1934 - 1969

1934: Jean-Michel Folon is born in Uccle, near Brussels, on March 1st.

1955: He abandons his architecture studies and leaves Brussels to devote himself to drawing. He sets off for Paris, and finds himself in a gardener»s shed at Bougival. For 5 years, he draws every day.

1960: He shows his first drawings around him. In France, nobody is interested. He sends them to New York, to various magazines. Horizon, Esquire and The New Yorker publish them, without having met him. He sets off to discover the United States.

1964: His drawings are presented at Jean-Jacques Pauvert»s bookshop Le Palimugre in Paris.

1967: Fortune and Atlantic Monthly continue to publish his drawings in the United States.

Time publishes 4 covers over subsequent years.

He travels repeatedly to Italy, meeting writer Giorgio Soavi, for whom he draws his first book, Le message. Together, they dream up a number of projects for the company Olivetti, for which he illustrates books by Franz Kafka and Ray Bradbury.

1968: He designs a mural for the French pavilion at the Milan Triennale, decked with 500 points of light. He exhibits 60 works at the Galerie de France in Paris and creates a yearbook for the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

1969: First exhibition in New York, at the Lefebre Gallery.

The Seventies

1970: Visits Japan, and exhibits in Tokyo and Osaka. He takes part in the 35th Venice Biennale, in the Belgian pavilion.

First exhibition in Italy, at the Galleria del Milione in Milan, in October.

1971: He stages a major exhibition at the Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris, with 90 works, which will later be presented at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Charleroi, the Musée d»art moderne in Brussels and the Castello Sforezesco in Milan.

1972: Exhibits at the Art club in Chicago.

1973: Illustrates Metamorphosis by Kafka. Alice Editions publishes a collection of watercolours, La mort d»un arbre, for which he also writes the text. Max Ernst prefaces the book with an original lithograph. He is among the selection of Belgian artists at the 12th Bienal in Sao Paulo, which awards him its Grand Prix.

1974: Produces ten etchings and aquatints for Les Ruines circulaires by Jorge Luis Borges. Exhibits in Milan, at the Studio Marconi. For the new Brussels metro, he produces Magic City, a painting measuring 165 m².

1975: Undertakes a second mural, Paysage, for Olivetti, at Waterloo Station in London. His correspondence in pictures with Giorgio Soavi is the subject of a book, Lettres à Giorgio, published by Alice Editions.

1976: Exhibits at the Musée Boymans-van-Beuningen in Rotterdam, then at the Deutsches Plakatmuseum in Essen. Produces colour covers for various magazines, including Times, which will publish four of them over the years.

1977: Exhibits at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London and in Spoleto as part of the 20th festival, for which he designs the poster.

1978: Illustrates Alcools and Calligrammes, by Guillaume Apollinaire.

1979: Illustrates Ray Bradbury»s Martian Chronicles and the complete works of Jacques Prévert in 7 volumes. Exhibition of watercolours at the Berggruen gallery in Paris.


La métamorphose, 1973

The Eighties

1980: In a series of 12 watercolours and collages, he illustrates L»Automne à Pékin, by Boris Vian, and in a set of etchings and aquatints, L»inutile beauté, by Guy de Maupassant.

1981: At the request of Michel Soutter, he designs the sets for works by Frank Martin and Giacomo Puccini staged at the Grand Théâtre in Geneva. He produces the projected images for The Soldier»s Tale, by Igor Stravinsky, at the Théâtre de la vie in Brussels.

1980: In a series of 12 watercolours and collages, he illustrates L»Automne à Pékin, by Boris Vian, and in a set of etchings and aquatints, L»inutile beauté, by Guy de Maupassant.

1981: At the request of Michel Soutter, he designs the sets for works by Frank Martin and Giacomo Puccini staged at the Grand Théâtre in Geneva. He produces the projected images for The Soldier»s Tale, by Igor Stravinsky, at the Théâtre de la vie in Brussels.

1984: Retrospective of his posters at La Défense in Paris. He makes the illustrations for the poetic works of Guillaume Apollinaire and engraves a series of etchings and aquatints for Pluies de New-York by Albert Camus. Exhibition at the Picasso Museum in Antibes.

1985: He travels to Japan for a retrospective to be presented in Tokyo, Osaka and Kamakura. Close to the Porte d»Italie in Paris, he paints a mural 14 storeys high. In November, presentation of his work at the Correr Museum in Venice.

1986: He engraves the album Lointains, comprising 6 etchings and aquatints on the theme of voyages, for Blue Shadow in Paris. He starts sculpting objects in wood.

1987: For the reopening of the Teatro Olimpico built by Palladio, he designs the poster and gives the Vicenza Museum a series of 100 posters. He visits Buenos Aires in Argentina, exhibiting there with his friend Milton Glaser at the Museo de Bellas Artes. They are invited to the university, where they speak to 4000 students. He visits the Iguaçu Falls on the border with Paraguay and Brazil, a magical place which he draws. Another exhibition is staged by the Musée Botanique in Brussels.

1988: He engraves a series of etchings and aquatints, A propos de la Création, on the theme of Genesis. He creates the logo for the Bicentenary of the French Revolution.

For Amnesty International, he illustrates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, published in the 6 official UN languages, prefaced by Javier Pérez de Cuéllar.

He continues to create objects in wood, started in 1986, which he transforms and paints in oil.

1989: He works on sets for the Teatro Goldoni in Venice and the Teatro Argentina in Rome for a play by Carlo Goldini, produced by Maurizio Scaparro. In Aubusson he produces a tapestry measuring 80 m² for the Palais des Congrès in Monaco. His posters are exhibited at the Poster Museum in Lahti, Finland, and the Musée de l»Affiche in Toulouse.


Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française, 1988

The Nineties

1990: An exhibition of watercolours and engravings is organised at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which also shows his first transformed objects. The Marino Marini museum in Florence then shows an exhibition of his watercolours, engravings and posters. Large sculptures in wood, hewn from reclaimed beams.

He begins building boats with all sorts of different materials.

1991: Under the title Notre Terre, an exhibition brings together a series of engravings and posters evoking the protection of the environment. It is presented in numerous small towns in France.

On that same theme of the protection of nature, he starts an exciting collaboration with Alberto Meomartini for the company Snam in Italy. Together, they make a series of creations ranging from animated films to posters in very large dimensions, for example one measuring 500 m² in front of St Peter»s Square in Rome. These posters cover the walls of towns in Italy for several years. He sculpts people in clay and plaster and also produces his first bronze pieces.

1992: He continues with the objects and the sculptures, illustrating The invisible man by H. G. Wells with a series of watercolours, exhibited subsequently at the Galleria Nuages in Milan. In Chartres, he creates the stained glass windows for a chapel at Mont-Agel in the south of France.

1993: He concentrates on the sculptures which are presented for the first time at La Pedrera, a building by Gaudí in Barcelona, in an exhibition staged by La Caixa de Catalunya.

1994: Exhibition of watercolours and sculptures at the Marisa Del Rey Gallery in New York.

1995: Retrospective in Shizooka, at the Bunkamura Museum in Tokyo and in Kyoto in Japan. He illustrates a dozen of La Fontaine»s Fables for Nuages Edizioni in Milan.

1996: Retrospective at the Musée Olympique in Lausanne. An exhibition of 80 watercolours from his own collection at the Museo Morandi in Bologna. Donation of his photographs from the atelier Morandi to the same museum. In accordance with the tradition of the city of Bologna, a 12-metre-high fabric sculpture, constructed to his design, is burned on the night of 31 December on the Piazza Maggiore.

1997: Exhibition at the casino in Knokke-Le-Zoute in Belgium. In the same place, he also installs a bronze sculpture in front of the sea, which is covered by the waves at every tide, entitled La mer, ce grand sculpteur. Production of the stained glass windows for the 12th-century church in Burcy in France, a village of which he is very fond because he has lived there for a long time. Creation of the sculpture Le Messager, in memory of the murdered children, installed in the Parc Royal in Brussels.

1998: He creates enormous murals in Milan and Rome. At Pietrasanta in Italy, he finishes several marble sculptures 6 metres high.

The stained glass windows for the chapel in Pisa are completed and installed.

1999: Exhibition at Elzenveld in Antwerp. He paints the flag for the Palio in Siena.

Voler, a bronze sculpture 3 metres high, is installed at Brussels airport.

The set of his sculptures is placed on the Piazza Del Duomo, and in the church of Sant»Agostino de Pietrasenta in Italy. Exhibition at the Galleria Il Chiostro in Sarono and at the Galleria André in Rome.

On the night of 31 December, in Pietrasanta, 2000 candles are lit, which are placed on terracotta hands which he has sculpted, in memory of the past 2000 years. Folon calls this evening «the time of a prayer».


«La mer, ce grand sculpteur», 1997

2000 until today

2000: Exhibition of watercolours and sculptures at the Galerie Guy Pieters in Saint Paul de Vence.

The artist creates the Folon Foundation, inaugurated on the 27th of October at the Solvay estate. This is one of Europe»s finest classified parks, located just outside Brussels, where he spent his childhood. This will now be the place to come and look at the works which he has preserved, «to see them brought together one day in the same place».

2001: Exhibition of sculptures and paintings at the Galerie Guy Pieters in Sint-Martens-Lathem in Belgium.

An exhibition of his works, including tapestries woven in Aubusson, is shown at the château de Sédières in France.

His great sculpture La ville en marche is installed in Brussels.

In the grounds of Saint Georges Castle, the City of Lisbon organises the exhibition of his great sculptures in bronze and marble. He creates a bronze sculpture in memory of the great poet Fernando Pessoa, installed in a square in Lisbon. A series of drawings is installed in the bedroom of the house where the poet was born.

2002: He starts creating ceramics. Exhibition of his recent watercolours at the Galerie Guy Pieters in Saint Paul de Vence.

He creates a hot-air balloon produced in Belgium and baptised on 9 June at the Solvay estate at La Hulpe, on the occasion of the «Air Show» organised by the Ministry of the Environment of the Walloon Region.

2003: He is appointed a Unicef ambassador. The President of the French Republic decorates him with the Ordre de la Légion d»Honneur, at the Elysée Palace.

He creates the sets and costumes for La Bohème at the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago in Italy.

He presents his recent sculptures at the Galerie Guy Pieters in Knokke-Le-Zoute. He makes the stained glass windows for the 11th-century church at Durbuy in Belgium. The mayor of Saint Paul de Vence entrusts him with the old chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, for which he starts the creation of paintings, sculptures and stained glass windows. He exhibits his works at the Palazzo Ducale in Lucca, close to where he is working on four large marble sculptures, at Pietrasanta.

2004: The Folon Foundation is expanding. It is once again open in March. Its metamorphosis affirms its evolution. It remains a place of life and creation.

2005 : Une rétrospective de son oeuvre Folon Firenze est organisée dans la ville de Florence: plus de 300 œuvres sont exposées à la Salle d'Armes du Palazzo Vecchio et à Forte di Belvedere.
Folon Chianti présente des expositions de céramiques dans trois communes du Chianti (Bagno a Ripoli - Greve - Impruneta).

Jean-Michel Folon décède à Monaco, le 20 octobre,
à l'âge de 71 ans.


Firenze, 2005

 

©Fondation Folon