Biographical notes on Walter Jones
*27.3.1910 Oberursel im Taunus (D), †12.6.1979 Zurich. Becomes a Swiss citizen (Mellingen) in 1933.
Painter and graphic artist. Invented Intrapolis, an urbanistic vision. Art commentator, critic and teacher. Book illustrator.
Walter Jonas, a German by birth, moved to Baden with his parents shortly after he was born. In 1918, his father was appointed head of the patents department of Brown Boveri & Co in Baden.
From 1929 to 1932, after passing his Matura (the Swiss baccalaureate) in Zurich, he attended the Reimannschen Kunstschule, an art school in Berlin, where he studied under Moritz Melzer, a member of the Brücke movement. Journeys to South Africa, Corsica and Spain.
1932 moves to Paris. Member of Porza, the international community of artists. Acquaintance with Robert Delaunay, Albert Marquet, Manès Sperber, Otto Freundlich, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Erich Mühsam.
1935 returns to Zurich. Before the outbreak of WWII, travels to Dalmatia and Corsica, alone or accompanied by Zoran Music and Albert Marquet.
1939 to 1944 military service in Switzerland. Orientation towards classical themes: Etchings for the Magical Flute, aquatint etchings for Judith by Friedrich Hebbel, for the Gilgamesch Epos, the Buch einer Nacht with Werner Y. Müller and young Friedrich Dürrenmatt, who still wanted to become a painter at the time. In his biographical work, Friedrich Dürrenmatt later acknowledged turning to writing because of Walter Jonas. At the time, Jonas’s studio was a meeting point for writers, artists and scientists such as Karl Kerényi, François Bondy, Zoltan Kemeny, Fritz Hochwälder, Theo Otto, Katja and Thomas Mann, Alexander Gosztonyi et al..
1942 marries Rosa Maria Kemmler. Jonas teaches drawing to make ends meet. Among his students are Carlotta Stocker, Alex Sadkowsky, Walter Grab, René and Hanspeter Mühlemann, Wladimir Sagal et al.
1946. Première of the dance suite composed by Alfred Baum for flute, viola and piano, inspired by Jonas’s aquatint etchings.
1947 participates in the Venice Biennale (at the invitation of Italian painter friends).
1949 journeys to North Africa (Tunis).
1951 journeys to India to search for a disappeared artist friend. Stay in Almora. Discovers oriental philosophy. Produces a significant series of paintings.
From 1954 (to 1964). Regular art commentator for the newly established Swiss television broadcasting station. Swiss television's first direct broadcasting from the Zurich Kunsthaus (Vincent van Gogh exhibition). Cycle of television broadcasts on famous painters, the magic of form, a painter visits India, etc.
Jonas illustrates the complete works of Jeremias Gotthel (Ex Libris), Don Juan or the Love of Geometry by Max Frisch.
His exploration of oriental philosophies has a decisive influence on his expressionism. Intense literary activity, including as columnist and art critic for Die Tat, NZZ, Werk, Weltwoche and the Zürcher Woche
1955 solo exhibition at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen.
1957 travels to Spain.
1958 his journey to Brazil triggers another important series of works.
1958 solo exhibitions at the Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo and at the Helmhaus, Zurich. Develops the idea of Intrapolis, a funnel-shaped city, his vision for a new, dignified and environment-friendly urbanism.
1960 awarded the Gleyre prize.
1963 second journey to Brazil.
1962 publication of the book Das Intrahaus - Vision einer Stadt (Origo-Verlag, Zurich). The Intrapolis concept achieves global recognition. Many publications and international speaking engagements follow. 1965 Founding member of GIAP (Groupe International d'Architecture Prospective) together with Michel Ragon, Yona Friedmann, Nicolas Schoeffer, et al.; GIAP Manifesto
1966 exhibition in Bordeaux.
1967 participates in the project for a floating cultural centre (schwimmenden Kulturzentrum) in Zurich.
1968 travels to Dakar at the invitation of Léopold Sédar Senghor, the President of Senegal. Exchange of correspondence with Senghor.
1969. Intrapolis project for the World Exhibition in Osaka, Japan.
1970. Feasibility study for Intrapolis commissioned by the German Ministry for planning, construction and urbanism, Bonn. 1971. The German tenants’ association plans to build 10 Intrapolis units in Wulfenm Haltern and Freiburg i.Br. Founding of Intrapolis AG (Walter Jonas, Alfons Matt, Hans Rudolf Haller, Alfred E.Urfer).
Up to 1975, numerous solo exhibitions in Switzerland and abroad, especially at Chichio Haller’s gallery in Zurich.
From 1975, progressive aggravation of a gruelling illness. Commemorative exhibition at the Zurich Kunsthaus in 1980, and at the Seedamm cultural centre in Pfäffikon in 1985-86.