New Yorker artwork by Benoit Van Innis
Cartoon by Benoît.

Benoît Van Innis, who signs his work with Benoît, is a Belgian graphic artist, painter and cartoonist. He is known for his one-panel cartoons featuring static people in costume, often accompanied by ironic captions. In all fields he works in a linear, colourful style. He is also a well known tile artist who has decorated various public places. Benoît's work has often been exhibited and published all over the world.

Sequential cover illustration for a 1991 issue of The New Yorker
Sequential cover illustration for a 1991 issue of The New Yorker.

Early life
Benoît was born in 1960 in Bruges as the son of a juridic advisor. He was raised in a huge family with seven other siblings and, as was typical for Flemish bourgeoisie at the time, spoke French at home and only Dutch when meeting other people in the city. In 1976 he quit his studies at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwcollege in Bruges and took a course in painting at St. Lucas in Ghent instead, where he graduated in 1984. He counts Jean Bosc, H.M. Bateman, André François, René Magritte, William Steig, Saul Steinberg, Glen Baxter and Ronald Searle among his graphic influences. His favorite novelist is Francis Ponge, he admires film directors like Luis Buñuel, Andrei Tarkovsky, Robert Bresson and Jacques Tati and adores the music of Erik Satie.

Translation: 'Writer with courgette'.

Benoît's cartoons often feature neatly dressed people. They typically walk around in nature backgrounds (forests, beaches, gardens...). Their stiff, formal appearance provides an amusing contrast with the dry, humorous captions read underneath the illustrations. Benoît sometimes works in pen and ink, but is equally swift with oil paint. His cartoons continue the Belgian surreal tradition of René Magritte and Paul Delvaux, but also draw inspiration from classic slapstick films. Benoît was strongly influenced by comedians like Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy and Jacques Tati who - despite bumbling along - always wear dignified costumes.

Cover illustrations for The New Yorker, respectively 6 August 2001 and 10 November 2003. 

Benoît's work has been published in Belgian magazines like Panorama (later P-Magazine), Humo, Knack and Le Vif and newspapers De Morgen and De Standaard. Dutch readers know him from Vrij Nederland and the newspapers NRC Handelsblad and De Volkskrant. In France, he could be read in Lire, Magazine Littéraire, Le Monde and Paris Match. In the latter magazine, Benoît published cartoons on a bi-weekly basis, alternating with Jean-Jacques Sempé. Benoît also made several covers for Esquire and the prestigious American cartoon magazine The New Yorker. His first publication in The New Yorker was the highlight of his life, particularly when he received a congratulatory letter from Sempé.

A series of "spots" for The New Yorker, about the subject 'Readers'.

Benoît's first book, 'Scrabbelen In de Herfst' ('Playing Scrabble in the Autumn', 1989) had a foreword by Ever Meulen. His second book, 'Het Verboden Museum' ('The Forbidden Museum', 1990) came with an introduction by poet Roland Jooris. Among his other titles are 'Felle Hemel' (1993), 'Bravo, Bravo!' (2000), 'Mijn Oom Gilbert' (1995) and 'Le Vent est Bleu' (2002) . The exhibition catalogue 'Papier, Beeld & Basis' (1998) featured artwork by Benoît and Glen Baxter, scripted by Jan Florizoone and Bob Vincke. In 2008, at the request of pianist Claire Chevalier, he made illustrations inspired by the music of composers Erik Satie and François Poulenc. These were performed with monologues by actor Josse De Pauw during a stage show named 'Babar/Le Fils des Étoiles'.

Graphic contributions
Along with Gal (Gerard Alsteens), Quirit, Peter De Roy, Jan Bosschaert, Erik Meynen, Zak and Jan De Maesschalk, Benoît was one of many cartoonists who made a graphic contribution to Johan Anthierens' anti-royalty book 'Brief Aan Een Postzegel' (Kritak, 1990). Together with François Avril, Philippe Bertrand, Theo van den Boogaard, Florence Cestac, Jean-Claude Denis, Hunt Emerson, Emmanuel Excoffier, Moebius, Willem, Daniel Hulet, Ana Juan, Ralf König, Tanino Liberatore, Frank Margerin, Jean-Claude Mézières, Gérald Poussin, Miguelanxo Prado, Yves-Aloys Robellaz, Matthias Schultheiss, Raives, Gilbert Shelton, Joost Swarte, Alex Varenne, Ever Meulen, Philippe Vuillemin, Marc-Renier, Wolinski and Kamagurka he also contributed work to 'Les Aventures du Latex - La Bande Dessinée Européenne s'Empare du Préservatif' (Fondation du Présent, 1991), a Swiss educational comic which promotes condom use. Benoît additionally paid tribute to Gal (Gerard Alsteens) in Johan Anthierens' book 'Gal: de Overspannen Jaren' (Epo, 1996) and Ever Meulen during the 'Ever Meulen & Friends' exhibition in October 2017 in Brussels. 

Benoît's contribution to 'Les Aventures du Latex'. Translation: "After dinner Mr. de Kerckhove offered them a contraceptive." (A pun on "apéritif" ["aperitif"]). 

Tile art
Benoît is also known for his tile art. Some of his colourful wall paintings can be seen at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, the Grote Markt ('Grand Place') in Deinze, the care center in Wingene, the metro station in Maalbeek, the Jan Breydel association football stadium, restaurant De Refter in Bruges, and, in Antwerp at the Wezenberg public swimming pool and the Mercator-Noordstar office . On 22 March 2016, terrorist attacks in Brussels caused death and destruction at the Zaventem airport and the Maalbeek metro station. Benoît designed a new wall painting in the metro station as a memorial tribute to the victims.

Family connections
Benoît's daughter, Alice van Innis (1988), is also active as a graphic artist.

Legacy and influence
Benoît was a strong graphic influence on Belgian cartoonist Steve (aka Steve Michiels)

Design for a tile collection for Carrelages du Marais.

Benoît site

Series and books by Benoît Van Innis you can order today:


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