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Famed Illustrator André François Passes Away

Romania-born cartoonist and illustrator André François, whose satirical style moves editorial cartooning away from traditional realism, died on April 11, 2005, at his home in Grisy-les-Plâtres, France, reports THE NEW YORK TIMES. He was 89. Cause of death was heart and kidney failure.

From the 1950s through the 80s, François's work ran frequently in top French satiric magazines and American publications like THE NEW YORKER, HOLIDAY, VOGUE and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. His also contributed art to many children's and adult illustrated books and advertising posters.

Moving away from romantic realism and literalism, François's crude, but sensual black-and-white brush drawings and simply colored paintings used surreal and ironic juxtapositions.

"Along with Saul Steinberg, he was the shining light of world illustration in the 50s," said the designer and illustrator Milton Glaser. "All of us beginning our practice at that time were deeply inspired by him."

Born André Farkas in 1915 in Timisoara, Romania, he studied in Budapest, Hungary. His early influence was French Art Deco poster artist, A. M. Cassandre. In 1934, he moved to Paris and began to study with Cassandre at the artists newly opened art school. He became a French citizen in 1939 and changed his name to François. That same year he married Englishwoman, Margaret Edmunds and remained married until his death. She survives him, along with a daughter, Catherine, and a son, Pierre, an architect, and his surviving sister Violette Marc of Norgent-sur-Marne, France.

As a Jewish, leftist artist, he hid from the Germans during World War II on a farm in Savoie. From his studio there he created hundreds of cartoons for the leftist newspapers ACTION and LES LETTRES FRANÇAISES.

In 1952, François's first book, DOUBLE BEDSIDE BOOK, was published. Later he illustrated a book for the poet Jacques Prévert, and his children's book CROCODILE TEARS was published in 1956 and has been translated into 14 languages. his other books included THE PENGUIN ANDRÉ FRANÇOIS and THE TATTOOED SAILOR AND OTHER CARTOONS FROM FRANCE.

In the late 50s, he entered the advertising business with poster campaigns for Stemm Socks, Citroënautomobiles, Le Printemps department store, Pirelli, Shell and the French weeklies LE NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR and TELERAMA.

In 1956 he designed sets for a Roland Petit Ballet and both sets and costumes for Shakespeare's MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR at the Royal Shakespeare Theater.

Walt Kelly, creator of the POGO comic strip, wrote of François, "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."

A fire in 2002 ripped through François's studio destroying almost all of his work. Despite failing health, he continued to produce a new body of original art to leave as his legacy.

His illustration style influenced such animators as Oscar Grillo and Yuri Norstein.

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