Surrealism stems from French sensibility, that special carnal fastidiousness to be discerned in Impressionist painting (and so many other modern forms of art— Fauve, Cubist and post-Impressionist), Proust, Absurdist theatre and a gamut of design ranging from architecture to cuisine.
Today I want to consider a French graphic artist from the heyday of Surrealism, namely, Lucien Boucher, and especially one of his lithos, paying tribute to a Right Bank purveyor of women’s stockings.
For his Air France map series of posters Boucher threaded various primitive and ancient motifs into the no-nonsense Mercator Projection map of the world and the various actual flight routes with their true to-fact (and yet still whimsical) airplanes.
But for the connoisseur trade, targeted by the stockings graphic, he could pull out all the stops and share with his audience the wonderful weirdness awaiting us just beneath the world of mundane commerce. Interrupting their stroll to the Opera, properly dressed passers-by (still favoring the more stolid features of the now-defunct Belle Epoque) feast their eyes upon a vision of carnality that is not so proper, but, somehow, not so shabby. Right down to the cool typography, this small but powerful lithograph is a state-of-the-art instance of striking juxtaposition. Moreover, and, I think, this is Boucher’s most remarkable strength, the play of color speaks brilliantly to mystery of an overriding sheen as including an overture of not unpleasant shock.
For further consideration of the way the designs for the suite of lithos including the one featured in this post, regarding Right Bank attractions, tear open the narrative surface of these mysterious creations, please pay a visit to our Boucher gallery.