Andre Francois Biography

Andre Francois




Romanian sculptor, printmaker, painter, and illustrator Andre Francois was born Andre Farkas in Temesvar, Austria-Hungary (now Timisoara, Romania), in 1915. He studied at the Budapest School of Fine Arts before moving to France, where he studied in the atelier of poster artist Adolphe Cassandre from 1935 to 1936. He became a naturalized citizen in in 1939 and changed his surname to Francois, fearing for his Jewish family’s safety as World War II gained steam.

At the fall of France in 1940, he moved his family to Marsailles, and then Savoie. After the liberation, they returned to Paris, eventually settling in a farmhouse in Grisy-les-Platres, where he set up his studio in the garden. There, he created mixed-media sculptures and paintings, working within themes of nature and animals.

Francois’s printmaking career was both as a fine and a commercial artist. From the 1930s he created lithographic posters for film and theater, and in the 1960s and ‘70s began to experiment with printmaking as a fine art, focusing on abstract color etching and lithography. He became known for his bold, rough abstractions of people and animals, sometimes humorous, sometimes verging on Surrealism.

His prolific career also expanded into cartoon and illustration.  He drew political cartoons for the Leftist publication Le Nouvel Observateur, soon gaining recognition by major publications throughout Europe, the U.K., and the U.S. He illustrated nearly 50 covers for the New Yorker, as well as several for Punch, Sports Illustrated, Life, Vogue, Esquire, Le Mode, and Fortune. Additionally, he illustrated a variety of book covers and published his own children’s books. He was a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale.

Francoise exhibited widely, including major retrospectives at the Museé d’Art moderne in Paris (1986) and the Mitsukoshi Museum, Tokyo (1995). In 1977 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of London. In 2002, a studio fire destroyed all his work that was not in a collection or museum, including sculpture, paintings, and works on paper. The following year, he held an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, titled “Ordeal by Fire”.

He died on April 11, 2005, at the age of 89.