EN
Louis Soutter, Ballaigues 1937. © Theo Frey / Fotostiftung Schweiz
Louis Soutter, Ballaigues 1937. © Theo Frey / Fotostiftung Schweiz

Louis Soutter’s pictorial world revolves around elementary themes such as the examination of human nature, death and the question of life after death. The passion of Christ, and in particular the crucifixion, is a central motif that recurs again and again. Louis Soutter’s simple, silhouette-like human figures are portrayed with a sparing use of color, often in black India ink. Their abstract representation lends an almost obsessive, archaic quality. Therefore Soutter employed a very special technique: He applied the colour directly with his finger on the surface after having painted and drawn in pen and ink for more than 15 years. He makes particular use of India ink, gouache, and very occasionally oil on paper. The direct application of colour emphasises the highly expressive character of his work. In the more recent history of art, drawing and painting with one’s fingers was relatively uncommon.

Born 1871 in Morges, Louis Soutter, a cousin of Le Corbusier, studied engineering in Lausanne, architecture in Geneva, violin in Brussels, and painting in Lausanne and in Paris. In 1897 he moved together with his American wife Madge Fursman  to the United States. There he gave private violin and drawing lessons, and he was soon appointed head of the art department at Colorado College. Shortly thereafter he began showing his work in group exhibitions. In 1903 he returned to Morges: his state of health - both physical and mental - worsened steadily. In 1923 he was admitted to a residential care home in Ballaigues, Switzerland, where he spent the remaining 19 years of his life. In those years, isolated from the outside world, he produced an extensive oeuvre of exceptional importance. In particular the Peintures au doigt, which he began creating in 1937 and which were neglected for decades, represent a key position in 20th century art. Louis Soutter past away in Ballaigues in 1942.

Exhibitions

Publications

Exhibitions

Solo exhibitions
2015
Louis Soutter – Victor Hugo. Dessins parallèles

Maison Victor Hugo, Paris, France

2012
Louis Soutter, le tremblement de la modernité

La Maison Rouge, Paris, France

2012
Louis Soutter. Drawings

Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris, France

2011
Louis Soutter

Galerie Karsten Greve AG, St. Moritz, Switzerland

2005
Louis Soutter. Zeichnungen und Aquarelle

Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany

2003
Louis Soutter et la musique

Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland

2002
Louis Soutter et les Modernes

Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland

2002
Louis Soutter et les Modernes

Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts and Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland

1999
Louis Soutter. 30 dessins

Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

1998
Louis Soutter. Si le soleil me revanait

Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris, France

1998
Figura dell'anima

Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, Italy

1998
Louis Soutter. Fingermalerei 1937 - 42

Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, Germany

1993
Louis Soutter

Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland

1991
Louis Soutter. Zeichnungen und Fingermalereien

Galerie Hachmeister, Münster, Germany

1990
Louis Soutter

Galeria Franka Berndt, Paris, France

1990
Louis Soutter. Ausgewählte Zeichnungen

Galerie Schloss Greifenstein, Staad b. Rorschach, Switzerland

1990
Louis Soutter

Foundation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, Valais, France, travelled to Musée d’art Moderne, Troyes, France

1989
Louis Soutter 1871 - 1942, Adolf Wölfli 1864 - 1980

Galerie Michael Haas, Berlin, Germany

1988
Louis Soutter

Kunsthaus, Zug, Switzerland

1987
Louis Soutter

Galleria Matasci, Tenero, Locarno, Italy

1987
Louis Soutter. L’art commence où finit la vie

Musée Cantini, Marseille, France

1986
Louis Soutter. Carico di destino

Villa Faraldi, Imperia, Italy; travelled to: Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti, Genua, Italy; Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara, Italy

1986
Louis Soutter

Kunsthaus, Grenchen, Switzerland

1986
Die Finger malen – Louis Soutter / Arnulf Rainer

Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland, travelled to: Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/Main, Germany; Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz, Wolfgang Gurlitt-Museum, Linz, Germany

1985
Louis Soutter. Zeichnungen, Bücher, Fingermalerei

Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany; travelled to: Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany; arteba edition, Zurich, Switzerland

1983
Louis Soutter

Musée Alexis Forel, Morges, Switzerland

1982
Louis Soutter. Werke von 1923 - 1942

Galerie Knoedler, Zurich, Switzerland

1978
Louis Soutter. Un voyages au bout de la nuit

Galerie Engelberts, Geneva, Switzerland

1976
Louis Soutter

Galerie Dédale, Geneva, Switzerland

1976
Louis Soutter

Galerie Schreiner, Basel, Switzerland

1976
Louis Soutter. Zeichnungen

LOEB-Galerie, Bern, Switzerland

Group exhibitions
2020
Identities

Galerie Karsten Greve AG, St. Moritz, Switzerland

Learn more
2019
Friends, etc

La Collection Pierre Keller, Musée Jenisch, Vevey, Switzerland

2018
Wild Thing. Swiss Art of the 1980s

Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland

2016
Basquiat, Dubuffet, Soulages… A Private Collection

Fondation de l’Hermitage, Lausanne, Switzerland

2015
On the Border

Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland

2015
Accrochage

Galerie Karsten Greve AG, St. Moritz, Switzerland

2014
Accrochage

Galerie Karsten Greve AG, St. Moritz, Switzerland

2011
Sous le vent de l'Art Brut - Collection Charlotte Zander

Halle Saint Pierre, Paris, France

2011
Zettels Traum

Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany

2011
Parcours d'un galeriste. François Ditesheim

Musée des beaux-arts de La Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

2010
La maison et l’infini - La collection de Christian Zacharias

Fondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne, Switzerland

2010
Modern Times: responding to chaos

Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

2010
Gipfeltreffen der Moderne. Das Kunstmuseum Winterthur

Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria

2010
November Blues

Hachmeister Galerie, Münster, Germany

2009
Hespérides III. Retour à Eden

Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland

2009
On paper

Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris, France

2008
Ad Absurdum

MARTa Herford, Herford, Germany

2008
Series Drawings

Michael Werner Gallery, New York, USA

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