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Jan de Swart papers, 1916-1994

Jan de Swart papers, 1916-1994

De Swart, Jan, 1908-1987


Collection Information

Size: 3.8 linear ft.

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.


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

Scope and Contents

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.

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

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