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 Louis Justin Laurent Icart  (1888 - 1950)

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Lived/Active: New York / France      Known for: sensuous female figure drawing and painting, fashion design

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Ad Code: 3
Louis Justin Laurent Icart
from Auction House Records.
Boulevard des Italiens
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Louis Justin Laurent Icart was born in Toulouse in 1890 and died in Paris in 1950.  He lived in New York City in the 1920s, where he became known for his Art-Deco color etchings of glamourous women.

He was first son of Jean and Elisabeth Icart and was officially named Louis Justin Laurent Icart.  The use of his initials L.I. would be sufficient in this household. Therefore, from the moment of his birth he was dubbed 'Helli'.  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.

Icart entered the l'Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Toulouse in order to continue his studies for a career in business, particularly banking (his father's profession). However, he soon discovered the play writings of Victor Hugo (1802-1885), which were to change the course of his life.  Icart borrowed whatever books he could find by Hugo at the Toulouse library, devouring the tales, rich in both romantic imagery and the dilemmas of the human condition.  It was through Icart's love of the theater that he developed a taste for all the arts, though the urge to paint was not as yet as strong for him as the urge to act.

It was not until his move to Paris in 1907 that Icart would concentrate on painting, drawing and the production of countless beautiful etchings, which have served (more than the other mediums) to indelibly preserve his name in twentieth century art history.

Art Deco, a term coined at the 1925 Paris Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, had taken its grip on the Paris of the 1920s.  By the late 1920s Icart, working for both publications and major fashion and design studios, had become very successful, both artistically and financially.  His etchings reached their height of brilliance in this era of Art Deco, and Icart had become the symbol of the epoch.  Yet, although Icart has created for us a picture of Paris and New York life in the 1920s and 1930s, he worked in his own style, derived principally from the study of eighteenth-century French masters such as Jean Antoine Watteau, François Boucher and Jean Honoré Fragonard.

In Icart's drawings, one sees the Impressionists Degas and Monet and, in his rare watercolors, the Symbolists Odilon Redon and Gustave Moreau.  In fact, Icart lived outside the fashionable artistic movements of the time and was not completely sympathetic to contemporary art.  Nonetheless, his Parisian scenes are a documentation of the life he saw around him and they are nearly as popular today as when they were first produced.

Art Deco was a period of perfection of workmanship, and in this Icart's art is tied closely to the period. He was an expert craftsman and aimed for perfection in his etching technique. Art Deco was also a smart and sophisticated style, and Icart surrounded himself with rich materials, fine furniture, Chinese lacquer screens, and other luxuries. This refinement of taste and the luxury with which he lived also linked him to the opulent spirit of the times. Fashions were undergoing major transition. Women were eager to divest themselves of the heavy overflow of lace, cotton, buckles, and high necklines worn by their mothers. New trends called for higher waistlines, and for clothing that clung to the body rather than billowing out. Icart reflected such fashion changes in, for example, his famous and inimitable illustrations for the magazine Luxe de Paris.

In 1914 Icart had met a magical, effervescent eighteen-year-old blonde named Fanny Volmers, at the time an employee of the fashion house Paquin.  She would eventually become his wife and a source of artistic inspiration for the rest of his life.

Icart's portrayal of women is usually sensuous, often erotic, yet always imbued an element of humor, which is as important as the implied or direct sexuality. The beautiful courtesans cavort on rich, thick pillows; their facial expressions projecting passion, dismay or surprise, for the women of Louis Icart are the women of France as we have imagined them to be Eve, Leda, Venus, Scheherazade and Joan of Arc, all wrapped up into an irresistible package.

Literature:
Louis Icart: Erotica, May 1998 Wm. R. Holland
Louis Icart: The complete Etchings February 1998 Louis Icart, et al.
Boudoir Art: The Celebration of Life, March 1997 Clifford P. Catania
Icart, Michael Schnessel, West Chester, Pennsylvania, 1976
"L'oeuvre du peintre Louis Icart", Beaux-Arts, Paris, June 1921
"L'exposition Louis Icart a la Haye", Le Provençal de Paris, 8 May, 1922 Jules Veran,
Art Deco: A Guide fir Collectors, New York, 1972 Katherine McClinton,

Reference:
E. Benezit, vol. V

Source: www.roughtongalleries.com
Roughton Galleries, Dallas, Texas
Courtesy, Brian Roughton



Biography from Papillon Gallery:
Louis Justin Laurent Icart
1888-1950

Louis Icart was born in 1888 in Toulouse, France. He began drawing at an early age. His move to Paris is believed to involve his aunt, she owned a fashionable millinery shop called Maison Valmont. While visiting the Icart family saw young Louis’ work, was very impressed, and brought him to the Paris.

Icart started his career in a studio that produced sexy postcards of the type the French were famous. His first job was to make copies of existing images, but he soon began designing original works. He successfully submitted his original works to magazines and was commissioned to design covers for La Critique Théâtrale.

Icart enjoyed rapid acceptance as an illustrator of catalogues for fashion houses, and in 1913 he was invited to exhibit at the Salon des Humoristes.

The tradition of fine art etchings of beautiful women became popular in France with artists like Paul-César Helleu and Manuel Robbe. Icart learned the technique of etching on copper and took the art to new heights. Combing his understanding of fashion, his obvious love of beautiful women, and understanding the commercial value of his work Icart became one of the most popular artists of his time.

Icart met his second wife Fanny in 1914; she became his most popular model. She was an artist in her own right and a ravishing blonde beauty. He was drafted into the military in World War One; he became a pilot and flew combat missions. He sketched constantly during the war and did many etchings with patriotic themes.

Icart is known worldwide for his etchings, it is believed he created more than 500 etchings in his lifetime. He also illustrated more than thirty books, many extremely erotic, and became an accomplished painter as well. He had several distinctive styles over the years, which are mostly expressed in his color palette. Many of his early paintings are moody, with use of browns, gold, and reds. As the times became brighter so did his paintings.

In 1920 he exhibited at Galerie Simonson in Paris, and received mixed critical revues. Icart’s work was influenced by the Impressionists, like many other painters he took what he needed from them and used it in communicating his own vision of his times. His paintings are very personal and less commercial than his etchings; they were created for his own pleasure and not specifically intended to reach a large public audience. He exhibited frequently in Parisian galleries and several times in New York.

In 1922 Louis and Fanny Icart traveled to New York City for his first American exhibition. The exhibition was at Belmaison a gallery at John Wanamaker’s department store, and the exhibit later moved to Wanakamers in Philadelphia. He exhibited fifty oil paintings, and was met with mixed reviews.

In 1932 the Louis Icart Society, an organization created to market his etchings, exhibited a collection of paintings called “Les Visions Blanches.” They were shown at the Metropolitan Galleries in New York, many of the canvases were subjects similar to his popular etchings. Because Icart himself did not attend the exhibition it did not attract much publicity.

After the German invasion in 1940, Icart turned to a more serious subject. Her executed a series of paintings documenting the horrors of the occupation. This collection was called L’Exode, Icart like many of his countrymen fled Paris; these works chronicle that exodus. In the 1970s, when a renewed interest in Icart’s work was taking hold, a group of these paintings, along with several large earlier works were discovered in an attic storage facility of a Paris art academy, a sort of graveyard of forgotten art.

Icart captured the romance of Les Années Folles. His unabashed eroticism, and his incredible prolific nature gained him world renown and made him quite wealthy. From 1930 he lived in a magnificent house in Montmartre with a breathtaking view of Paris.

With the resurgence of interest in the Art Deco period, Icart’s works have enjoyed an unprecedented revival. There are several books in print on the artist. Louis Icart is one of the most recognized artists specifically identified with Art Deco, he is included in this collection in order to draw attention to his paintings, any collection of works of this period would be lacking without Icart’s inclusion.


Biography from GallArt.com:
Louis Icart, French (1880 - 1950)

Louis Icart was born in Toulouse, France. He began drawing at an early age. He was particularly interested in fashion, and became famous for his sketches almost immediately. He worked for major design studios at a time when fashion was undergoing a radical change-from the fussiness of the late nineteenth century to the simple, clingy lines of the early twentieth century. He was first son of Jean and Elisabeth Icart and was officially named Louis Justin Laurent Icart. The use of his initials L.I. would be sufficient in this household. Therefore, from the moment of his birth he was dubbed 'Helli'. 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.

Icart fought in World War I. He relied on his art to stem his anguish, sketching on every available surface. It was not until his move to Paris in 1907 that Icart would concentrate on painting, drawing and the production of countless beautiful etchings, which have served (more than the other mediums) to indelibly preserve his name in twentieth century art history. When he returned from the front he made prints from those drawings. The prints, most of which were aquatints* and drypoints*, showed great skill. Because they were much in demand, Icart frequently made two editions (one 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.

Art Deco*, a term coined at the 1925 Paris Exposition des Arts Decoratifs*, had taken its grip on the Paris of the 1920s. By the late 1920s Icart, working for both publications and major fashion and design studios, had become very successful, both artistically and financially. His etchings reached their height of brilliance in this era of Art Deco, and Icart had become the symbol of the epoch. Yet, although Icart has created for us a picture of Paris and New York life in the 1920s and 1930s, he worked in his own style, derived principally from the study of eighteenth-century French masters such as Jean Antoine Watteau, François Boucher and Jean Honoré Fragonard.

In Icart's drawings, one sees the Impressionists Degas and Monet and, in his rare watercolors, the Symbolists* Odilon Redon and Gustave Moreau. In fact, Icart lived outside the fashionable artistic movements of the time and was not completely sympathetic to contemporary art. Nonetheless, his Parisian scenes are a documentation of the life he saw around him and they are nearly as popular today as when they were first produced.

In 1914 Icart had met a magical, effervescent eighteen-year-old blonde named Fanny Volmers, at the time an employee of the fashion house Paquin. She would eventually become his wife and a source of artistic inspiration for the rest of his life.

Icart's portrayal of women is usually sensuous, often erotic, yet always imbued an element of humor, which is as important as the implied or direct sexuality. The beautiful courtesans cavort on rich, thick pillows; their facial expressions projecting passion, dismay or surprise, for the women of Louis Icart are the women of France as we have imagined them to be Eve, Leda, Venus, Scheherazade and Joan of Arc, all wrapped up into an irresistible package.

* For references for these terms and others, see AskART Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Louis Icart is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Art Deco

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