Fresnes – Observations of a Collaborateur. Part I, Paris 1947
Rio was a pseudonym of Ralph Soupault (1904-1962), who became known in the 1920s as the leading cartoonist of the French nationalist reaction. Later on he joined the French fascist party PPF, which was led by the former communist activist Jacques Doriot. Like his friend, the groundbreaking novelist Celine, Soupault was a supporter of the German occupying forces and became notorious for his anti-semitic propaganda. In 1946 he was arrested and sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment in Fresnes, a huge institution nearby Paris, which only recently was used by the Gestapo to house members of the French Résistance. In January 1947 Soupault published a detention report consisting of thirty-seven commented drawings. Here he developed a very peculiar graphic style consisting of an imaginative blend of mystical geometrical symbolism, cartoonish stereotypes and a detailled naturalistic approach. “Fresnes. Reportage d’un temoin” appeared in a limited edition and was mainly distributed to his “friends and collaborators”. Soupault was released prematurely three years later due to health reasons.