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Jan de Swart papers, 1916-1994

Jan de Swart papers, 1916-1994

De Swart, Jan, 1908-1987

Sculptor

Collection Information

Size: 3.8 linear ft.

Summary: The papers of southern California sculptor and inventor Jan de Swart measure 3.8 linear feet and are dated 1916-1994. They consist of correspondence, records concerning de Swart's inventions, writings, printed material, miscellaneous records, and photographs.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jan de Swart (1908-1987) was a sculptor and inventor from Los Angeles, Calif. Born 1908 in Breda, Holland, de Swart came to America in 1929 settling permanently in Los Angeles, Calif. He sustained himself in the early years working with an Italian furniture maker. In the 1940s, he devoted himself fully to his art, sculpting wood and casting metal. He also worked as an inventor solving intricate three-dimensional problems in ships, aircraft and machinery, inventing rivets and grommets which are still being used to this day.

Provenance

Donated 1996 and 2001 by Jock de Swart, son of Jan de Swart.

A Finding Aid to the Jan de Swart Papers Papers,
1916-1994
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.deswjan
Finding aid prepared by Catherine S. Gaines
Scope and Content Note
The papers of southern California sculptor and inventor Jan de Swart measure 3.8 linear feet and are dated 1916-1994. They consist of correspondence, records concerning de Swart's inventions, writings, printed material, miscellaneous records, and photographs.
Correspondence mostly concerns de Swart's career as an artist and, to a lesser extent, his personal life. Series 2: Invention Files documents many of de Swart's inventions through drawings, patents, contracts, licensing and royalty agreements, printed material, and related correspondence.
Writings by de Swart consist of "Notes on My Film
Metamorphoses
" and brief notes for remarks to students during the run of his exhibition at San Fernando Valley State University. Included among the writings by other authors is an extensive manuscript by Ursula de Swart about her life and that of her husband. Printed material includes articles about Jan de Swart, exhibition reviews, exhibition catalogs and announcements, and an article by Jan and Ursula de Swart about plastic as a sculptural medium.
Among the miscellaneous records are a few biographical notes, guest books from many of de Swart's exhibitions, and pencil drawings by Jacobs and Jock D. Peters. The 1942 calendar/diary of Ursel Peters (Ursula de Swart) records her marriage to Jan de Swart. A grant proposal for the completion of
Jan - A Tribute to Jan de Swart
, a film by Judith Bronowski and Lauren Rickey, includes biographical information and photographs.
Photographs are of artwork by Jan de Swart, exhibition installations, people (among them Jan and Ursula de Swart, and their granddaughter), places (including "Allegro," the de Swart home, and de Swart's studio), miscellaneous topics, and a photograph album of de Swart's work. Also included are a large number of negatives, slides, and transparencies.
Biographical Note
Jan de Swart (1908-1987) was a sculptor and inventor that lived and worked primarily in southern California.
Jan de Swart was born in Breda, Holland in 1908. At age 13, he began a five-year apprenticeship in the atelier of Master Yonkers in S'Hertgenbosch, run by a famous carver of ecclesiastical sculpture and furniture, and then completed compulsory military service before emigrating to the United States in 1929.
During his early years in California, de Swart worked as a furniture maker. He prospected for gold in Arizona, and lived in an artists' colony at Calabasas, California, during the 1930s, eventually settling in Eagle Rock, outside of Los Angeles, where he remained for the rest of his life. In the 1940s, he devoted himself to sculpture in wood, metal, and plastic, and participated in many exhibitions. His many commissions included murals, jewelry, furniture, and sculptured screens in a wide variety of media.
In addition, de Swart was an inventor who held over 100 scientific patents. Many of his inventions were for rivets, grommets, and other types of fasteners used for ships, aircraft, and machinery; he also developed a strong, honey-combed core material that was used for a variety of structural purposes.
He died in 1987 after suffering a heart attack.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 6 series.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1925-1991 (Box 1; 5 folders)
Series 2: Invention Files, 1930-1980 (Box 1; 0.5 linear ft.)
Series 3: Writings, 1920-1983 (Box 1; 0.3 linear ft.)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1919-1994 (Boxes 2, 4; 0.3 linear ft.)
Series 5: Miscellaneous Records, 1916-1989 (Boxes 2, 4; 14 folders)
Series 6: Photographs, 1933-1987 (Boxes 2-4, OVs 5-14; 2.5 linear ft.)
Provenance
Donated 1996 and 2001 by Jock de Swart, son of Jan de Swart.
Processing Information
The collection was processed to a preliminary level by Catherine S. Gaines in 2006.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Jan de Swart papers, 1916-1994. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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