In the Spotlight: Fougasse (Cyril Kenneth Bird)
The notable British cartoonist and poster designer, Fougasse, is most well known for the propaganda posters he produced during World War Two, in particular, his “Careless Talk Costs Lives” public information posters.
Born in 1887, Cyril Kenneth Bird was educated in London and joined the Royal Engineers after obtaining a BSc in Civil Engineering at Kings College London in 1908, during which time he also attended evening art classes. In 1914 he married the watercolour artist, Mary Holden Caldwell. He reached the rank of Lieutenant in World War One but sustained serious back injuries at Gallipoli in 1915 and was subsequently invalided out of the British Army. Unable to walk for three years, he continued his art classes while recuperating and began contributing cartoons to Punch, Tatler and other British journals, magazines and books. As the signature Bird was already being used by another artist, his sharp wit resulted in his adoption of the name Fougasse, a type of unpredictable mine “that might or might not hit the mark.”
Fougasse’s popularity grew during the 1920s and 1930s. His distinctive style earned him commissions to design posters for the London Underground and London Transport from 1925-1944 and, from 1937-1949, he was the Art Editor of Punch. During World War Two, he volunteered his time to the Ministry of Information to produce propaganda posters, believing that humour could effectively deliver their messages to the public. For his unpaid artistic contributions to the government and charities, he was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1946. He taught Sunday School at Sloane Square Church during the 1950s and continued to work as an illustrator until his retirement in 1953. Fougasse – Cyril Kenneth Bird – died in London in 1965, aged 77.
Here are a few of our original vintage posters by Fougasse (click on the images for more information and visit our website at www.AntikBar.co.uk to browse our current stock):
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