Richard Warren

"Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)

In praise of Chas Laborde

Mention of Chas (Charles) Laborde in the context of Edward Burra (previous post) gives an excuse to praise the recent book on Laborde – cartoonist, illustrator, artist, printmaker, flaneur, Anglophile, people-watcher and man-in-the-crowd – by Emmanuel Pollaud-Dulian, who runs the excellent Laborde website here. This is a highly acceptable little book, with well over 100 pages crowded with wonderful colour pics, and a readable and informative text (in French).

'A Busy Street, Paris' 1929

Rightly, it skips over the earliest cartoon years and focuses on the city studies – Paris, London, New York, Moscow, Madrid and Berlin. The Spanish Civil War images were a revelation to me, though the relative fuzziness of the lithograph does not best suit Laborde, who was at his most astounding, in my humble opinion, when employing the taut, slender, etched line. Anyway, the book is available for just 19 euro’s, or £15 odd on Amazon UK. Meanwhile, here’s my own small Laborde etching, of which I’m very fond.

It’s extraordinary how immersion in Laborde’s images shapes reality. Two minutes on the London underground and you’re in the Labordean universe – the subtle arcs of the edge of an arm or a leg, the glance over the shoulder, the criss-crossing figures in all the eccentric variations of the human form. Same places, same people, just eighty years on.


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