Podestà - September 11, 2003 through January 25, 2004

Giovanni Battista Podestà (1895-1976) was no officially recognized artist, writer or philosopher. That is to say, he did not acquire the requisite cultural background, nor did he ever gain entry into any institutional channels. However, Podestà refused to remain confined to silence. He invented a utopian universe, creating sculptures and many-colored high and low reliefs that glitter with the mirror fragments and salvaged aluminum foil remnants used in them. The same exuberance went into decorating the furnishings and walls of his little apartment in Laveno (Northern Italy). Likewise, he took to adorning his body, using it as a support to be paraded in the streets.
Podestà’s images were not created ex nihilo, but drew their inspiration from the Middle Ages, both ideologically and iconographically. By linking together, in a way of his own, various cultural, popular and religious motifs – transforming and reintegrating them into a highly personalized synthesis – he developed an actual “self-made culture.” This reversion to a medieval spirit enabled him to recapture the didactic, emblematic and symbolic nature of an image.
Featuring the abundant holdings belonging to the Collection de l’Art Brut, together with works on loan from several public and private collections, this is the largest retrospective ever assembled of Podestà’s production. Also on view at this exhibition is a series of photographs by Helen Sager.

Practical Information


September 11, 2003 to January 25, 2004
Opening celebration Wednesday September 10, 2003, 18:30


Lucienne Peiry

Exhibition catalogue

Paul Beaud, Véronique Mauron, Denis Müller, Lucienne Peiry, Michel Thévoz, Podestà, Lausanne, Collection de l’Art Brut, 2003.


The exhibition Podestà is not accessible to people with reduced mobility.