Jean Jansem was born in Seuleuze (former Turkish part of Armenia) and spent his early childhood in Greece before his family moved to Paris when he was twelve. An accident in his youth that kept him from playing with other children left him with a deeply serious personality. He found inspiration in Picasso’s paintings in the 1930s when he studied in Paris. Jansem attended the École des Arts Décoratifs from 1936—1938, and in the 1950s went to Greece, where Mediterranean light began to permeate his previously somber paintings.
Jansem’s figures transcended geographic and cultural barriers, revealing universal skills of trade through men, women, and children. The 1950s saw great success and numerous awards. Beginning in the 1960s, his works were widely shown and well-received throughout Japan; there he left a lasting impression, for in 1992, the Jansem Museum opened in Tokyo.
His works can also be seen in museums in Paris, Politiers, and the United States.