“All my sculptures look towards the sky, it’s a journey to the sky through sculpture”
Jean Michel Folon
Jean Michel Folon
In 1955 he abandoned his studies at the Ecole Supérieure de la Cambre in Brussels to move to Paris. He drew every day and travelled extensively throughout Europe. In 1960 the magazines “Horizon”, “Esquire” and “The New Yorker” published his drawings. At this point he left for the USA. In 1967 he took part in the Paris Biennial while his drawings appeared in “Time”, “Fortune”, “Graphics”, “Atlantic Monthly”, “Nouvel Observateur” and “L'Express”.
From 1974 to 1981 he produced numerous illustrations for works by Kafka, Bradbury, Borges, Apollinaire, Prevert, Vian and Maupassant, he designed the sets for grand operas by Frank Martin and Giacomo Puccini and began to dedicate his time to sculpture. In 1983 he designed cartoons, shot some short films in New York, Los Angeles and New Orleans and opened a new studio in Montecarlo. In 1988 he did the illustrations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Amnesty International. He created the Folon Foundation near Brussels.
Among his most memorable solo exhibitions are: Galerie de France, Paris 1968; Lefebre Gallery, New York 1969, 1972, 1978, 1980, 1982; Galleria Il Milione, Milan 1970; Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Charleroi, Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Castello Sforzesco, Milan (971-1972; Studio Marconi, Milan 1974; Museo Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam 1976; Institute of Contemporary Art, London 1977; Musée de la Poste, Paris 1982; Musée Ingres, Montauban 1982; Galerie Maeght, Paris 1982; La Défense, Paris 1983; Museo Picasso, Antibes 1984; Tokyo, Osaka, Kamakura 1985; Museo Correr, Venice 1985; Musée Botanique, Brussels 1987; Scuola Grande di San Giovanni, Venice 1988; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1990; Museo Marino Marini, Florence 1990; Parco del Château de Seneffe, Belgium 1990, 1996; La Pedrera, Barcelona 1993; Marisa Del Re Gallery, New York 1994; Media City, Shizuoka, Bunkamura, Museum Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan 1995; Musée Olimpique (202 pieces), Lausanne 1996; Museo Morandi, Bologna 1996; Casinò, Knotte-Le Zoute, Belgium 1997; Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon 2001; Forte Belvedere and Palazzo Vecchio, Florence 2005.
There have been numerous other exhibitions which included his work such as: the Triennial, Milan 1968; Tokyo and Osaka, Japan 1970; 34th Biennial, Venice 1970; Arts Club, Chicago 1972; Expo, Grand Palais, Paris 1972; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels 1975; Deutsches Plakatmuseum, Essen 1976; 20th Festival of Spoleto (he designed the poster, 1977); Musée d'Art Moderne, Liège 1978; Museo des Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires 1987; Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris 1988.
Among his most important public commissions were: "Magic City" 1974, a mural (165 m²) for the new underground, Brussels; "Paysage" 1975, a mural for Olivetti, in Waterloo Station, London; a mural (14 storeys high) 1985, Paris; a tapestry (80m²) 1989, Palais de Congrés, Monaco; large sculptures in Paris, Barcelona, Marseille, Montecarlo and Brussels 1991; a stained glass window for a chapel in Mont-Agel, France 1992; "Le Messager" 1997, Parc Royal Brussels; six stained glass windows for the church in Burcy and twelve stained glass windows for the Chapelle de Pise, Nîmes, France 1998. He was awarded the Certificate of Merit, Art Directors Club, New York in 1966; Grand Prix, XII Biennial in São Paulo in 1973; Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur, Elysée, Paris in 2002; title of UNICEF Ambassador in 2004.
In 1996 he created the first sculptures in marble in Pietrasanta, where he worked at the Laboratori Cervietti, Stefano Giannoni as well as at the Stagi mosaic studio. He took part in several exhibitions in the Apuan-Versilia area. The following were solo exhibitions: La Versiliana, Marina di Pietrasanta 1992; Galleria La Subbia, Pietrasanta 1998; Piazza del Duomo and Chirch of S. Agostino, Pietrasanta and "Le temps d'une prière" 1999; sets and costumes for "La Bohème" 2002, Festival Pucciniano, Torre del Lago; Palazzo Ducale, Lucca 2002; Villa Paolina, Viareggio 2004. In 2001 his sculpture entitled "L'oiseau" was erected on a roundabout at Viale Apua in Pietrasanta and in 2004 he won the prize Pietrasanta e la Versilia nel mondo.