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French cartoonist Sempe, famous for the cover of The New Yorker, dies at 89

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Paris — FrenchThe Cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempe, who earned international acclaim for his series of over 100 New Yorker magazine covers, has died at the age of 89. His finely drawn urban landscapes offer a gentle and social commentary on contemporary life.

"Tender irony, intellectual delicacy, jazz. We will never forget Sempe. We will miss his worldview and his pencils so much," French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted. wrote to

One of France's most famous visual his artists, his Sempe painted scenes of everyday life in exquisite detail. He is usually painted in pastel colors from above his head or from afar.

Born in a village near Bordeaux on 17 August 1932, Sempe never completed high school, changed jobs, and briefly served in the army before moving to Paris in the 1950s, where he started making a living by working in drawing.

He had his first success in the late 1950s with Asterix writer Rene Goscinny in a series of children's books about schoolboys, "Le Petit Nicolas."

His international breakthrough came in his late 1970s. He began painting the covers of The New Yorker, sketching city life as seen by outsiders. His characters often got lost in large crowds or turned their backs on wide panoramas.

Most of his paintings had little or no dialogue, but short captions often subtly hint at the characters' worries and hopes.

"There is a lot of quiet emotion in Sempe's paintings," Lemonde cartoonist Plantou told French Inter radio.

Sempe's favorite subjects are: Children, trees, cats, musicians, and life in Paris and New York. In his comics, he rarely used text to make sarcastic comments about big city life.

The November 2015 cover of The New Yorker magazine depicts an affluent elderly couple taking an autumn walk on the sidewalks of New York City, with two uniformed men. A doorman rakes up dead leaves in front of them to make it look like they are walking through the woods.

A person on a bicycle was one of Sempe's favorite subjects of his.

"It was one of my dreams. To have a group of friends riding bikes in the countryside every Sunday morning. In real life, that never happened. I'll try to sort it out." But everyone was too busy to slow down," he told The New Yorker in a 2019 interview. (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by William Mallard and Emelia Sithole-Matarise )