Jan Balet

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Jan Balet (20 July 1913 in Bremen – 31 January 2009 in Estavayer le Lac, Switzerland), was a German/US-American painter, graphic artist and illustrator. Affected by the style naive art he worked particularly as a graphic artist and as an Illustrator of children's books. Besides this he painted pictures in the style of naive art. Referred to as a “naïve” painter, his works exhibit a dry wit and refreshingly candid, satirical view of life.

Life[edit]

Childhood[edit]

Balet was son of German/Dutch parents. 1916 after the divorce of his parents he and his mother moved to live with his mother's parents Langenargen at Lake Constance in Germany. His grandfather was the senior judicial counsellor in the areaEduard Eggert and his uncle was the famous painter and illustrator Benno Eggert. Many well-known personalities of the time were friends of his grandfather, i.e. the painters Hans Purrmann, Karl Caspar, Maria Caspar-Filser (cousin of his mother), the writer Martin Andersen Nexo, the Swabian poet Wilhelm Schussen as well as the poet and writer Oskar Wöhrle, Balets godfather. 1920 his grandfather sold the house in Langenargen and the family moved to Friedrichshafen at Lake Constance.

School time[edit]

1920 Balet started school. Because his mother and his grandmother had difficulties bringing him up after the death of his grandfather in 1926 Balet was sent to boarding school in GermanySchule Schloss Salem. In 1927 Balet moved to the Hansa Home, a strictly catholic institution in Munich and attended grammar school. In order to take up an apprenticeship with a painter shop Balet left school before finishing sixth class. He cut the apprenticeship short, leaving before the end of the second year.

Studies[edit]

in 1929, at the age of 17, he moved to Berlin at the invitation of his father and studied Drawing at the college of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule Ost am Schlesischen Bahnhof). A year later, he went to live with his mother and his grandmother, in Munich. Balet transferred his studies to the Munich College of Arts but was dismissed in 1932. He went on to study with Professor Ege, at a private school for commercial art. During this time he also worked at an institute for lithography and for the art gallery Wallach. Balet rented his first small studio at the age of nineteen, where he manufactured and sold hand colored Bavarian woodcuts. 1934 he passed the entrance examination to the Akademie der Bildenden Künste München and undertook further studies with Olaf Gulbransson.

Emigration to the USA[edit]

In early 1938 Balet was recruited by the German military and because his ancestor's passport was not complete, he was forbidden to associate further with the Akademie der Bildenden Künste München. Later that year Balet emigrated to the USA, settled in New York and painted rustic furniture for a living. One winter he jobbed as a skiing teacher in Vermont and occasionally jobbed as an advertising commercial artist. Among other projects, he painted the cafeteria of the largest of New York's department stores R.H. Macy. He married a young woman named Bertha Quinn and in 1940 his son Peter was born. From time to time Balet's designs appeared in the fashion magazine Mademoiselle and in 1943 he became Art Director at the magazine. Balet became so successful as a commercial artist that he was able to give up paid employment and start his own business. He worked for the radio station CBS, magazines such as Vogue, House and Garden, House Beautiful, The Saturday Evening Post, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, This week. After the war ended in 1945 he acquired U.S. citizenship. In 1945 Balet and his wife divorced and Peter and his mother went to live with her parents in Ballston Spa, NY. Balet commuted between his studio in New York and an old, boat house in the dunes of Montauk, Long Island, which he had converted to a studio where he painted and drew. His first children's book Amos and the Moon was published in 1948. Soon after he travelled to Europe to visit his mother and his grandmother in Munich and then spent two months in Paris, which provided great inspiration for his future work. His grandmother died in 1949 at the age of 93 years and Balet said she had been "the most important and dearest person" in his life. Around this time Balet began a relationship with American photo model Lisa Tallal, whom he married a few years later. Balet sold his boat house and purchased his dream house, also on Long Island. Balet and his wife enjoyed an expensive lifestyle which required him to focus on commercial art. During travels to Europe and Mexico Balet took many photographs, since there was insufficient time for drawing. Despite what was regarded in the USA as fashionable art Abstract, Op-art and Popart Balet continued to paint in his own style. His mother died in 1963 and he inherited the house in Munich. As a former pupil of Olaf Gulbransson, Balet was invited, in 1964, to present an exhibition in the Pavillon Alter Botanischer Garten Munich. Many of his children's books and illustrations were included in the exhibition as well as a variety of his commercial artwork. This encouraged Balet to keep on painting in his special style.

Return to Europe[edit]

1965 Balet and his wife Lisa divorced and he returned to Munich where he started to illustrate children's books again, to paint his impressions of his various journeys and to hold exhibitions of his work. In 1973 he settled in the countryside with Claudia (Gerda) C. Foth, in La Landelle in France. Balet enjoyed increasing success with painting and stopped working as a commercial artist. In 1976 Balet received an order from an art dealer to make a number of lithographs annually in Switzerland. Circle Fine Art arranged several exhibitions of these in many different countries. Baletand his wife, Claudia, moved to Estavayer le Lac on Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland in 1978 so he would not have to travel so far to Zurch to work on his lithographs. Coincidentally his father's family originally came from this area where Balet is a common family name.

Art work[edit]

Own publications (Children books and sketch books)[edit]

  • 1948 Amos and the moon, Henry Z. Walck Verlag New York
  • 1949 Ned, Ed and the lion
  • 1951 What makes an orchestra
  • 1959 The five Rollatinis, J. B. Lippincott Co. Verlag New York
  • 1965 Joanjo, Pharos Verlag Basel
  • 1966 Das Geschenk Eine portugiesische Weihnachtsgeschichte, Betz-Verlag München
  • 1967 Der König und der Besenbinder, Betz-Verlag München
  • 1969 Der Zaun, Otto Maier Verlag München
  • 1969 Ladismaus, Betz-Verlag München
  • 1979 Ein Skizzenbuch, Windecker Winkelpresse
  • 1980 Katzen-Skizzen, Windecker Winkelpresse
  • 1981 Skizzen-Paare, Windecker Winkelpresse
  • 1981 Die Leihkatze oder Wie man Katzen lieben lernt, Windecker Winkelpresse (Author: Otto Schönberger)
  • 1982 Paris-Skizzen, Windecker Winkelpresse
  • 1984 Hellas-Skizzen, Windecker Winkelpresse
  • 1993 Wasser-Skizzen, Edition Toni Pongratz
  • 1994 Die Zeppeline des Jan Balet, Zeppelin-Museum Friedrichshafen (Taschenbuch)
  • 2008 Angekommen: Gedichte (Author: Hans Skupy)

Publicationen, which Jan Balet illustrated[edit]

  • 1945 Alarcon, P.A.: Tales from the Spanish, Allentown
  • 1948 Hanle-Zack, D.: The golden ladle, Chicago-New York
  • 1952 Wing, H.: Rosalinda, Chicago
  • 1953 Wing, H.: The lazy lion, Chicago
  • 1954 Jones, P.: Rumpelstiltskin, Chicago
  • 1955 Jones, P.: Columbine, Chicago
  • 1956 Jones, P.: Fair, brown and trembling, Chicago
  • 1957 Bean blossom hill, Chicago
  • 1958 King, M.B.: The birthday angel, Chicago
  • 1959 King, M.B.: Papa Pompino, Chicago
  • 1960 King, M.B.: The snow queen, Chicago
  • 1960 Doyle, L.: Turkey and ham, New York
  • 1962 Andersen, H.C.: The princess on the pea and other famous stories, New York
  • 1963 Dickens, Ch.: The magic fishbone and other famous stories, New York
  • 1963 Selden, G.: Mice, monks and the Christmas tree, New York
  • 1964 Rossetti, C.: Adding a poem, New York
  • 1967 Just one me, Chicago
  • 1968 Krüss, J.: Ein- Eich & Mondhorn, München
  • 1986 Schönberger, O.: Die Leihkatze oder wie man Katzen lieben lernt, Frankfurt

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 1947 Gold Medal, Art Directors Club of New York
  • 1948 Best of Industry, Direct Mail Award
  • 1948 Gold Medal, Art Directors Club of New York
  • 1948 Merit Award, Art Institute of Chicago
  • 1949 Merit Award, Art Institute of Chicago
  • 1950 Merit Award, Art Institute of Chicago
  • 1952 Award, Book Clinic, Chicago
  • 1954 Merit Award, Art Directors Club of Chicago
  • 1954 Award for Merit, Art Directors Club of New York
  • 1954 Certificate of Excellence, American Institute of Graphic Arts, New York
  • 1956 Award, Book Clinic, Chicago
  • 1956 Gold Medal, Art Directors Club of New York
  • 1956 Gold Medal, Art Directors Club of Detroit
  • 1956 Silver Medal, Art Directors Club of Detroit
  • 1957 Certificate of Excellence, Society of Typographic Arts, Chicago
  • 1957 Certificate of Merit, Art Directors Club of New York
  • 1958 Certificate of Excellence, Society of Typographic Arts, Chicago
  • 1959 Certificate of Excellence, Society of Typographic Arts, Chicago
  • 1959 Citation for Merit, Society of Illustrators, New York
  • 1960 Citation for Merit, Society of Illustrators, New York
  • 1960 Award, Book Clinic, Chicago
  • 1962 Citation for Merit, Society of Illustrators, New York
  • 1965 Grammy Awards of 1965, Best Album Cover - Classical, Robert M. Jones (art director) & Jan Balet (graphic artist) for Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals/Britten: Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra conducted by Arthur Fiedler
  • 1980 Prix d'honneur, Concours International de la Peinture Naive, Morges/Suisse
  • 1981 Prix d'argent, Concours International de la Peinture Naive, Morges/Suisse

Exhibitions[edit]

  • 1964 München, Pavillon Alter Botanischer Garten
  • 1966 München, Pavillon Alter Botanischer Garten
  • 1967 Berlin, Kunstamt Tiergarten
  • 1968 Waiblingen, Rathaus
  • 1969 Düsseldorf, Galerie Vömel
  • 1971 Hamburg, Atelier Mensch
  • 1972 Bremen, Paule-Modersohn-Becker-Haus
  • 1972 Berlin, Galerie Niebuhr
  • 1972 München, Pavillon Alter Botanischer Garten
  • 1972 Düsseldorf, Galerie Vömel
  • 1973 Hamburg Atelier Mensch
  • 1974 Zürich Galerie Niggli
  • 1975 Düsseldorf, Galerie Vömel
  • 1976 Hamburg, Atelier Mensch
  • 1976 Paris, FIAC
  • 1977 Washington, ART Washington
  • 1977 New York, Studio 53
  • 1977 Basel, ART 77
  • 1977 Bologna, Arte Fiera 77
  • 1977 Knokke, Jacobean Gallery
  • 1977 München, Galerie Schöninger
  • 1977 San Francisco, Cory Gallery
  • 1977 Marblehead, Quadrum Gallery
  • 1977 Königstein, Galerie Spranger
  • 1977 Köln, Galerie Orange
  • 1978 Amsterdam, Galerie Spranger
  • 1978 Washington, ART Washington
  • 1978 Basel, ART 78
  • 1978 Klosters, Galerie 63
  • 1978 Los Angeles, Upstairs Gallery
  • 1978 Long Beach, Upstairs Gallery
  • 1978 Northridge, Upstairs Gallery
  • 1978 Beverly Hills, Upstairs Gallery
  • 1978 Orange County, Upstairs Gallery
  • 1978 San Francisco, Cory Gallery
  • 1978 Siegburg, Galerie Theisen
  • 1978 Düsseldorf, Internationaler Kunstmarkst
  • 1979 Vervier/Belgien, Galerie Keuninckx
  • 1979 Berlin, Galerie Wölffer
  • 1979 Basel, ART 78
  • 1979 München, Galerie Charlotte
  • 1979 Düsseldorf, Galerie Vömel
  • 1980 Hamburg, Atelier Mensch
  • 1980 Morges, Galeris Pro Arte
  • 1980 Ascona, Galleria Associazione Artisti
  • 1980 Amsterdam, Galerie Hamer
  • 1981 Oisterwijk, Galerie de Granzerik
  • 1981 Cartigny-Genève, Galerie L'Escapade
  • 1982 Caracas, Galeria Contini
  • 1982 Basel, Art 82
  • 1982 Düsseldorf, Galerie Vömel
  • 1983 Hamburg, Atelier Mensch
  • 1983 Caracas, Galeria Contini
  • 1983 Lima, Galeria Trapezio
  • 1983 Langenargen, Museum
  • 1984 München, Stadtmuseum
  • 1985 New York, Circle Gallery
  • 1986 New York, Jack Gallery
  • 1987 Brüssel, International Centre of Naive Art
  • 1988-1991 Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles
  • 1992 Tokio, Galerie Naif Tanaka
  • 1994 Friedrichshafen, Zeppelinmuseum
  • 1996 Nonnenhorn am Bodensee, Galerie Probst
  • 1997 Asbach Kreis Passau, Museum Kloster Asbach
  • 1998 Zürich, Galerie Zum Grauen Wind
  • 1998 Bern, Galerie Christine Brügger
  • 1999 Zürich, Galerie Wolfsberg
  • 1999 Rheinfelden, Haus Salmegg
  • 2001 Zug, Altstadthaus
  • 2002 München, Galerie Hell
  • 2003 Böblingen, Fleischermuseum
  • 2004 München, Galerie Hell
  • 2007 Blankenburg, Switzerland, Galerie Hüsy
  • 2007 Gstaad, Switzerland,Hotel Gstaaderhof
  • 2008 Worb, Atelier Worb
  • 2008 Bad Saulgau, Galerie "Die Fähre"

Balet’s works are in permanent museum collections in Europe, including the Städt Museum in Munich, the Regierungspräsidium in Tübingen, the Kunsthalle in Bremen, the Langenargen Museum at lake Constance, the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich and the Fleischer Museum in Böblingen, Germany.

Literature[edit]

  • R. Zuck, Naive Malerei, M./W. 1974
  • Jan Balet, Gemälde – Zeichnungen – Graphik – Museum Langenargen am Bodensee, 1983
  • Nebojsa Tomasevic, World Encyclopaedia of Naive Art, Frederick Muller Ltd, 1984
  • O. Bihalji-Merin, Die Naiven der Welt, Eltville 1986
  • Die Zeppeline des Jan Balet. Katalog der Ausstellung im Zeppelin-Museum Friedrichshafen 8. Juni 1994 - 31. Juli 1994.
  • Marcus, Leonard S.: 75 Years of Children's Book Week Posters: Celebrating Great Illustrators of American Children's Books, New York 1994
  • Klaus Doderer, Lexikon der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur, Beltz, 1995

See also[edit]

External links[edit]