Jean Michel Folon
* 1934 Uccle (Brüssel)
† 2005 Monaco
The Belgian graphic artist, painter and sculptor attained international fame with his simplified and surrealistic image worlds.
Jean-Michel Folon was born in Uccle in 1934. He studied architecture in Brussels, however, Jean-Michel Folon dropped out of university in 1955. Jean-Michel Folon left Belgium and went to France, where he soon settled in Paris.
Jean-Michel Folon began working as an artist without any special training, he taught himself drawing, but later also watercolor and graphic techniques. Works by Jean-Michel Folon were released in many international press publications in the 1960s and 1970s, for instance in the magazines "The New-Yorker", "Time", "Paris-Match", "Le Monde" or "Punch". Jean-Michel Folon also showed great talent as book artist, additionally, he made illustrations for literary works, for example the twelve sheets for "La Métamorphose de Kafka" in 1973 or the graphic works for Albert Camus' "Pluies de New York" in 1984. The gifted graphic artist Jean-Michel Folon was also active as poster artist as of the late 1960. In the 1980s Jean-Michel Folon worked together with Enrico Baj and Pierre Alechinsky - "Folobajinsky" was the signet for the works the troika brought forth.
Jean-Michel Folon, who mentioned Paul Klee and Giorgio Morandi as main sources of inspiration, characterized the style of his paintings and graphic works with reduced forms and a subtle coloring. Figures in his works often appear enigmatic and surrealistic. James Ensor, René Magritte and Georges Simenon are often referred to as related artists, but also Julius Heinrich Bissier, Ben Shahn and Saul Steinberg.
However, graphic art and painting were not the only playing fields of Jean-Michel Folon. He also created mosaics, tapestries, wall decorations and window glass, for instance for the church in Burcy (1997). In addition, he made stage designs. As of 1986 Jean-Michel Folon began sculpting, especially wooden sculptures in colors. Later he also used gypsum, clay and bronze, creating works of an ever increasing monumentality.
Works by Jean-Michel Folon can be found in Antibes at the Museum Picasso. The Fondation Folon in La Hulpe near Brussels was founded in 2000 and shows more than 300 works. Jean-Michel Folon died in Monaco in 2005.