ART BRUT XXL - June 28 through September 22, 2019

Large-scale photo show in the park of the Château de Beaulieu.

The Collection de l’Art Brut will be closed until September 17th (2019) for construction work entailing, above all, the installation of an elevator. Given this time frame, we take pleasure in inviting you to a show extending from June 28th to September 22nd in the gardens of the Château de Beaulieu in Lausanne and featuring large-scale photographs of Outsider Art “environments” from around the world. These represent architectural feats or installations set up, for the most part, on private plots or gardens belonging to self-taught builders. Some of the latter have, however, taken over such sites covertly: to such creators, the very act of creating is part and parcel of their entire life.

The photographs to be presented hail from various sources. Some, now belonging to our museum archives, come from a group of slides donated to the museum by the photographers Cynthia Carlson, Francis David and Beryl Sokoloff. Others (Scott Miller, Willem Volkersz, Robert Foster) hail from the SPACES (Saving and Preserving Art and Cultural Environments) association — a non-profit organization born in Los Angeles in 1978, and spearheaded, at the time, by the renowned and militant community founder Seymour Rosen, who passed away in 2006. SPACES was the first institution devoted to documenting and conserving Outsider Art environments, initially in the United States and, later, worldwide. The selection on display will also include several photos by resp. Hervé Couton, Mario Del Curto and Philippe Lespinasse. We are most grateful to them for their support of this project, as we are to Jo Farb Hernández (currently heading SPACES) and to the Vevey Images festival.

Exhibition Curator: Sarah Lombardi, director of the Collection de l’Art Brut, in collaboration with Dominique Koch and Vincent Monod.

The Authors 

Bomarzo Garden, located near Rome, is a mid-16th century creation by Vicino Orsini, Lord of Bomarzo. This extravagant garden, which Orsini named his “Sacro Bosco” (sacred wood), features large stone sculptures that include, among others, La Bouche de l’Enfer (Hell’s mouth) — a piece carved out of and into rock to create a grotto in the shape of a widely open-mouthed face. The inside features a table and several stone benches also carved by Orsini.

Beginning in 1989, Richard Greaves (1952) built up wood huts in the Beauce region of Quebec: these he created by dismantling several abandoned barns in the region and carrying the parts over to his site. His “anarchitectures,” which have since disappeared, were asymmetrical in design and lacked any right angles, as seen in La Cabane à sucre (the sugar hut) or La maison des trois petits cochons (the three little pigs’ house).

During the 1970s, Josep Pujiula i Vila (1937-2016) took to the Spanish village of Argelaguer to build his labyrinthine structures and ten-meter high towers, for which he resorted to the great pliancy of willow tree branches. In 2010, the municipal authorities ordered him to destroy his constructions, to make room for a highway. Undaunted, he went on to build a second environment just as large as the first and made of the same materials, as well as with the concrete and steel “extras” that the highway road workers were happy to provide. At long last, this site did survive, classified by the local authorities in 2014 after years of ongoing battle on behalf of its preservation.

Clarence Schmidt (1897-1978), a bricklayer in Woodstock (NY state), spent twelve hours a day over thirty years to build up an architectural unit in a park. The main building — featuring a multiplicity of windows, glass mirror shards and thirty-five rooms — resembled a huge castle of cards. It was built up with live trees as its supports, only to end up being burnt to the ground by a fire. These photographs are all that remain of it.

The Watts Towers, built by Sabato Rodia (1875-1965) — a bricklayer born in Italy who immigrated to the United States in 1890 — owe their survival in extremis to the joint efforts of various local militants and artists, who pulled together in 1959 to rescue them. Situated in the Watts district in the suburbs of Los Angeles, the environment itself consists of nine towers, the highest of which reaches thirty-three meters. Rodia took thirty-three years to complete his project, using metal bars he would bend after having slid them under nearby railway tracks, together with concrete, and covered with seashells and mosaic pieces out of broken dishes or glass. 

Year after year, Leonard Knight (1931-2014) slathered cement and colored paint onto a mountain in California’s Mojave Desert. It is here, too, that he settled with his truck in 1986, joining a community of people belonging to the fringes of society. His environment, baptized Salvation Mountain, collapsed a first time. Thereupon, Knight set to work once again, replacing the cement with the far lighter weight adobe, and applying many liters of paint that people gave him.

From 1958 to 1985, Eddie Owens Martin (1908-1986), aka Saint EOM, transformed his childhood home in Buena Vista, Georgia (USA) into temples and pavilions. These he encircled with walls and totems in brightly painted colors portraying faces or mandalas. He dedicated his creation as a whole, which he baptized Pasaquan, to his personal religion of “pasaquoyanism.” Since its author’s death, the site has been preserved by the Pasaquan Society.

Nek Chand (1924-2015), who was employed as an inspector for the public works department in the city of Chandigarh, in India, created the Rock Garden. He began building his project in 1958, onto a plot of land smack in the middle of a jungle: here, Chand claimed, a glorious kingdom had once already existed. He cleared the ground and then went about collecting stones, bricks and miscellaneous salvaged materials, with an eye to building this two-hectare unit, featuring several hundred sculpture pieces aligned along a series of grounds levelled into terraces. The local council discovered this environment in 1972, and ordered its destruction to make way for road construction. However, the inhabitants of the area rose in opposition to the decree, even bringing the town to contribute financially to the work’s upkeep. In 1976 the authorities granted the environment official recognition, and today it has become the second most visited site in India (after the Taj Mahal).

Raymond Isidore (1904-1964), aka « Picassiette » (freeloader), was a sweeper in a cemetery near the city of Chartres (FR). In 1937, he set about decorating his house with mosaics by embedding shards of glass and crockery into cement. Once he had totally covered his house both inside and outside, he went on to set up enclosures and small altars in the yard: these he decorated with motifs inspired by the Cathedral of Chartres. This environment is under the protection of the town council.

Robert Vasseur (1908-2002), a milk delivery man by profession, also loved crockery shards. With the help of his wife, he thus took to using such shards and various kinds of seashells to decorate their house (in Louviers, near Rouen) inside and out. Known as La Maison à la vaisselle cassée (the broken dishware house), it looks as if it is weighed down by its mosaics. Indeed, the work’s author and its furnishings seem drowned out by this overloaded decor.

Maria Ángeles Fernández Cuesta (1950) — aka « La Pinturitas », has spent the last almost eighteen years painting the inside and outside walls of a closed down restaurant in Spain beside a road crossing the village of Arguedas, where she lives. She thus enjoys a seemingly infinite work space, since once she has finished a piece, she covers it over with a new painting, and this over and over again, constituting a highly graphic pictorial world. Here, primary colors dominate, while the bodies and faces — depicted in a single stroke — blend in with the animals and writings.

Practical information


June 28 - September 22, 2019

Opening reception

Friday 28 June 2019, 6:30pm programm under calendar pages


The exhibition ART BRUT XXL is accessible to people with reduced mobility.

Associated event(s)

  • Les Jardins de l'Art Brut - entrée libre - Friday 28 June 2019, 06:00 pm

    VENDREDI 28 JUIN - LES JARDINS DE L’ART BRUT 2019, 7e édition