André François (1915 – 2005)

C'est arrivé à Issy-Les-Brioches

[It happened in Issy-Les-Brioches]
Paris: La Bibliothèque Francaise, 1949
48 p., two-color col. drawings, air-brush
27,5x21,5 cm, pictorial cardboard covers, linen cloth spine

 

First written and drawn picture book by the well-known illustrator, who served as role model to Tomi Ungerer, Quentin Blake and many others.
The book and its history

It is impossible to tell who is having more fun with this little tale in words and pictures - the illustrator or the readers. In the village of Issy-Les-Brioches, two events are about to take place. An old monument pedestal is to be decorated with a new statue and a circus is on its way. The inhabitants are introduced, the baker, the butcher, and the photographer, all of whom are dreaming to see themselves on the pedestal. The children are only interested in the circus, which is shown in many pictures. During the performance, the lion is missing. Little Pierre finds him and asks him anxiously if they could not be friends. So what do you have to do to be friends? You don't eat each other, you share your treasures and tell each other stories. The lion doesn't know any stories, but he is eager to recount his travels. Back in the village, Pierre and the lion Ferroco climb the pedestal and the boy proclaims: The lion is my friend. You can all come out. There is a feast and afterwards the mayor orders a statue of Pierre and the lion, who receives a brioche (traditional French yeast pastry) from the boy.
This tongue-in-cheek village comedy lives mainly from the two-color illustrations alternating in red, green, blue, and purple, whose cartoon-style drawings are very reduced and use few strokes to characterize the cast. The alternation of full-page tableaus and narrow picture strips of pictures with small figures adds emphasis and reveals the draftsman's delight in a little comedy. It is conceivable that François created this picture story, like "Crocodile Tears," for his own children, who were of the appropriate age at the time.

Biographical note

André François, born André Farka in 1915 in Timisoara, formerly Hungary, now Romania, died in 2005 in Grisy-les-Plâtres (Val-d'Oise department), France. He gained particular fame as a French cartoonist, but also as a painter, sculptor and graphic designer.
After studying at the Budapest School of Art, he moved to Paris in 1934 and worked with the then already famous graphic designer and poster artist Adolphe Cassandre, who taught at the École Nationale Superieure des Arts Décoratifs.
François became a French citizen in 1939, married the same year and soon had two children, Catherine and Pierre. He gained fame with his cartoons for Le Nouvel Observateur, the British satirical magazine Punch and the New Yorker. His drawing style in black and white, later also in color, distinguishes itself especially by a humorous-satirical point of view. Milton Glaser calls François, together with Saul Steinberg, the "shining light" of the 1950s, who strongly influenced the younger generation of cartoonists. Tomi Ungerer, along with others, refers to him as his great role model. François also made a name for himself as a commercial artist for major companies such as Kodak, Olivetti, Citroen, Perrier and others.
In 2002, a fire in his studio destroyed almost all his work. This did not prevent him from creating a new body of work in the last years of his life. In 2011, the Centre André François was opened in Margny-lés-Compiègne / Picardy, dedicated to the acquisition and maintenance of the artistic legacy and the promotion of illustration.

Literature/Links

Centre André Francois : https://centreandrefrancois.fr/
Biography and illustrations https://www.pbase.com/csw62/andre_francois.

Sarah Moon “André Francois. Artist-Poet”, documentary, Garramedia 2004 (French with English subtitles) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pycrJeqhbc

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