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Switzerland's Contribution to the History of Art and Design

  • Switzerland's Contribution to the History of Art and Design

  • Despite its size and outside influences, landlocked Switzerland is a patriotic country that appreciates its rich cultural history. With proximity to grand European capitals and its spectacular mountainous landscape, Switzerland became a hub for a wealth of international artists in the 19th Century who in turn inspired the creativity of the Swiss population and aided in the formation of Switzerlands artistic identity.


    Although a relatively small number of Swiss artists have become internationally famous, those recognized on a global scale have gone on to influence not only artists in their respective fields but also the modern creative world.

  • Paul Klee

  • Born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, Paul Klee is a world-renowned painter with a unique style that was influenced by expressionism, cubism, surrealism, and orientalism. At first, Klee drew in black and white, saying he would never be a painter however, after influence from artists such as Kandinsky and Delaunay he spent a long time searching for his sense of colour and is now considered a master of colour theory.


    Swiss-German Klee studied at The Academy of Fine Art in Germany and remained resident in the country as his artistic career flourished. During this time, Klee taught at The Bauhaus and toured the USA to lecture and exhibit work alongside the Blue Four (Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky and Lyonel Feininger). Klee found his peak of creativity during the First World War at which time he moved back to Switzerland and produced almost 500 works in the space of a year. Today, Paul Klee is often referred to as Switzerland's most original and impressive painter and his work is honoured in Zentrum Paul Klee, a museum in Bern dedicated solely to his work.

  • Alberto Giacometti

  • Swiss born, internationally renowned sculptor Alberto Giacometti was born into an artistic family. His father, Giovanni, was a Post-Impressionist painter who studied the work of French Impressionists and made a substantial contribution to the renewal of Swiss painting in the 20th century. Albertos brothers meanwhile were also notable artists in their own right, Diego, a sculptor and Bruno, an architect.


    As such, Alberto began to draw, paint and sculpt at an early age and later studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Geneva. His early work took inspiration from a variety of movements including cubism and surrealism during time spent in Paris from 1922. It was not until 1947 that he developed his characteristic style featuring very tall, thin sculptures of the human figure.


    Art history scholars find it hard to categorise Giacomettis most distinctive work, as influences can be interpreted from surrealism, formalism and expressionism, whilst inspired by Italian Etruscan art.


    In honour of Giacometti's work and contribution to Swiss culture, his face is pictured on the 100 Swiss Franc note.

  • Le Corbusier

  • Pioneering Swiss architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, commonly known by his pseudonym Le Corbusier, was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds close to the Swiss-French border. Although some of his designs are controversial, Le Corbusier is considered by many to be the most influential and admired architect of the twentieth century. Le Corbusier was an accomplished artist across various fields, but he is principally famed for his contribution to 'modern architecture'. His early collection of villas, including Villa Savoye, were innovative, ahead of the field and influenced the paired back cubic structures of modern building design.


    Driven by an interest in urban living and his concept that a house is a 'machine for living in', Le Corbusier became heavily involved in providing structural solutions to inner-city overcrowding in Paris. Through the implementation of large-scale housing blocks, Le Corbusier hoped that his innovative architectural forms would raise the quality of life of the lower classes. Later, his career went beyond architectural design to whole scale city regeneration, which included the introduction of skyscrapers to France the design of Indias first planned city, Chandigarh.


    Like Giacometti, Le Corbusier was recognised for his outstanding contributions to architecture and design and is featured on the 10 Swiss Franc note.

  • Art in the Canton of Vaud

    The Canton of Vaud celebrates Switzerland's artistic past with a wealth of museums dedicated to the field. Close to Du Parc, residents can take in creative inspiration at the Museum of Art and History, the Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts.

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