Aslan

Artist whose work ranged from magazine pin-ups to a bust of Bardot as Marianne, symbol of the Fifth Republic

The illustrator, painter and sculptor Aslan enjoyed an unusual career, stretching from officialdom to men’s magazines.

His work ranged from eye-catching posters advertising shows at the Folies Bergère, the Crazy Horse and the Casino de Paris via the striking pin-ups that adorned the pages of Lui from 1963 to 1981, to busts modelled on Brigitte Bardot and the singer Mireille Mathieu to represent Marianne, symbol of the Fifth Republic; these were displayed in town halls from the 1960s to the mid-’80s. He also sculpted busts of Presidents Eisenhower, de Gaulle and Pompidou, but there was a common theme: “I paint and I sculpt women, the most beautiful subject an artist can have, because it is inexhaustible and eternal. I would describe myself as an intimate hyper-figurative painter and sculptor.”

Born Alain Gourdon in 1930 on the outskirts of Bordeaux, he was a precocious talent who followed his older brother Michel and passed the entrance exam to his local Fine Arts school at 14. At 16 he moved to the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he met the sculptor César, who became a lifelong friend. During military service he sculpted a bust of the Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, and went on to create wax figures for Madame Tussaud’s in London and the Musée Grévin in Paris. He illustrated children’s books and branched out into advertising, record and book jackets. His brother Michel became a specialist of pulp novel covers, and was so overworked that, when approached by the Lui launch team in 1963 he suggested Alain, who had taken up their grandfather’s Armenian name and was now known as Aslan to differentiate himself from Michel; both employed a naturalistic style influenced by Alberto Vargas, whose pin-ups they had admired in Esquire and Playboy. Aslan’s illustrations became synonymous with Lui and its US sister title Oui, and were used on calendars for car manufacturers like Fiat. Many of his gouache-on-paper originals were auctioned in Paris in 2008, with the “Cow Girl” he painted for a Crazy Horse poster reaching £10,000.

His Bardot bust from 1969 broke with the tradition of portraying Marianne as a woman of the people, and proved controversial because of the amount of cleavage. In 1978 he was asked to create the next effigy, based on Mathieu. When Lui was revived last autumn, many were disappointed his pin-ups weren’t part of the package.

 

Alain Gourdon (Aslan), artist: born Lormont, France 23 May 1930; married 1957 Brigitte Marest (two daughters); died Sainte-Adèle, Canada 11 February 2014.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why