Jan de Swart was one of the leaders in the Mid Century Modern movement in Art, Design and “Modern Living” that took place in Los Angeles.

In an article by Elizabeth A. T. Smith, titled “Arts & Architecture & the Los Angeles Vanguard,” she stated,  “In Abstract and Surrealist in America, an important chronicle of contemporary art activity published in New York in 1944, Sidney Janis noted the creative community around Art & Architecture, as well as one particular reason for both its cohesiveness and its cosmopolitan view:  A group of the highest integrity has formed around John Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture in Los Angeles, Charles Eames, Architect and designer; Herbert Matter, photographer; Ray Eames, [Harry] Bertoia, and Mercedes Carles, artists; and others have pooled their talents and efforts in a co-operative venture…”

 She goes on to say, “The new Arts and Architecture provided rich visual arts coverage, both local and national, with a decided orientation toward modernist abstraction.  Photography by Herbert Matter, and prints, sculpture, and jewelry, and later furniture by Harry Bertoia appeared frequently in the magazine, as did illustrations or articles about the work of other modern artists.  Among those Californians treated most consistently over time in its pages were Peter Krasnow, Knud Merrild, Claire Falkenstein, Tony Rosenthal, Jan de Swart, Ruth Asawa, Ynez Johnston, and June Wayne.  These artists’ generally nonobjective vision, their use of biomorphic or geometric forms, and their affinity to (or actual use of) technological processes represent a cohesive link to the modern architecture embraced in the magazine.  Falkenstein, Asawa, and de Swart each incorporated industrial materials -X- ray film, metal wire, and plastic or aluminum respectively – into their paintings and sculptures, experimenting with the potential of these materials to amplify the language of nonobjective form.  Through the use of these techniques they sought an essential simplicity of expression and communication as well as a profound engagement with contemporary processes.” (Blueprints for Modern Living: History & Legacy of the Case Study Houses, 1989, p. 145-149).

 

Jan de Swart’s covers were some of the most popular covers of Arts & Architecture:


Jan de Swart

“One is constantly and unendingly amazed at the sense of expanding growth inherent in the broad, rich talents of Jan de Swart. His ideas seem always to create their own methodology and to proliferate into and out of one another in startling profusion.Continuity is always apparent in a developing dialogue of common denominators that give logical meaning to one another, that through a sequence of events build to a concept of the whole, becoming explicitly revealed in his work. Here is taste and judgment, and a unique recognition of that rare moment when a work is at its peak; at its own very best; a deep recognition of that exquisite moment when the material and the idea and the purpose become precisely one.This is not a man who makes arbitrary choices. Each project is surely understood, its nature and its own very special objectives fully comprehended. Only then is it given its own freedom to achieve an ultimate destination. De Swart works through a highly disciplined skill and a deep intuition that involves the most secret components of the materials that come to hand.By nature a scientist, a craftsman and an artist, his work is not only the concept of the inner eye, but of a superbly quickened awareness in a world of discovery.”John D. Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture and director of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts

Comments are closed.