This week Design Toscano lost a trusted business partner, a creative artist, and most of all a good friend with the passing of artist Frederic Levesque. Frederic holds a special place in Toscano lore: He was the first living artist Design Toscano partnered with to create unique statues. His “Winston” and “Feast on Fools” gargoyle statues helped garner attention for Toscano, leading to a mention in Time magazine.
Known for his imaginative, Gothic fairy tale sculptures, Frederic first exhibited at the Grand Palais in 1987. A graduate of the highly regarded École Des Beaux-Arts in Paris, whose esteemed graduates include Degas, Delacroix, Fragonard, Ingres, Monet, Moreau, Renoir, Seurat, and Sisley, Levesque went on to become famous worldwide for his work as an illustrator and avant-garde sculptor.
Toscano Creative Director Steve Pseno remembers:
“In the early days of Toscano, I heard stories of this crazy artist from France, but when I met Frederic in Paris, that wasn’t the man who was standing in front of me. You could see the sparkle in his eyes and feel the creative connection as we spoke about projects that would be of interest to our customers.
“He invited me to his apartment in the French quarter and I walked into the apartment he called his studio. It looked as if a bomb had gone off, a creative atom bomb, with small clay and plaster sculptural concepts scattered everywhere, accented by at least twenty-five, filled-to-the-rim ash trays! That night, as we sat at his kitchen table, he sketched a chubby man in a rowboat, with fingers and toes plugging holes in the boat, on the back of a croissant bag next to his ever-present ash tray neatly stacked with butts. I wish I had that drawing today; he was just filled with so much creative energy.
“Frederic was one of the most creative people I have ever met and also one of the nicest characters I have had the pleasure to come in contact with. He was truly a gentle soul and I will miss him.”
Levesque’s work showed his love for his native region of Normandy, but he also brought in worldwide themes, making his work universal. He brought in themes from all over art history -- from the Middle Ages and 18th-century French fairy tales to French film spoofs. He also created parodies of various works of motion picture art, including Georges Méliés’ A trip to the Moon (1902) and W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922). Frederic contributed more than 50 truly unique works of art to Design Toscano. From a submarine engulfed by a giant squid and an actual smoke-breathing dragon called Bessemer to an alligator lunching on his caretaker. His designs were done in a style that was truly Frederic: proportionally exaggerated and comically robust. He was truly one of a kind and Toscano will miss his creative genius.
He will be buried in the Village of L’Hôme-Chamondot not far from his beloved home in Normandy.