Jan standing with Gikkon Bakkum

The artistic training of Jan Yoors may have begun in his father’s studio, but following his pre-war year with the Rom, Yoors returned to Belgium, with the aim of studying sculpture—his known work in this genre includes plaster casts for bronze and carved stone relief. Yoors began his official training at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, from 1938 to 1939. There he studied with Oscar Jespers, a sculptor known for his cubist style. Jespers was also greatly influenced by Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi. And strong art deco lines characterize much of his work from the 1920s. Jespers began his teaching career first at La Cambre, L’Ecole National Superieure D’Architecture et des Arts Decoratifs, in Brussels in 1927 before moving to the Royal Academy. In 1938, the same time that Yoors was there, Alfred Barr of New York’s the Museum of Modern Art purchased some of Jespers’s sculpture for the museum’s collection. Yoors’s sculptures noticeably reflect Jespers’s influence, particularly in Yoors’s nudes and sculptures of women and children. The geometric volumes and flat surfaces in Yoors’s work is also reminiscent of Jespers’s, particularly in the latter’s statue of Moses.

From 1941 to 1942, perhaps at the suggestion of Jespers, Yoors enrolled at La Cambre, in Brussels, a school founded by the Dutch Art Nouveau designer Henry van de Velde. Throughout his life, Yoors met and kept in touch with several former students at La Cambre, including Pierre Alechinsky, Joris Mine, and Henri Stork. Yoors and Stork would work together on a film project to trace the Gypsies, although the project was never fully realized. By the time the two met, Stork was already a well-known Belgian documentary filmmaker. In addition to the artists Yoors encountered through his connections to these institutions, his father regularly introduced the budding sculptor to his artist friends, including Belgian fauvist painter and sculptor, Rik Wouters; expressionist painter Gustave De Smet; Felicien Rops, a printmaker; Jan Troorop, a half-Indonesian painter, who also designed graphics, such as the Art Nouveau “Delft Salad Oil” poster (1893). Upon moving to New York in 1950, Yoors continued to pursue sculpture, particularly making near-life-sized bronzes, some modeled after Annebert and Marianne.

Setting a plaster cast for the sculpture Woman Kneeling