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Jean-Michel Folon

Watercolourist, painter, sculptor

(Uccle, Belgique, 1934 -Monaco, 2005)

In 1975, French viewers discovered on Antenne 2 the flight in a watercolor sky of a man with long arms, dressed in an overcoat and wearing a hat. These credits closed the daily programs of the channel, and it is on this occasion that a large audience got to know one of the innumerable creatures of Jean-Michel Folon. 

Born in Uccle, near Brussels, in 1934, Folon began by studying architecture. Then he left Belgium for Bougival, in the Paris region, and took a passion for drawing, which he practiced assiduously every day. In Paris, he did not receive any encouragement at first. But several magazines, including the New Yorker, having agreed to publish his drawings, he left for the United States in 1960. 

His first major exhibition was at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1971, followed by the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Charleroi and the Musée d'Art Moderne in Brussels.

A book lover, Folon also illustrates works as different as Kafka's Metamorphosis, Bradbury's Martian Chronicles or Prévert's complete work, in seven volumes... 

His territories of intervention multiply, - as on the walls of the Brussels subway or on those of the Waterloo station in London - until the very small, with the postage stamp. He even imagined, in 1989, the emblem of the international philatelic exhibition in Paris. The same year, his icon "with birds" became the symbol of the commemoration of the French Revolution on many stamps and commemorative objects around the world.

Folon's militant commitment to the defense of fundamental rights led him to a related theme, when he illustrated the campaigns of Amnesty International.  Sensitive to the problems of the environment, he participates in his own way to the ecological struggles, by a set of engravings and posters entitled Our Earth, and intended to alert the opinion on the safeguard of the planet. 

Mixing the poetic vein with a sensitivity for the natural elements, Folon installed in 1997 a bronze sculpture in front of the sea, in Knokke-Le Zoute, in his native country. The work emerges and immerses itself in the rhythm of the ebb and flow of the tides: he calls it The Sea, this great sculptor.

At the end of his life, Folon still resorted to other modes of expression. From sculpture, he moved on to tapestry cartoons and stained glass windows - or his taste for the stage led him to opera, and in 2004 he designed the sets for Puccini's La Bohème, for its open-air performance.

On October 27, 2000, the artist inaugurated a foundation bearing his name in the park of the Solvay estate, at the castle of La Hulpe, in Walloon Brabant. The following year, his large sculpture La Ville en marche was installed in Brussels. Two years later, he died in 2005 in Monaco at the age of seventy-one.


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