Jean Rets (Jean-Baptiste Retserveldt) was born in Paris in 1910 to Belgian parents. He moved to Liège, where he subsequently received a brief training at the Académie des Beaux-Arts.
In the mid-1940s, he became a member of the APIAW (Association pour le progrès intellectuel et artistique de la Wallonie; Association for the Intellectual and Artistic Progress of Wallonia), founded by the collector and patron of the arts Fernand Graindorge. Rets thus developed a figurative style that was near Cubism and influenced by Georges Braque, and he exhibited with the ‘Jeune Peinture Belge’ group.
On this occasion he discovered a group of painters including Marc Mendelson, Antoine Mortier, and Jo Delahaut, who had moved to a non-figurative but still poetic art. This was a revelation for Rets, who had a cerebral temperament and had never been able to paint from nature. He appreciated the waste heaps visible from his quarters in ‘the fervent city’ Liège because they ‘introduced geometry into the landscape.’
In the early 1950s he became familiar with Magnelli’s oeuvre; meeting Vasarely in Paris proved in fact to be even more decisive. He thus developed an increasingly geometric and strict abstraction which, thanks to his articulation of errorless-curves and the power of the colour evenly and flatly applied, never conveyed coldness. What interested Rets were the relationships between forms and colours.
Jean Rets participated in various movements including Art Abstrait, Formes, and Art Construit (1960).
In 1954, he signed the Belgian manifesto of Spatialism alongside P. Bury, J. Delahaut, J. Elno, and J. Séaux. His art evolved toward relief painting, becoming more decorative and more playful, and designed to be integrated into a given space. Even though he included neon tubes into his luminous works in the 1960s in a manner resembling Optical Art, Jean Rets remained faithful to his artistic precepts until the end of his career in 1990.
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Art works from Jean Rets
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