Lycée de l’Image et du Son d’Angoulême (LISA)

Angoulême, France | C.1989

Photo Credit: Accidentally Wes Anderson


An obelisk adorns the outside walls, Greek and Roman columns, palm trees, and a Japanese bridge all featured in a brightly colored narrative offers a non-stop visual feast that one could at least imagine popped out of a comic book…welcome to your first day of high school.

Just as art is often a study in contrasts, in Angoulême, there is a constant play between its ancient architecture and modern culture. Known as the Ville de l’Image, or City of the Image, it is home to the Lycée de l’Image et du Son d’Angoulême (LISA), a high school on the progressive edge of the creative arts.

Opened in 1989, the school was ordained as an ambitious project for a city that has held one of the largest comics festivals in the world. Since 1974, the International Comics Festival has taken place here, attracting 200,000 visitors each year. After the success of this festival, the National Center for Comics and Image was opened, and it was decided that a high school should be constructed to complete the trifecta – and become an attraction in and of itself.

The architect, Jean-Jacques Morisseau, best known for his Opéra de la Bastille in Paris, lead the project. The Lycée, or LISA, was a chance for the city to link the old architecture with a new style, one that borrows and contrasts in a post-modern pastiche of styles from around the world.

The school likens itself to a Medieval Cathedral, in that the symbolic architecture should be accessible to the students, to inspire and enrich. This is especially important in students who are in the school’s programs for visual and audiovisual communication. LISA has a regional television station and 250-seat theater for students to take tracks in image, sound, editing, graphic design, postproduction, and numerous other topics. 

In a city as old as Angoulême, the act of creating something new heavily relies on looking to the old. The town hall itself was built in the frame of the castle that was built on the footprint of an old stronghold. A high school that specializes in the visual arts must honor that tradition of building upon the old and creating something new. Morisseau’s striking building surely does that. And for a city that has become known as the City of the Image, it is a cultural attraction of its own alongside the other creative strongholds that sit within the city’s limits. 

🖼 Available as a collectable, limited-edition art print 

Written By: Chris Gilson

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