Tomi Ungerer

Tomi Ungerer 1993 2009 Montreux Jazz Festival
Tomi Ungerer, 2017 © Claude Truong Ngoc

1993 & 2009


It was ad man and graphic designer Roger Bornand who acted as the go-between for Claude Nobs and the great Alsace designer Tomi Ungerer, who died in 2019. The relationship nearly ended almost before it began, according to Bornand, when Nobs arrived an hour late to their first meeting at the Caux train station restaurant – a sure-fire way to irritate Tomi Ungerer – but the two men finally hit it off over a sirloin steak cooked to perfection by the Festival director. In a letter he wrote to Bornand, Tomi Ungerer made the dirty play on words “Montreux moi ton chat et je te montre ma chatte” (“Show me your cat and I’ll show you my pussy”). He later asked for male and female versions of this phrase to be put on a limited series of t-shirts, which sold out in record time. Ungerer’s satirical, wicked imagination is also evident in his mischievous black and white cat, who has little use for music theory despite being entirely inhabited by music. The poster can be seen in an episode of the TV series Treme, which is set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


The provocative Tomi Ungerer signs a second poster in 2009 after a first visual in 1993. The cartoonist and satirist plays on the meaning of the poster that is supposed to “reveal” a programme by drawing an exhibitionist in the moonlight spreading his raincoat to reveal a piano keyboard. It should be noted that the Alsatian illustrator takes up an element of his turbulent cat of 1993, since, as in his previous drawing, an alternation of black and white piano keys represent the anonymous face of the flasher. When you know that Tomi Ungerer never walks around without a hat or a sense of self-derision, we may wonder whether this figure of a satyr is not to be considered as a self-portrait.