Lusanne's Art and Architecture
For our first excursion outside Geneva, we decide to ride up the east side of the lake (Lac Leman) to Lausanne. Founded in the 4th century as a Roman settlement on the shores of Lake Geneva, Lausanne is Switzerland's center of French-speaking culture and life. It is the seat of the Federal Supreme Court and location for the International Olympic Committee headquarters. Beyond the facts is a city that feels young and vibrant. Its art museums and galleries push the edges of contemporary thinking and fashionable hipsters roam its streets. First on our list is a visit to the Collection de l'Art Brut, the personal Outsider Art collection of French painter and sculptor, Jean Dubuffet.
Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) takes an idealistic approach to aesthetics, embracing so called "low art" and eschewing traditional standards of beauty in favor of what he believes to be a more authentic and deeper approach to image-making. Jean Dubuffet questions the culture of fine arts in Paris. He is one of the first artists to support and promote l'Art Brut, a term he coined in the 1940s for the art of people living at the margins of society. Outsider Art, as it is often called in the United States, includes the work of artists not influenced or trained in any fine art tradition. It also includes artists whose ideas for paintings, collages, sculptures, and weavings derive from their own impulses and imaginings, not from efforts to seek approval or recognition from the commercial art industry. After Dubuffet reads the writings of psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn, Bildnerei der Geisteskranke (Artistry of the Mentally Ill), a book which is richly illustrated with examples, he realizes outsider art as a source of inspiration for his own art. Dubuffet's own collection is comprised of criminals, patients in mental hospitals, spiritual mediums, those who see 'visions,' the mentally challenged, and often those locked in compulsivity. The 18th century 4-story chateau stable that houses the collection is a piece of art in itself.
After this intoxicating journey through four floors of "impulse art," we hop on one of Lausanne's sleek buses and ride to its historic City Centre. We spot a cozy brasserie offering a lunch special of fresh Lac Leman perch, pommes frites, vin rouge and crème brulee. It's then a short, cold walk to the Palais de Rumine to see the Beaux-Arts section. Steve is drawn to Beaux-Arts because of his training in the Beaux-Arts method in architecture school. The Palais de Rumine is designed in a Florentine Renaissance Style which places emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry and the regularity of parts as they are demonstrated in the architecture of classical antiquity and, in particular, ancient Roman architecture. Orderly arrangements of columns, pilasters and lintels, as well as the use of semicircular arches, hemispherical domes, niches and aedicules replace the more complex proportional systems and irregular profiles of medieval buildings prior to the Renaissance.