Andre Francois was an exuberant satirist and prankster; unpredictable with witty insight and the clarity of high art…
Whether art is good or bad has nothing to do with whether it is satiric or solemn. History has shown a long and great line of works, which, if they have been thrown out the front door of art, have returned by the back to sit enthroned today among other noble works. Who would exile from art the Greek satyr, the monsters of the Byzantine columns with their curious preoccupations, the gargoyles of Notre Dame, the subhuman and ultrahuman characters of Bosch and Bruegel? Who would seek to dismiss Callot or Daumier or Hogarth from art?
The line continued other satirical artists whose work can be considered serious art such as Saul Steinber, Ronald Searle, Maccari in italy and Andre Francois in France. Of course there was the immortal George Grosz whose work struck the prewar world of the 1920’s with such impact and revelation. The drawings of these men will assuredly live as have those of Callot and Daumier.
It is said that with most of us, the soul is a deeply buried affair, making its appearance now and then in strange and unaccountable acts and images. The life of an artist, and perhaps of any so-called creative person, is often described as a long self-denuding process- a sort of search to discover just who exactly they are, what they want, and what they really like and are like. Whenever they finally succeed in this unwrapping activity, then, theoretically, they ought to know what to paint or write, and just how to go about it.
Of course, if they don’t care to accept what they find, or risk so much exposure, they may go through life dressed like someone else, which is a common enough solution. With a talent like Andre Francois, they were of the type that seemed to be born with a complete understanding of themselves; well acquainted with whatever foibles were his, and resigned to living with them and even elaborating on them somewhat. ( to be continued)