A visit to the Outsider Art Collection

By My-Lausanne

Lausanne is fortunate to host a unique museum in Switzerland that is recognised worldwide and displays the works of incredible artists. MyLausanne takes you to the Collection de l’Art Brut (Outsider Art Collection), in the Beaulieu quarter.

The first Outsider Art Collection in the world, the museum – that has in particular collaborated with the Manhattan Folk Art Museum – is located a few minutes away from the town centre. A less touristic area that nevertheless boasts addresses worth discovering, such as the Petit Bœuf or the Auberge de Beaulieu, next to the museum. These two neighbourhood bistros are authentic, each with a small terrace and offering a genuine welcome. It’s a good way to satisfy your appetite both for food and for culture, since the Collection de l’Art Brut doesn’t have a cafeteria.


Arriving at the Collection de l’Art Brut, we are welcomed by two ceramic statues bearing trays, under this quote by Jean Dubuffet:

Collection de l’Art Brut (c)Marino Trotta

“Outsider Art is Outsider Art and everyone understands this very well. Or perhaps not quite that well? Of course, that is exactly why we are curious to take a closer look.”


It’s he who bequeathed his collection to the City of Lausanne, thus enabling the creation of the museum. But since we haven’t yet “quite understood it that well”, we hurry inside and buy a ticket: the museum shop can wait until the end of our visit.


800 works in the permanent exhibition

The floor, the walls, the stairs: everything is black. A plush black, without being dark, that enhances the collection well. By observing the work of the artists, we rapidly get to grips with the concept of Outsider Art. The displayed pictures, sculptures and drawings have nothing in common with those in other museums. Their creators are people who have taught themselves, are marginal or living outside traditional classical norms (in prison or in the psychiatric wards of hospitals, for instance). They create their own worlds with no concern for artistic or social influences, or for the critics, and don’t seek the public’s approval. And that’s what Outsider Art is.


The exhibited works blend styles and creation methods, so that we rapidly feel that we are on a journey across the world and in the human spirit. We take the central staircase to continue the visit, alongside a drawing as large and colourful as Aloïse, hung from the ceiling and visible from the three floors.


On the first floor, we see directly the drawings made of repeated small motives: attention to detail and to certain patterns that is fascinating. No time to get familiar with them. Earthenware faces fixed to the walls watch us, right next to a huge installation made of wood, almost uniquely composed of drawers and hiding places for small figurines.


Moving through the floors, one surprise follows another, up to the third floor and the last small room that is dedicated to the works of Paul Amar: 3D pictures and masks inspired by African art made of seashells. The works are covered with acrylic paint and nail varnish, and illuminated by light bulbs concealed inside these relief frescoes. It’s an impressive firework display of colours to end the visit on a high note.

Collection de l’Art Brut Lausanne, Paul Amar La Planète des singes (c) Claude BornandBefore leaving, we stop at the boutique to find out a bit more about Outsider Art and some of the displayed creators with books, films or posters, as the visit leaves no one unmoved and triggers a desire to understand it further.



November 30, 2018 – April 28, 2019, Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.