Nicolas de Crécy : Ruthless Portrait to Open at Philippe Labaune Gallery




Café de Paris, 2001, Charcoal and crayon on paper, 15.5 x 20.75 inches. Image courtesy of the gallery.

Philippe Labaune Gallery will open its doors to Ruthless Portrait, an exhibition of paintings and drawings by French artist Nicolas de Crécy. The Paris based artist offers, through his various portraits, his singular vision of human beauty removed from the common standards of advertising aesthetics. These are the faces of the street that no one would notice, faces without apparent beauty, sometimes damaged by life, often hollowed out by age, sublime or sad, yet always mesmerizing once interpreted by Crécy. Opening April 28th.

Nicolas de Crécy offers, through his various portraits, a singular vision of human beauty removed from the standards of advertising aesthetics. In his paintings, through what is still today considered to be a model of perfection, the artist is able to echo Greek and Roman statuary by highlighting contrast, the banal, and the non-aesthetic. Indeed, these are the faces of the street that no one would notice, faces without apparent beauty, damaged by life, hollowed out by age, sometimes ridiculous, often strange, yet always amazing once one takes the time to discover them. Nicolas de Crécy’s references are to be found in the German expressionism of the thirties, Otto Dix and Georges Grosz, and their sharp and raw vision of the human condition. Even if less perceptible, other influences are present, such as those of the great portrait painters Marlène Dumas and Alice Neel, through the powerful portrayal of the fragility that emanates from their models.

Déesse Sylvestre, 2021, Oil on canvas, 16.25 x 16.25 inches. Image courtesy of the gallery.

For this exhibition, Nicolas de Crécy worked on the pieces presented using various techniques: ranging from simple charcoal to evoke the strength of black and white, to the black ink of the pen for drawings in precise hatching and watercolor, whose fluid and luminous colors create a unique atmosphere. Lastly, the use of oil on canvas, which, by the discrepancy resulting from their classical style combined with the description of a certain disgrace, impose the original and uncompromising universe of the artist. In addition, three oils, one on paper, the second on wood, the last on canvas, represent a transatlantic liner. We can see the evocation, within the very heart of the exhibition, of the principle that constitutes it: an art designed and worked on in France, which crosses the Atlantic to be presented in the United States. A crossing from Le Havre to New York in a way, which reminds all those who know the books of Nicolas de Crécy of the imaginary city he staged there: the famous New-York-sur-Loire.

Nicolas de Crécy was born in Lyon in 1966. He was part of the first promotion of the Angoulême Superior School of Image, from which he graduated in 1987. He then worked for the Disney studios in Montreuil, before publishing his first book, Foligatto, in 1991, on a screenplay by Tjoyas, which was immediately acclaimed by critics. This was followed by the Bibendum Céleste, and, with Sylvain Chomet, the series of Léon la came published in the magazine “A Suivre”; the second volume of which won the Alph-Art for best album at the Angoulême festival in 1998. The artist also supervised the artistic direction of the cartoon La Vielle Dame et les Pigeons in 1998. In 2003, a controversy accompanied the release of “Les Triplettes de Belleville” by Sylvain Chomet, with many animation professionals and comic artist accusing the director of having plagiarized the work of Crécy.

Nicolas de Crécy, Patriarcat, nd, Charcoal and crayon on paper, 19 x 14 in. Image courtesy of the gallery.

In the world of graphic novels, Nicolas de Crécy has explored several avenues with a great mastery of drawing coupled with complex and ironic scenarios such as: the use of direct colors in Le Bibendum Céleste, the fast black and white in Monsieur Fruit, the exploration of a silent story in Prosopopus, a wacky tale in Salvatore, an autobiography of a drawing in Diary of a ghost, or even an album co-published by the Louvre Museum and Futuropolis, Période Glaciaire,  which won numerous prizes, and whose original strips were the subject of an exhibition at the Louvre Museum in 2009-2010.

In 2017, in association with Louis Vuitton, he released the fashion house annual Travel Book showcasing the beauty of Mexico as a baroque land full of colors and poetry.  In 2019, Crécy released Visa Transit, an autobiographical graphic novel about a car trip from France to Turkey. Nicolas de Crécy lives and works in Paris, France.

About Philippe Labaune Gallery ~ Founded in 2021, Philippe Labaune Gallery is devoted to championing and presenting original 20th and 21st century comic art and illustrations by emerging and established artist from around the world. For sales inquiries, please contact Philippe Labaune at: For press inquiries, please send an email to

Nicolas de Crécy : Ruthless Portrait will be on view from April 28 to June 18, 2022 with an Opening on April 28th from 6:30 to 9:00pm. Philippe Labaune Gallery is located 534 West 24th Street, Ground Floor, NYC.

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