Biéler exhibition in Lausanne

For the first time in over sixty years there's a chance this summer to see a major exhibition of the works of Swiss artist Ernest Biéler. The retrospective was organised by the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne.

This content was published on July 7, 1999 minutes

For the first time in over sixty years there's a chance this summer to see a major exhibition of the works of Swiss artist Ernest Biéler. The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne has organised the retrospective, which in particular traces Biéler's development as a painter between 1880 and 1920.

Pictured above is "L'Eau Mystérieuse," painted in 1911.

Born in Rolle in 1863, Biéler left home at 17 to study art in Paris. The Lausanne exhibition shows the influences of realism, impressionism and then art nouveau on the output of this multi-talented artist, who also worked with mosaics and as an illustrator.

During the period covered by the exhibition, he spent much of his time in the village of Savièse in canton Valais. His portraits of local inhabitants are among the highlights, a striking record of mountain people at the turn of the century. But of all the paintings, perhaps the most eye-catching is entitled "Mysterious Water". From Biéler's art nouveau period, it shows a group of women in brightly coloured dresses, peering down into a round pond the surface of which is covered with lily leaves.

The last major public retrospective was at Berne's Kunsthalle in 1938. Asked why it had taken so long to stage another, Lausanne Fine Arts Museum director Jörg Zutter said that although Biéler's paintings had always been interesting for collectors, some in the art world thought his style too conservative. "I concede that in a way it was a little conservative, but it was also very international and very interesting," added Zutter.

Appropriately, the retrospective coincides with a big event on the calendar of canton Vaud – where Biéler was born and died. Biéler was familiar with the Fête des Vignerons, or wine-growers' festival, which takes place once a generation around Vevey.

In 1905 Biéler illustrated the official brochure for the Fête, which is also on view in Lausanne. Then in 1927, as a further example of his versatility, he designed the festival's costumes and décors. The exhibition ends on October 10th.

Written by SRI staff

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