Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

April 15, 2005

Andre Francois, 1915-2005


The great cartoonist, illustrator and artist Andre Francois passed away on Monday in France, according to a piece appearing in today's New York Times. Born in Romania as Andre Farkas, Francois studied in Budapest where he first became interested in graphic art. Although he worked as a cartoonist upon leaving school and settling in France, his great heyday was the 1950s and 1960s, where his cartoons, paintings and visual essays graced magazines like Holiday, Sports Illustrated, and The New Yorker, for which he was a frequent cover artist as well as, for a time, the person generally in charge of the cover. Francois was a notable contributor to Punch, delved into several related forms of art and design, and had numerous exhibitions of his later work, including sculptures and paintings. A photo of the artist at what looks like one of those exhibitions is here.

The Times piece quotes Walt Kelly on Francois' playful, vigorous and influential work:
"He seems to capture an idea with a pounce. He throws it to the ground in a frenzy, hacking at it with quick strokes to delineate its likeness. He never waits to pretty it up, smoothing its fur or arranging its limbs with the decency due unto death. His ideas are never mummified in technique or stuffed, or tanned and stretched. They are not fossils of style."

You can see a few more color works through this page, and four more examples of the artist's lively and fun black and white work can be found by clicking on the illustration below.


Francois last made headline news in December 2002, when a fire ravaged his studio and destroyed nearly a lifetime of original work. From this page you can read testimonials to the artist from peers and admirers like Ralph Steadman who heard about this misfortune. The one by Ronald Searle is particularly nice.

There are several Francois books worth digging through and your local bookstore to find, most importantly The Penguin Andre Francois, The Tattooed Sailor and Other Cartoons From France, and The Half-Naked Knight.

Andre Francois is survived by a wife of more than 60 years, a son, a daughter and a sister. He was 89 years old.
posted 4:37 pm PST | Permalink

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