Jan de Swart

(1908-1987)
Lot 124
Jan de Swart
Untitled
Estimate: $2,000 - $3,000
Price Realized: $4,375
February 16, 2020
Lot 193
Jan de Swart
Group of sculptural boxes (4)
Estimate: $1,500 - $2,000
Price Realized: $1,600
June 26, 2011
Lot 269
Jan de Swart
Lucite sculpture
Estimate: $1,000 - $1,500
Price Realized: $1,320
June 29, 2008
Lot 271
Jan de Swart
Lucite cube
Estimate: $1,000 - $1,500
Price Realized: $960
June 29, 2008
Lot 375
Jan de Swart
Valet
Estimate: $3,000 - $4,000
Price Realized: $3,600
February 10, 2008
Lot 157
Jan de Swart
Sculpture
Estimate: $1,500 - $2,000
Price Realized: $1,200
October 14, 2007
Lot 158
Jan de Swart
Cactus sculpture
Estimate: $800 - $1,200
Price Realized: $1,020
October 14, 2007
Lot 65
Jan de Swart
Bench
Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000
Price Realized: $5,100
June 3, 2007
Lot 67
Jan de Swart
Sculpture
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Price Realized: $2,400
June 3, 2007
Lot 68
Jan de Swart
Sculpture
Estimate: $1,500 - $2,000
Price Realized: $1,200
June 3, 2007
Lot 166
Jan de Swart
Cast aluminum sculpture
Estimate: $1,500 - $2,000
Price Realized: $2,160
December 3, 2006
Lot 167
Jan de Swart
Untitled (totem)
Estimate: $1,500 - $2,000
Price Realized: $2,040
December 3, 2006
Lot 168
Jan de Swart
Untitled (totem)
Estimate: $1,500 - $2,000
Price Realized: $1,680
December 3, 2006
Lot 169
Jan de Swart
Untitled (totem)
Estimate: $1,500 - $2,000
Price Realized: $2,000
December 3, 2006
Lot 174
Jan de Swart
Eastern Tower sculpture
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Price Realized: $7,800
December 3, 2006
Lot 175
Jan de Swart
Cast aluminum sculpture
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Price Realized: $4,500
December 3, 2006
Lot 176
Jan de Swart
Confessional
Estimate: $8,000 - $12,000
Price Realized: $9,600
December 3, 2006
Lot 177
Jan de Swart
Acrylic sculpture with embedded colors
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Price Realized: $3,300
December 3, 2006

About The Artist

Born in the Netherlands in 1908, sculptor Jan de Swart began his practice at a young age by apprenticing to a liturgical carver. Through his training in traditional treatments of precious woods, de Swart gained a deep appreciation for the character and subtleties of his materials. In 1928, he immigrated to the United States and was one of the first artists to take up residence at the Park Moderne in Calabasas, California.

After pursuing colorful jobs such as gold prospecting and furniture making, de Swart found remarkable financial success designing commercial and industrial accessories. Despite his lack of technical training, de Swart had an intuitive understanding of engineering principles and could flawlessly eyeball the hefty calculations that burdened other inventors. With a knack for discovering new applications of plastic technologies, de Swart designed a wide spectrum of products, from attachments for warcraft machinery to pharmaceutical and cosmetic packaging. By the end of World War II, de Swart had registered over one hundred technical patents, many of which are still used today.

According to de Swart’s wife, Ursula, he "kind of [played] with" his new materials "along the way" and discovered aesthetically fascinating new forms in the process. Wartime demand for his inventions offered de Swart the necessary financial security to invest more time in his art and he thus began using new plastics to articulate his signature abstract forms. In 1944, the artist was featured in his first solo exhibition, and the following year his works were shown at the Pasadena Art Museum. His rise to prominence was fueled in part by his visibility in Arts & Architecture magazine and his close relationship to the magazine’s editor and publisher, John Entenza. De Swart swiftly became recognized within artistic circles as a technical virtuoso and a creative hero.

Praised by Entenza for his "quickened awareness in a world of discovery," de Swart cultivated a research-heavy practice that even led him to synthesize the "invisible world of molecular biology." His work explored the structural building blocks of living organisms, and, through his use of cutting-edge materials, his pieces replicated previously untapped sources of physical strength, malleability, and simplicity found in nature.

In addition to his passion for modern materials, de Swart maintained a fondness for the medium of his youth, wood. According to him, moving beyond the tedious hand-carving methods of his early education and instead adopting the bandsaw allowed him to quickly and easily "reveal [the] inner structure" of his wood and "indulge in a rich diversity" of its inherent design.

While de Swart’s works were conceptually dense and helped significantly advance the period’s language of design, they strayed from many other modernist trends within sculpture. Instead of assuming self-importance or preciousness, de Swart’s objects were intended to be integrated directly into their architectural settings, accommodating not only their environment but its inhabitants as well.

"Biography." Jan De Swart, The Jan De Swart Foundation , www.jandeswart.com/about-jan-deswart/jan-de-swart-bio/.

Folkart, Burt A. "Known for Works in Wood : L.A. Inventor, Sculptor Jan De Swart Dies at 79." Los Angeles Times, 25 Apr. 1987.

McGee, Mike. "First Interview with Jan De Swart." Laguna Art Museum, Internet Archive, 1985.

archive.org/details/calgbam_000027/calgbam_000027_a_access.mp3.

Meares, Hadley. "Park Moderne: LA's Lost Oz." Curbed LA, 15 Sept. 2016, la.curbed.com/2016/9/15/12922422/calabasas-park-moderne.

"The Pure Research of Jan de Swart." Craft Horizons (Archive : 1941-1978), vol. 1, no. 18, 1958, pp. 10-18.

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