arts and design

Tintin heirs lose legal battle over artist’s Edward Hopper mashups

The French artist who was sued by the Tintin creator Hergé’s heirs over his paintings that place the boy adventurer in romantic encounters has won his case after a court deemed them parodies.

Xavier Marabout’s dreamy artworks imagine Tintin into the landscapes of Edward Hopper, including a take on Queensborough Bridge, 1913, or talking with a less-clothed version of Hopper’s Chop Suey.

Earlier this year, the Breton artist was sued for infringement by Moulinsart, which manages the Tintin business. Moulinsart’s lawyer argued that “taking advantage of the reputation of a character to immerse him in an erotic universe has nothing to do with humour”. Marabout’s lawyer argued that the paintings were parody.

On Monday, Moulinsart’s complaint was rejected by the court in Rennes. “The court recognised the parody exception and the humorous intention expressed by my client,” Marabout’s lawyer, Bertrand Ermeneux, said.

The Rennes court also said that Moulinsart had “denigrated” Marabout by contacting galleries showing his work to say that it was infringing, Huffington Post France reported, adding €10,000 (£8,500) in damages for Marabout and €20,000 in legal fees to its ruling.

Marabout told the Guardian in March that he “imagined a romantic life for Tintin in the intimate and voyeuristic universe of the American painter. Because frankly, the universe of Hergé is terribly virile and women are completely absent.”

Moulinsart’s lawyer had argued that Hergé deliberately chose not to include women in his work, “because he found that they are rarely comic elements”.

But Marabout said: “Who can imagine a world without women? My paintings where Tintin is staged with pin-ups are funny, but behind that I wanted to show that the two universes were perfect to meet. The mystery of Hopper paintings responding to the Tintin mystery.”

His right to parody, he said, was “part of freedom of expression … a fundamental law in our democracy”.

Moulinsart has a month to appeal the decision.


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