Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nice Gams: the Art of Léo Fontan

For the past few months I've been neglecting my new found fascination with all the wonderful illustrators who worked for the early 20th century French periodical, La Vie Parisienne. So, let me introduce you to the lovely work of Léo Fontan. Among some other achievements, he is most well known for a delicious series of postcards that should delight both foot fetishists and everyone else. That is to say, they are illustrations of women's legs and feet.

He moved to Paris in 1909 after art school and I was thrilled to discover that his first paying gig was illustrating the cover of Arsène Lupin novels!


Okay, Clearly, I'm the only person who was thrilled to discover this. Everyone else just wants more pictures of pretty girls. Which there will be - but first this: Arsène Lupin is a glamorous, fictional, super-thief, created by Maurice Leblanc in 1905. He is kind of similar to the English Raffles (with whom I often confuse him), and he isn't enough read by classic mystery lovers in the English speaking world.

There is a contemporary French edition which still uses Fontan's illustrations!

Okay, back to the girls, as promised.

I don't know what Fontan's fascination was with women's stockinged legs (and I'm likely happier not knowing), but the results are charming. As mentioned above, he also worked for many popular periodicals, such as the rightly celebrated La Vie Parisienne.

During World War II he began specializing in portraits, which is what he mostly continued to do throughout his life. He continued to draw and paint until his death in 1965, even though he was plagued with failing eyesight.

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