Aug 15, 2012

Artist of the Month Louis Icart

Louis Icart



In the late 80's my father-in-law passed away, he was an avid art lover a wood carver and violinist. I had admired one particular art piece he had hanging on the wall behind his grand piano.
He told me that it would be mine when he passed. I did inherit that beautiful painting but really did not know at the time what I had. Here is a picture of it:
The title is "Faust"
I absolutley love this, it is a signed print # 56 out of 700. So now here is the story of the artist who created this!

Louis was born in 1880 in Toulouse, Southern France. The Icart family lived modestly in a small brick home on rue Traversière-de-la-balance, in the culturally rich Southern French city of Toulouse, which was the home of many prominent writers and artists, the most famous being Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

His father was a banker and wished him to follow in his footsteps, but Louis loved to draw and started at an early age. Eventually he became fascinated by the arts, primarily with a love of the theatre.

In 1907 he made the move to Paris where he developed his skills in fine art, through drawing and painting and also through learning printmaking. This latter medium was to become enormously important for Icart's career. Icart concentrated on painting, drawing and the production of countless beautiful etchings, which have served more than the other mediums to permanently protect his name in twentieth century art history. The prints, most of which were aquatints and dry points, showed enormous skill. Because they were much in demand, Icart frequently made two editions. One for the European, the other American to satisfy his public. These prints are considered rare today, and when they are in mint condition they fetch high prices at auction.

He was mainly interested in fashion and worked with the couturiers with major fashion shows in Paris. He quickly learned the basics of designing gowns, dresses and various rudiments of the feminine wardrobe.

He worked for major design studios at a time when there was a shift from the 19th to the 20th centuries. Fashion was undergoing a drastic change from the meticulousness of the late nineteenth century to the simple, clingy lines of the early twentieth century. Women were tired of wearing big bulky clothes and wanted simple clothes that clung to their bodies. The new look was so charming that most fashion houses immediately took to the new look. Icart also fell into step with the illustration of the new trend.

Icart’s style was self-regulating but he had his influences, especially the French Roccoco painters, Watteau, Fragonnard and Boucher. These are artists had the same desires of painting the female subject and the clothes of that era.

With his increasingly independent expression of the female figure and his dynamic contribution in the creation of fashion we see a great mix for his main subject of his art. If we see the figure fully clothed or dressed a bit scantily, his style is the essence of Art Deco.

In 1914 he had married Fanny Volmers a beautiful and vivacious eighteen year old, often a model for the figure in his pictures.

Icart had a passion for life and a deep love for his beautiful wife Fanny. In almost every etching are glimpses of Fanny, Icart’s strongest and most constant inspiration.

Icart fought in World War I. He relied on his art to deal with the stress of war, sketching on every available surface. Icart’s works portray a care-free attitude that was needed at the time of war and the Great Depression.

By the late 1920s Icart, became very successful, both artistically and financially. He was working for both publications and major fashion and design studios, His etchings reached their height of brilliance in this era of Art Deco, a term coined at the 1925 Paris Exposition des Arts Decoratifs. Icart had become the symbol of the period.

His etchings became increasingly popular in Europe and the USA giving him an iconic status in respect to the art deco era, a status that remains to this day.

On December 20, 1950, Louis Icart died quietly in his sleep at his Montmartre home. He was buried not far from the Itteville home he loved so much. After his death his adoring wife carried out his personal affairs and promotion of his works sustained by the memory of the happiness they had shared. Fanny died in 1971 and was buried in her family tomb in Bagneaux.


Sharon Teal Coray

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