Three days after the validation of the town planning permit by the Brussels-Capital region for the construction of the future Musée du Chat – Le Chat Cartoon Museum – carried by the Belgian designer Philippe Geluck, a petition posted on April 25 asks the outright abandonment of the project, depicted as “The narcissistic fantasy of a star while most Brussels artists have serious difficulties in surviving and showing their works in decent conditions”.
In an open letter addressed to the Minister-President of the region Rudi Vervoort, the authors of the petition – the (little known) artists Denis De Rudder and Sandrine Morgante as well as a professor and a lecturer from the National School of Visual Arts of La Cambre – express their “Feelings of incomprehension and worry, even dismay and revolt” in front of this project intended “essentially for the promotion of the work of Philippe Geluck” according to them.
At the heart of their resentment, the choice of the Brussels-Capital Region to inject nearly 9.3 million euros in the construction of the said museum – the cost of which is estimated at 16 million euros – while at the same time , located a few steps away, the Museum of Modern Art, which is one of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, has been closed since February 2011 and is still awaiting renovation. The petitioners see in this gesture “A real provocation”.
If they refuse to pass a value judgment on the artistic work of the Belgian designer, Denis De Rudder and Sandrine Morgante nevertheless believe that “Comic book characters are first designed to exist in newspapers and books”, and add that “Apart from the original boards, the objects exhibited in a museum such as the one being planned are necessarily derived products”, before taking the example of the Brussels Comic Strip Museum. As for the architectural aspect of the future museum, designed by the Belgian architect Pierre Hebbelinck, it is presented as a “Urban aberration”.
Located in the historic center of the Belgian capital, not far from the Royal Palace, the Chat Cartoon Museum will cover nearly 4,000 m² in a contemporary building with seven floors, three of which are in the basement. The museum will have three main sections: the first will retrace the 40 years of the Cat’s life – created in 1983 – using various media (screens, sculptures, boards, sketches, etc.), the other two sections will be devoted to painters and visual artists on the one hand (Picasso, César, Soulages) and designers on the other (Gary Larson, Sempé, Siné, Kroll, De Moor).
To date, the petition has collected nearly 4,000 signatures.
In France, an exhibition of bronze sculptures of the Chat de Geluck is currently being held on the Champs-Elysées.