 54, but because he kept, throughout his career, this part of childhood, this skin-deep sensitivity that makes his albums unique and precious. Ten years after his death, the Museum of Youth Illustration pays tribute to him in a luminous exhibition.

A clean line, a biting humor

Boosted by a joyful and inventive scenography, this walk through his personal archives, loaned by his widow and his publisher Pastel (the Belgian branch of L’École des loisirs), recounts his career and his generous personality. In the first room, the reconstitution of his library-workshop gives keys to his influences: Hergé, Chaplin, Tomi Ungerer and Saul Steinberg, but also his great-grandmother who invented “homemade” albums for his own children.

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His sketchbooks testify to his perfectionism, his concern to find the right word, the idea that hits the mark. From his first press cartoons and posters, we recognize his clean line, no frills, his biting humor but also his revolt against intolerance, injustice and the law of the strongest.

Human failings and excesses of power

Diverting the codes of tales and nursery rhymes, he summons animals to better poke fun at human failings and the excesses of power. In his hilarious hit trilogy I am the most beautiful, I’m the strongest and The Smartesthe ridicules a vain and overconfident wolf.

The exhibition also gives the opportunity to (re)discover lesser-known titles such as My eye !a brilliant visual game around common expressions (opening your eye, putting your finger in your eye…), The world upside downon the difficulty of finding one’s place when one feels different or When I was smalla touching invitation to never forget your childhood dreams.

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