• Inducted in 2003
  • Illustration
  • Born November 9, 1915
  • Died April 11, 2005

André François

A graphic arts master whose protean career forms a bridge from the beginnings of modern graphic design to the present, André François was born November 9, 1915 in Timisoara, a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that shortly afterwards became Romania. He briefly attended the Beaux-Arts school in Budapest before moving to Paris to study with the great A.M. Cassandre. On the latter’s recommendation, young André designed his first posters for the famed French department store Galeries Lafayette, and then was commissioned to produce graphic works for the 1937 World Exhibition in Paris.

At that same time François also began creating cartoons. Since the 1940’s, his exquisitely witty and elegantly executed illustrations have earned him an enduring international career, appearing in such well-known newspapers and magazines asActionArchitecture d’Aujourd’huiElleLe Fou ParleHaute SociétéLe Nouvel ObservateurRéalitésRecordLa Tribune des NationsVogueLilliputThe ObserverPunchFortuneHolidayLook and The New Yorker, for which François created a total of 57 covers.

In 1939 François married Englishwoman Margaret Edmunds with whom he discovered a love of the sea. The couple settled in the port city of Marseilles, spent the war in the mountains, and in 1945 moved to a small village north of Paris, Grisy-les-Platres. There, in a modest French farmhouse, its walls painted by André with tromp-l’oeil shelves of books, furniture and bric-a-brac, the artist and his wife have lived and worked, entertaining countless visitors with unforgettable warmth and hospitality.

François has been illustrating books since 1946, including the works of Diderot, Jacques Prevert, Alfred Jarry and Boris Vian, as well as his own. Robert Delpire, with whom François has enjoyed a long friendship, publishes many of his books, including the well-known Crocodile Tears. Their other collaborations include numerous posters for Citroën and Nouvel Observateur, to name but a few. In England, François became friends with Ronald Searle and Germano Facetti, art director of Penguin Books, for whom he designed countless book covers. He also designed playing cards for Natasha Kroll, art director of Simpson Piccadilly.

François designed sets and costumes for theater in England and France, including Le Velumagique for Roland Petit, Pas de Dieuxfor Gene Kelly’s ballet at the Paris Opera, The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Brouhaha by Georges Tabory for the Aldwych Theater in London. Since 1960, his time has been devoted mainly to painting, engraving, collage and sculpture.

François has had numerous one-man shows, including the Galerie Delpire, Museé des Art Decoratifs, and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; the Wilhelm-Busch Museum in Hanover, and the Galerie Bartsch-Chariau in Munich; the Mitsukoshi Museum in Tokyo and three other museums in Japan; as well as in Belgium, Austria, other cities around France, and in Chicago. François has been a major influence on many of the best-known illustrators and designers of the past five decades working in the United States, Europe and Japan, earning a unique affection among his peers. After a tragic fire burned his studio to the ground in December 2002, destroying most of his works, an outpouring of letters from colleagues around the world urged him on. Illustrator Guy Billout summed up the sentiments of the others when he wrote, “Your legacy is very much in the hearts and souls of many of us, and it is eternal.”

Please note: Content of biography is presented here as it was published in 2003.