An Eye on Icart - Pink Flamingos

An Eye on Icart

Ever since I was a kid, the artwork of Louis Icart has held me in awe. Part of the stock that my parents had purchased from Turner Manufacturing Company for Pink Flamingos was a number of Louis Icart offset lithographs printed by Heritage Publications in 1974. Louis Icart, the French artist, became synonymous with the Art Deco movement. He had an uncanny knack for capturing the spirit of an entire era through his intricate etchings.

Louis Icart (1888–1950) was a French artist best known for his Art Deco illustrations and etchings. He gained popularity during the 1920s and 1930s for his elegant and often sensual depictions of women, capturing the spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

Icart was born on December 9, 1888, in Toulouse, France. He moved to Paris in 1907 where he started his career as an artist after being inspired by the works of Victor Hugo. He later became a successful painter, illustrator, and printmaker. His work often featured stylish, glamorous, and confident women in luxurious settings, reflecting the societal changes and shifting attitudes of the time.

He was particularly renowned for his etchings, which he produced in limited editions. His technique involved creating intricate line work and delicate shading, giving his pieces a unique and intricate appearance. Icart's subjects ranged from elegant ladies in fashionable clothing to patriotic scenes to erotica.

During the height of his career, Icart's prints were highly sought after, especially in the United States. His work was associated with the Art Deco movement, characterized by its emphasis on modernity, luxury, and geometric shapes. Icart's pieces often embodied the opulence and hedonism of the era, capturing the spirit of the Roaring Twenties (or Les Annees Folles in France).

However, as the Art Deco style waned in popularity and World War II disrupted the art market, Icart's prominence also diminished. He continued to create art, but his later works did not achieve the same level of fame as his earlier pieces.

Louis Icart passed away on December 20, 1950, in Paris. His legacy lives on through his iconic Art Deco illustrations, which remain celebrated for their intricate detail, elegance, and evocation of the cultural atmosphere of the 1920s and 1930s.

Let's dive into the six beautiful Icart illustrations that remain from my parents' wholesale purchases from Turner in the early 80s. These prints are available for purchase as mint condition new vintage lithographs printed in 1974. Each distinctly captures the spirit and elegance of the Roaring Twenties and range in tone from tranquil to seductive to wild and liberated.

Clockwise from top left: Parasol, Youth, La Belle Rose, Secrets, Joy of Life, Hortense

Clockwise from top left: Parasol, Youth, La Belle Rose, Secrets, Joy of Life, Hortense



Now, here's an interesting story--I've used ChatGPT to help draft some of the background for this blog (heavily edited and fact-checked on my end, however). When I asked ChatGPT to describe this particular illustration, it mistakenly (from what I can find) wrote that Hortense was the name of the woman within this artwork. However, my additional research did not confirm that finding. Hortense instead refers to the beautiful blue balls of flowers amongst which she is lounging: Hydrangeas. This piece sort of whisks you away to this tranquil spot where the woman's just lost in her own thoughts, surrounded by these gorgeous blooms.


"Youth" and "Joy of Life"

They might not be as famous as some of his other artwork (ChatGPT had no information on these two illustrations, and so tried to make some stuff up), but "Youth" and "Joy of Life" have a wild allure that's hard to ignore. "Youth" shows a young woman atop a windy, grassy hill, hanging out with two dogs that appear to be Borzoi. It's all about companionship and being out there in the moment. Then there's "Joy of Life," with a lady standing next to this majestic black horse, outside in the open. This particular etching could easily have been on the cover of Black Beauty. If you look closely at the brown earth in Joy of Life, you can see the delightful details of little flowers that Icart etched into the hillside. Both these scenes have this wild feminine energy, like capturing a slice of the open air.

Closer look on Joy of Life--look at the detail within this hill!



If we're talking style and class, "Parasol" takes the cake. This chic lady is perched on a stone bench, holding a brightly hued parasol that imparts an air of sophistication. It's like Icart is saying, "Hey, even everyday scenes can be turned into a work of art." At least, back when it wasn't uncommon to see a young woman holding a parasol.



"Secrets" is all about this intimate moment between two women. They're sharing something, and you can practically feel the connection just by looking at their expressions and body language. It's like you're peeking into this world of unspoken bonds.

Now, on to my favorite:

"La Belle Rose"

This one's seriously enchanting. A woman seductively leans forward, her captivating gaze directed to the viewer, while surrounded by soft pink roses in bloom. It's a captivating combination of feminine beauty and the classic charm of roses. "La Belle Rose" has this magical quality that's just impossible to resist.

From wild freedom to capturing a moment of intimacy, Icart's etchings are like little windows into a world of beauty, poise, and the simple happiness of existence. It is my hope that the six beautiful lithographs that we have available--as vivid now as they were when printed fifty years ago, and as captivating now as they were a century ago when Louis Icart imagined them into being--will make their way back out to modern audiences and reawaken the love of art deco and art nouveau in the 21st century.

Want to learn more about Louis Icart or see more of his seductive Art Deco artwork? Here are some literary references you can check out:

Louis Icart: The Complete Etchings (originally published in 1991, revised and expanded 5th edition published in 2015)

The Etchings of Louis Icart (published in 1997)

Louis Icart Erotica (published in 1998)

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