I fell in love with SempÃ©’s cartoons back in 1997, when i walked in a reprint shop in Palo Alto and saw this drawing on the wall.
It was all framed and the labeled price is over $60. I wanted something cheaper, maybe a non-framed version. But couldn’t find it in the store. I went to another branch of the Reprint in Berkeley, they don’t have it either. After much agonizing, debating whether to buy it, worrying someone might already bought it, i eventually went back to the Palo Alto store and brought it home with me. I became obsessed with the artist, wanting to know who he is, why he draw the way he did, etc. etc.
At that time, there weren’t that much information about him on line. I tried all the bookstores and amazon.com, trying to see if there are any information about him, and of course, trying to collect his works. To my surprise, there was almost zero information about him anywhere. He seems to only exist when i receive an occasional New Yorker magazine with his cartoon on the cover. So i collected The New Yorker magazine covers.
Then last year, when the Chinese site douban.com opened, i wanted to write an article about SempÃ©. Low and behold, i found a lot more SempÃ© cartoons on line. Then i was told there was actually an SempÃ© cartoon exhibit in Beijing!
Today, when i tried to search for a particular choir cartoon by him that i remembered from his collection “Musicians”, I came upon this wonderful site that has a good summary about him and lots of interesting links: read yourself RAW – Profile – SempÃ©. One of the links turned out to be a New York Time interview with SempÃ© in 2006 – Jean-Jacques SempÃ©â€™s Tales of Two Cities!
This look distinctively New York City…
This must be Paris…