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Machines à dessiner

Machines à dessiner was an exhibition at Musée des Arts et Métiers (Paris). François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters were the curators of this exhibition. They were assisted by Eric Dubois, associate professor of applied arts and teacher at the Ecole Boulle.

The Machines à dessiner exhibition could be visited from October 25, 2016 until February 26, 2017, and was extended to March 26, 2017.

Machines à dessiner was described at the entrance of the exhibtion as follows: “Machines à dessiner immerses us in the world of François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters, leading us through their distinctive imagery. Century-old technical objects and rare or hitherto unseen images become the clogs in some vertiginous dream engineering.

Far from wanting to explain everything, Machines à dessiner wagers on discovery through sensitivity and emotion. As the vehicles for this initiatory voyage, the objects and images chosen from the reserve store at the Musée des Arts et Métiers are less a medium for scientific discourse than a source of amazement. Drawing is revealed as a physical and mental activity, like reason and imagination, and François Schuiten's magical realism is one of its finest demonstrations.

Between the fantastical universe of Schuiten and Peeters and the world of techical science the exhibition strives above all to portray the timeless magic of the art of drawing. Regardless of how the tools may have evolved, from table to tablet, drawing is not an act of the past: as a way of looking at the world and understanding it better, it is more up-to-date than ever”.

This exhibition also marked the release of the second volume of Revoir Paris.


The idea for the exhibition Machines à dessiner was first launched in 2015 when François Schuiten was the resident artist of Musée Arts et Métiers. The preparations took almost two years. Schuiten and Peeters were assisted by Eric Dubois during this proces.

You can see more of the preparations at Preparations of Machines à dessiner.

Introduction video

Musée des Arts et Métiers made a video to introduce the exhibition. The video was produced by Vladimir Peeters. The music in the video and in the exhibition is composed by Bruno Letort.


Image by Louvre pour nous 1).

Vladimir Peeters made the following guided tour video of the exhibition. It give you a nice impression of the exhibition.

Tv5 Monde also visited the exhibition and showed the exhibition and had an interview with Benoît Peeters for “Demandez le programme” (aired on November 29,2016). Presented by Estelle Martin.

Naissance d’une affiche

The announcement poster for Machines à dessiner was made by François Schuiten. The graphical design of the poster is by Philippe Ghilmetti.

Announcement poster Machines à dessiner

For this occasion, Atlantic 12 published the exhibition poster, Machines à dessiner, in a limited edition. Reproduced on offset in a 70x50cm format, the poster Machines à dessiner was available in a signed and numbered version of 200 copies as well as unsigned or numbered versions 2).

François was filmed during creation process by Vladimir Peeters. From this footage the movie Naissance d’une affiche was produced by Musée des Arts et Métiers and Les Piérides SPRL 3). The movie was a huge succes with over 200,000 views in the first week after publication on Facebook 4). See Naissance d’une affiche for more details about this movie.


The exhibition was officially opened on October 24, 2016 with a press meeting in the afternoon and a special opening event in the evening. You can read more about the opening at Opening of Machines à dessiner.

Machines à colorier

Machines à dessiner wants to emphasise the beauty of drawing. In the Naissance d’une affiche movie it shows how François Schuiten made his drawing, but it also gives you the opportunity to make your own drawings by offering free pencils and place to draw.

The book Machines à colorier is the result of a co-publication between Atlantic 12 and Les Impressions Nouvelles. It takes thirty printed designs of François Schuiten in black & white on beautiful paper (32×24 cm in size) and suitable for coloring. These designs turn all around the theme of machines, that is very present in the world of François Schuiten and more broadly in the Obscure Cities. While some designs were chosen from a coloring simplicity, the majority of reproductions that you will have leisure to color according to your taste, will make you realise the complexity of his work.

Une image peut se révéler de mille et une façons grâce à la couleur. Les choix effectués peuvent la conduire à des résultats complètement différents. Quelquefois, devant le chemin choisi, on regrette de n’avoir pas osé tel contraste, telle lumière. On rêve alors que d’autres puissent réinventer le dessin.

Ici, les images sont offertes vierges. Elles retrouvent toutes leurs potentialités. Elles permettent à celles et ceux qui le veulent de jouer avec elles, de créer d’autres climats, d’autres matières, de les faire éclater, de les arracher à leur réalisme, d’aller peut-être les porter jusqu’à l’abstraction pour trouver d’autres émotions. Que ces dessins revivent de nouvelles histoires à travers vos doigts !

François Schuiten


Casterman published the catalogue of this exhibition.

The book offers a long interview with François Schuiten on the practice of drawing, numerous unpublished images and rare documents from the archives of the CNAM.

The catalogue has 96 pages and has the same size as the catalogue made for Revoir Paris. It is published with the start of the exhibition and costs 30 euros.

Metro announcements

The exhibition was also announced with huge boards in the Paris underground. They could be found at the stations like Porte Maillot, Mabillon and Monceau.

After the prolongation of the exhibition another campagne was done in the Paris underground. Photo by François Schuiten.

Around the exhibition

Musée des Arts et Métiers organised some activities around the exhibition.

There were daily Guided tours of the exhibition, every day at 15:30 hrs. The tour took 45 minutes 5).

On several dates there was an event for children between 7 and 12 years: Dessine-moi une machine. The dates: November 2, November 16, December 7, December 28 and December 31, 2016. On all dates the event was from 14h30-17h00 6).

Also several drawing classes were given. During the first evening the drawing class was fully booked. Eric Dubois made the following image of that session.

drawing class at Machines à dessiner

Practical details

Musée des arts et métiers (CNAM)
Temporary Exhibition Room
Directly accessible from the entrance of the museum, this space is dedicated to the presentation of exhibitions.
60 rue Réaumur
75003 Paris

Full price: € 6 / Reduced price: € 4 for job seekers, students, teachers & under 18. Free: - 5 years, tour guides, friends of the Musée des Arts et Métiers, CNAM staff, person with disabilities + 1 escort, an educational workshop accompanist (for 10 children), ICOM cards / AMCSTI / Standing invitation, auditors CNAM, journalists.

Métro: Arts et Métiers (ligne 3)