Folon, Jean-Michel

Jean-Michel Folon was born on March 1, 1934 in Uccle and died on October 20, 2005 in Monaco, at the age of 71. A versatile Belgian artist, he excelled in watercolor, painting, engraving and sculpture, exploring a multitude of artistic media such as tapestry, stamp design and theater sets. Folon leaves behind a rich and varied body of work, marked by his creativity and multi-faceted talent.

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During the 1954-1955 academic year, Jean-Michel Folon briefly studied industrial aesthetics at the École nationale des Arts visuels de La Cambre in Brussels, but failed to complete his exams. Encouraged by his teachers and his uncle Étienne Samson, he left Belgium for Paris in 1955, settling in a gardener's cottage in Bougival. In Paris, he made a name for himself in the field of illustration, developing several styles influenced in particular by Saul Steinberg, characterized by generous watercolor gradations and the use of characters with deliberately simplified outlines. His works capture the wanderlust and lost expression of characters, evolving in vast, bare landscapes or mysterious, sometimes oppressive urban environments, reflecting the preoccupations of post-May 68 Western society. Alongside his artistic career, Folon also tried his hand at cinema, playing roles in films such as Michel Polac's La Chute d'un corps, Maurice Dugowson's Lily aime-moi and F comme Fairbanks. In 1981, he played the lead role alongside Marlène Jobert in L'Amour nu, directed by Yannick Bellon. A career highlight came in June 1983, when he created the first logo for Apple, "Mr. Macintosh", for Steve Jobs' company. However, the design was eventually replaced at the last minute by Tom Hughes, missing out on a major financial opportunity, with an initial contract stipulating $1 per computer sold, even though the company would sell 30 million units over 15 years.