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.
Jan Balet Widely acknowledged as a Master Painter with a knack for capturing a Happy Nostalgia in his numerous works, JAN BALET has been delighting Art Collectors for decades! His ubiquitous blue-eyed characters are instantly recognizable, dressed in their Old-Fashioned clothes and often painted as if they are posing for an antique “sepia-toned” picture one might find in Grandmother`s dusty trunk full of treasures up in the attic.
Jan Balet’s artwork was widely promoted in the 1980’s by Circle Fine Art Gallery. While in New York, he had a residence and studio in the city. In 1965, he moved back to Munich, then France. In 1978, he made his home in Estavayer-le-Lac, Switzerland, where he continued to paint and produce masterful lithographs which are fancied all around the world. He has also been cited in many publications and books, including American Artist, Vogue, Schöner Wohnen, Masters of Naïve Art and Die Naiven der Welt.Balet’s works are in permanent museum collections in Europe/ Referred to as a “naïve” painter, his works exhibit a dry wit and refreshingly candid, satirical view of life. Balet said he drew inspiration from both ancient Greek and ancient Egyptian art. We no longer accept prints by this artist but have clients for original paintings.
Emigration to the USA
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
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.