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The first exhibition of his watercolors was in New York in 1969 in the Lefebre Gallery. One year later he exhibited in Tokyo and in the Il Milione gallery in Milan. He also participated in the XXVth Venice Biennale. In 1973 he joined the selection of Belgian artists in the XXVth São Paulo Biennale, where he was granted the Grand Prize in Painting. Over the years his work concentrated on different techniques, including watercolor, etching, silkscreen, illustrations, mosaics, and stained glass, which showed the diversity of his art. His work Ein Baum stirbt - Un albero muore, 1974, is by Museo Cantonale d’Arte of Lugano. He also designed numerous posters, often for humanitarian causes. Around 1988 he created his first sculptures made out of wood. He then moved on to creating sculptures in clay, plaster, bronze and marble, while continuing to paint.
Folon published his drawings in newspapers, mostly in the USA, where he was recognized earlier than in Europe and illustrated books by Franz Kafka, Ray Bradbury, Jorge Luis Borges, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jacques Prévert, Boris Vian, Guy de Maupassant, Albert Camus, Herbert George Wells and Jean de la Fontaine. He never really changed his style, whose most famous emblem is the "bird-man" but used all kinds of supports; Folon made murals (Magic City for the Brussels subway, 1974; Waterloo Station for the London tube, 1975), posters for theater and opera (Spoleto Festival, 1978; Teatro Olimpicio, 1987) and cinema (The Purple Rose of Cairo, by Woody Allen, 1985), theater and opera scenery (Geneva and Brussels, 1981; Venice and Roma, 1989), short films for TV (opening and closing sections for the French channel Antenne 2, 1975–1984), wooden sculptures, logotypes (Bicentenary of the French Revolution, 1989; Philexfrance, 1989), tapestries (Congress Hall of Monaco, 1989), ships (1990), church windows (1992), sculptures (La mer, ce grand sculpteur, Knokke, 1997), and even a Palio flag (Sienna, 1999). His artistic value was recognized by several exhibitions organized in the most famous galleries and museums in the world (Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1971; Arts Club of Chicago, 1972; Boymans-van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, 1976; Musée d'Art Moderne de Liège, 1978; Musée Picasso, Antibes, 1984; Correr Museum, Venice, 1985; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1990; La Pedrera, Barcelona, 1993; Bunkamura Museum, Tokyo, 1995; Olympic Museum, Lausanne, 1996). He created a famous piece of television that was screened in France for almost 30 years. It was first made for the Italiques TV show, by Marc Gilbert, which aired from 1971 to 1974. The music, originally the soundtrack of Gott mit uns, was composed by Ennio Morricone.
In 2005, under the direction of Marilena Pasquali, Fabio Mochi organised the exhibition of Jean-Michel Folon in Florence which six years later gave rise to the creation of the permanent Folon exhibition in the Giardino delle Rose (Rose Garden) in Florence.
Another piece of television quite famous and remembered is a commercial about methane for SNAM. The soundtrack is Dolorosa by Michel Colombier.
Jean-Michel Folon died in Monaco on 20 October 2005, at the age of 71.