The Abstracts, part 1

'Sweet Child', Cover illustration by Fabien Loris (1925)
Sweet Child‘ by Richard A. Whiting; Al. Lewis & Howard Simon (published by Francis-Day, Paris, 1925). Cover illustration by Fabien Loris.

Isn’t she a beauty? What a Sweet Child, I’m wild about her! The cover is by Fabien Loris, an underestimated (and often unknown) French illustrator. One of these days we want to tell you about his venturesome life and work.  But today we dwell on his skilfulness to apply geometrical patterns, lines and planes in order to achieve powerful designs. The work of Loris is strong because not only does he elegantly stylise his subject (in a wild art-deco or cubistic fashion), he also continues his abstraction in the decor, the lettering and the creative layout of the sheet music cover. His images stand out from the sometimes dreary crowd of printed music.

The cover ‘For My Sweetheart’ is another example in which Loris boldly uses stark shapes, straight lines and coloured planes to attract attention. It is as if Loris wants to use the few seconds that someone pays attention, to conjure up an atmospheric image about the song, and fling at that persons eye the mood and the intensity of the music.

'For My Sweetheart', sheet music cover llustrated by Fabien Loris (1926)
For My Sweetheart‘, by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn (Publications Francis-Day, Paris, 1926). Illustrated by Fabien Loris.

For other sheet music designs, Loris fearlessly went further into abstraction, letting go almost all figurative representation. We can only thank whoever was in charge at the Francis-Day publishing house, to have let the young Fabien Loris have his artistic audacity…

'Only For You', illustrated by Fabien Loris in 1926.
Only For You‘, by Mark Strong and Graham John (Publications Francis-Day, Paris, 1925), illustrated by Loris.
'Don't Sing Aloha when I Go', Illustration attributed to Fabien Loris.
Don’t Sing Aloha when I Go‘, by Ben Black; Walter Smith & Neil Moret (Publications Francis-Day, Paris, 1926). Cover illustration attributed to Fabien Loris.
'Don't Wake Me Up', sheet music illustrated by Fabien Loris
Don’t Wake Me Up‘, by M. Vayne & Abel Baer (published by Francis-Day, Paris, 1926). Cover most likely illustrated by Fabien Loris.
Sheet music cover designed by Fabien Loris. (1925)
Want a little loving‘, by Harry Warren and Benny Davis, published by Francis-Day (Paris, 1925). Sheet music cover designed by Fabien Loris.
Partition illustrée par Fabien Loris (1927).
Calling‘, Music by Ernie Golden and lyrics by Raymond Klages. Published by Francis-Day (Paris, 1927) and illustrated by Loris.

The abstract covers of Loris are vibrant and dynamic. They are of course physically static images. A decade later in 1938, the German scissor-and-paper magician Oskar Fischinger brings the playful relation between animated abstract form and music to the summum bonum. Take delight in what he created for Franz Liszt’s 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody !


One thought on “The Abstracts, part 1”

  1. Frank en Divine, alle fraaie bladmuziek weer opgeslagen. Zijn dit jullie nieuwe aanwinsten of zijn dit exemplaren uit jullie voorraad ?

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