Musée Collection d’Art Brut

Avenue Bergières 11, 1004 Lausanne, Switzerland

The fourth largest city in Switzerland, Lausanne’s name may not be as familiar as the first three (Zurich, Geneva, and Basel) but travelers who make the 40-mile journey from Geneva will find a cosmopolitan city with a lively arts scene. Among the stand-out galleries and museums is the fascinating Musée Collection d’Art Brut, which celebrates art from the fringes of society. The museum was born with a donation of works to the city of Lausanne by the French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet, and has now grown to include the works of some 400 different artists like Aloïse, a governess at the court in Potsdam institutionalized because of her religious fervor, and Henry Darger, who worked as a dishwasher and painted hundreds of beautiful watercolors of imaginary lands that were only discovered after his death.

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This museum of outsider art houses a unique and often enlightening assembly of pieces crafted by outcasts, mental-ward patients, prisoners, and other artists lacking any formal training. It owes its origins to the French-born artist Jean Dubuffet, who not only coined the phrase art brut but was among the first to recognize the quality of work produced by the various self-taught creators he encountered. He collected their output over the years and, in 1971, donated it all to the city of Lausanne. Don’t miss Vivian Girls by Henry Darger, an American hospital custodian whose fantastic pieces are some of the best-known examples of outsider art.

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