Illustrator, artist, muralist and bon viveur André Maurice Durenceau was born in Auray, France in 1904 and by the time he was 24 he’d emigrated to the USA and had his first limited edition folio of designs, called “Inspirations”, published.
There’s very little easily accessible biographical detail about Durenceau on the web, but thanks to Time Magazine’s online archive, we can learn that he had acquired US citizenship and was thriving as a muralist in Hollywood around 1934, and that he was a colour adviser to Technicolor. He went on to pursue a career as an illustrator, illuminating several books and occasionally producing some modernist art deco paintings.
There’s evidence that he worked as a textile designer in the US, and it’s likely that he had studied design before arriving stateside.
Be prepared for some colour overload as you feast your eyeballs on these boisterous designs.
I found them on the New York Public Library site, and you’ll notice that they own a rather grubby, apparently flood damaged copy of the Inspirations folio. I’ve corrected the scans slightly, but if I’d followed my impulse to give them a total wash and scrub up treatment, some of the colour might have suffered, so I held back. A bit.
Continue reading this post, there’s a lot more text and pictures after the fold, here >>
I’ll bet there are designers still knocking off his work today, 80 years later….
Durenceau had a completely fearless attitude to colour. Johannes Itten had only just published his seminal book “The Art of Colour” in Europe a couple of years before Inspirations was published.
I’ve a strong feeling that if Durenceau had read it, he would have thrown it against the wall, and carried on down his own path, laughing at Swiss theories.
The amazing colour saturation of these prints is achieved by using the pochoir process. The designs are cut out of a number of stencils and the colour is deposited in a series of applications with a large flat round brush that produces a very rich sheen of pigment. The picture below shows the brush and the stencil being held down on the artwork. If you read French, this book explains it perfectly.
The University of Cincinnati Library has a page explaining the pochoir process here, and The Smithsonian has a gallery of pochoir printmakers here.
Here’s a couple of his figurative works to finish with –
Here’s a newspaper picture of him from New Year’s Day 1939, when he’s just been commissioned to sculpt a mural for one of the upcoming World Fair’s pavilions.
and here’s the text from the same news article. (24kb PDF file)