Breccia 100 - Casa Nacional del Bicentenario 2019

Alberto Breccia Centennial Exhibitions in France and Argentina celebrate an incredible artist

Breccia 100 - Casa Nacional del Bicentenario 2019A centennial exhibition celebrating the life and work of the  hugely influential comic artist Alberto Breccia will open at the Casa Nacional del Bicentenario in Buenos Aires, Argentina, next month. But if a trip to South America isn’t an option for you, there’s another celebratory Breccia-focused exhibition running now at the La Ferme du Buisson, just outside Paris, side by side with an exhibition of the work of Posy Simmonds.

Curated by Laura Caraballo and Thomas Dassance, the Breccia 100 exhibition, which is being exhibited for the first time in Argentina at the Casa Nacional del Bicentenario in Buenos Aires, includes plates and original editions, magazines, books, photographs, videos, screenings and filmed interviews.

Alberto Breccia was a key and undisputed author of the world comic, inventor of forms and precursor of the most radical practices. The exhibition will allow the public to see more than 70 originals , along with dozens of documents and publications. It will be a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the universe of this liberated, committed, rebellious, generous, influential artist, and at the same time a draughtsman, painter, teacher, and experimenter.

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Breccia’s long career in comics began in 1939, when he joined the publishing house Manuel Láinez, initially working on magazines such as Tit-Bits, Rataplán and El Gorrión, creating comic strips such as “Mariquita Terremoto”, “Kid Río Grande”, “El Vengador” (based on a popular novel), and other adaptations.

Alberto Breccia (on the far right of the photo, with hands resting on the counter) at a meeting of cartoonists in the 1950s.
Alberto Breccia (on the far right of the photo, with hands resting on the counter) at a meeting of cartoonists in the 1950s.

During the 1950s he became an “honorary” member of the “Group of Venice” that consisted of expatriate Italian artists such as Hugo Pratt, Ido Pavone, Horacio Lalia, Faustinelli and Ongaro, along with Francisco Solano López, Carlo Cruz and Arturo Perez del Castillo. With Hugo Pratt, he started the Pan-American School of Art in Buenos Aires, joining publisher Editorial Frontera, under the direction of Héctor Germán Oesterheld, where he created several Ernie Pike stories.

In 1958 Breccia’s series “Sherlock Time” ran in the comic magazine Hora Cero Extra, with scripts by Oesterheld and in 1960, he began to work for European publishers through the Bardon Agency, including, briefly, drawing some westerns and war story strips for Fleetway, including Spy 13 and John Steele for the Thriller Picture Library and Kit Carson for the Cowboy Picture Library.

A dramatic full page image from Cowboy Comics Library No. 402 (May 1961), " Buck Jones: Apache Manhunt", drawn by Alberto Breccia
A dramatic full page image from Cowboy Comics Library No. 402 (May 1961), ” Buck Jones: Apache Manhunt”, drawn by Alberto Breccia

Breccia also came to the UK, as artist Ron Tiner relates in his second article about Alberto Breccia’s life, leaving Argentina in 1959 to work in England for Fleetway. The currency exchange rate at that time made the fees paid for such work extremely attractive, but he returned to Argentina in 1961, when his wife became seriously ill.

(His son Enrique Breccia also drew some strips for Fleetway in the late 1960s, such as Spy 13).

Breccia and Oesterheld are perhaps best known for their collaboration, Mort Cinder, first published in 1962 Misterix magazine, which ran until 1964 and has been recently republished in English by Fantagraphics, and his own version El Eternauta, {“The Eternaut’), a story first told by Francisco Solano López, a version noted for its incredible experimentation with graphic storytelling techniques.

Mort Cinder by Héctor Oesterheld and Alberto Breccia

He also worked with Oesterheld on Che, a comic biography of Che, the life of Che Guevara, considered the chief cause behind Oesterheld’s disappearance in the 1970s at the hands of Argentina’s military junta .

Alberto Breccia's cover for the German edition of Carlsen Verlag, published in 2008
Alberto Breccia’s cover for the German edition of Carlsen Verlag, published in 2008

Breccia, whose work became hugely popular in Europe in the 1970s and 80s is considered highly influential, on many artists, including Bill Sienkiewicz and Dave McKean – but sadly, not much of his incredible artwork available in English.
Breccia 100 - Casa Nacional del Bicentenario 2019

The Breccia 100 exhibition at the Casa Nacional del Bicentenario (“the National House of the Bicentennial”), a cultural centre and museum located in the Recoleta section of Buenos Aires, Argentina, offers a dynamic tour and a series of dazzling works, never previously exhibited in the country. Visitors will be able to appreciate the particular Breccian graphics, characterised by a unique stylistic diversity, in all its splendour.

An important spectrum of Breccia’s production will be presented, from his beginnings as a self-taught artist to his latest and greatest work.

Breccia 100 - Casa Nacional del Bicentenario 2019

Breccia 100 - Casa Nacional del Bicentenario 2019

The exhibition program includes a series of free activities, including a performance of the Colectivo Un Faulduo, talks with scholars and collectors of the work of Alberto Breccia – and a series of workshops for the schools.

The Centre opened in 2010 as a space dedicated to Argentine history and has hosted a number of temporary comics-related exhibitions. As of 2016, a conversion began with the aim of allocating the space to contemporary Argentine art, to large samples of photography, to cutting-edge programming in terms of sound art, to film cycles, workshops and seminars.

This exhibition is a continuation of a series of of Breccia exhibitions held in France, but is much bigger, offering a dynamic and immersive journey, the life and work of this great author.

Nearer to Britain, The La Ferme du Buisson, just outside Paris  is currently hosting “Les mondes fantastiques d’Alberto Breccia” – as well as an exhibition of the work of British artist and storyteller Posy Simmonds.

There, you can immerse yourself in the fantastic worlds of Alberto Breccia where Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Umberto Eco, Stevenson and Jorge Luis Borges meet. Science fiction and fantasy literature feed the drawing of this essential figure of the Argentine comic strip.

In a space inspired by the world of the writer Jorge Luis Borges, several displays each present one of the “worlds” of the Argentine author, highlighting the art of one of the greatest figures of the comics of the twentieth century.

Can’t make that, either? Well, thankfully the team behind the wonderful French official website dedicated to Alberto Breccia have very kindly posted a massive gallery of images on their Facebook page… enjoy!

One of many images of the "Les mondes fantastiques d'Alberto Breccia" exhibition posted to Facebook by the Alberto Breccia web team
One of many images of the “Les mondes fantastiques d’Alberto Breccia” exhibition posted to Facebook by the Alberto Breccia web team

• Breccia 100: 2nd May – 23rd June 2019 Casa Nacional del Bicentenario, Riobamba 985, C1116ABB,  City of Buenos Aires, Argentina | Their web site at casadelbicentenario.gob.ar is currently undergoing reconstruction with an impending new URL but an unofficial Facebook page is here | Telephone:  (+54) +11 4813.0301 / 0679 | Email: casaATcasadelbicentenario.gob.ar

• “Les mondes fantastiques d’Alberto Breccia” runs until 28th April 2019 at the La Ferme du Buisson, Scène nationale de Marne-la-Vallée, Allée de la Ferme – Noisiel, 77448 Marne-la-Vallée Cedex 2. More details here on the official web site

• Read artist Ron Tiner’s three part series on the life and work of Alberto Breccia on downthetubes – Part OnePart TwoPart Three

More about Alberto Breccia at www.alberto-breccia.net (in French) | Facebook | Lambiek

With thanks to David Roach for highlighting this exhibition, Laura Caraballo, for additional information and Mariano Buscaglia for posting promotional art; also,  Mariano Buscaglia, Cristina Breccia and Silvana Buscaglia Breccia 

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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