Art as primal force

June 1 - September 1 2024

What is art and who determines that? These are questions evoked by the exhibition L’ART BRUT ̶ Art as primal force, which opens at Millesgården on 1 June 2024. The French expression l’art brut, or 'raw art', was coined by French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901 - 1985). The term refers to the works of creators who are outside the established art world and its academic structure. During his lifetime, Dubuffet collected over 5,000 works and today the collection boasts over 70,000 works. In the Art Gallery at Millesgården, the works are arranged thematically and show geometric image compositions, colourful paintings with emblematic figures and scraps of paper with cartoon picture stories followed by writings, sculptures, works with animal motifs and landscape depictions. The exhibition at Millesgården is a collaboration with Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland and it is based on 19 Swiss creators and presents over 100 works.


Art brut is a French word meaning 'raw art' or outsider art. But how do we define art? Throughout history, humans have to immortalised and expressed their inner emotional life to the outside world in various ways. Archeological remains and artefacts have been found across the globe, in every culture. Are humans endowed with a crude and natural artistic impulse? Is art a concept devised by modern man or do we have an ancient driving force within us? These are some of the questions being addressed in Millesgården’s upcoming exhibition L’ART BRUT ̶ Art as primal force.


Several artists and trends throughout history have been inspired by these questions, sought answers to the ultimate truth and endeavoured to find the "origin"  ̶  the authentic and unspoiled. French artist Jean Dubuffet was one of these artists. In the summer of 1945, Dubuffet set out to Switzerland to study unconventional art and collect material with the aim of publishing a number of writings on the subject. He believed that the human need for art is primal and fundamental, and wanted to find examples of pure and unadulterated – raw – artistic expression that was not distorted by the conventions of society. As a contrast to traditional art, which he referred to as 'art culturel', Dubuffet described what he considered to be real art as art brut - 'raw art'. He believed he could see this among people who, in one way or another, were outside the boundaries and norms of society. He wanted to find authentic artistic expression that came about without the intention of being art, for example among hermits, psychiatric hospital patients and inmates in prisons or among children. On his trip, Dubuffet acquired both knowledge – he met, among others, a psychiatrist who had studied the subject extensively – and works that would form the basis of his collection.


"By this [Art Brut] we mean pieces of work executed by people untouched by artistic culture, in which therefore mimicry, contrary to what happens in intellectuals, plays little or no part, so that their authors draw everything (subjects, choice of materials employed, means of transposition, rhythms, ways of writing, etc.) from their own depths and not from clichés of classical art or art that is fashionable. Here we are witnessing an artistic operation that is completely pure, raw, reinvented in all its phases by its author, based solely on his own impulses. Art, therefore, in which is manifested the sole function of invention, and not those, constantly seen in cultural art, of the chameleon and the monkey."

Jean Dubuffet, 1949.


During his lifetime, Dubuffet collected over 5,000 works by 133 people that he donated to the city of Lausanne in Switzerland in 1971. Over the years, the collection has grown and today consists of 70,000 works housed at the Collection de l’Art Brut Lausanne, which opened to the public in 1976.


Arranged thematically, the exhibition begins with Adolf Wölfli’s characteristic and geometric pictorial compositions and Aloïse Corbaz’s colourful paintings with emblematic figures. Works by Adolf Wölfli are among the first acquisitions in Dubuffet’s collection and Aloïse Corbaz is one of the reasons why the collection finally ended up in Lausanne. This is followed by a collection of works acquired from the country’s psychiatric hospitals. These works are characterised by their format: small pieces of paper with cartoon picture stories by creators such as Julie Bar and Jules Doudin. Works are also presented in which the authors refer to their own selves, including Justine Python’s writings, Gaston Teuscher's turbulent motifs and Angelo Meani’s sculptures. Finally, we encounter Aloïs Wey’s imaginary palace architecture and Samuel Failloubaz’s animal motifs together with Benjamin Bonjour’s landscapes.


Exhibitors: Julie Bar, Benjamin Bonjour, Aloïse Corbaz, Gaspard Corpataux, Diego, Jules Doudin, Samuel Failloubaz, Anne-Lise Jeanneret, Pierre Kocher, Hans Krüsi, Angelo Meani, Justine Python, Jean Radovic, Armand Schulthess, Gaston Teuscher, Johann Trösch, Berthe Urasco, Alois Wey and Adolf Wölfli.  




About the exhibition

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland. Dubuffet’s large collection of paintings and sculptures as well as installations, collages and texts led to the establishment of the museum, which opened in 1976 and houses over 70,000 works.  


For further press information, interview requests and press invitations, please contact: Thomas Hägg, thomas.hagg@millesgarden.se or on tel no. +46 708723806.  


Download high-res images and press material here.

Fauvism Feminism Flamboyance
10 February – 19 May 2024

On February 10, 2024, Millesgården Museum opens the exhibition about Jacqueline Marval (1866-1932). Here the visitor gets an opportunity to discover a multifaceted and fascinating artistry from the early 20th century. An artistry few are aware of - but which is part of the context where giants such as Matisse, Derain, Picasso and Denis have long had their place. Marval and her work were present in Paris when art history was written, when Picasso exhibited his Demoiselles d'Avignon and when the concept of Fauvism arose.

Jacqueline Marval is one of the colorful French artists who found their place on the Paris art scene in the early 20th century. She exhibited alongside icons such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Maurice Denis. With bold colors and free brushstrokes, Marval portrayed women, often naked, and often with herself as muse and model. A daring move by a woman at the turn of the last century. Lauded by her contemporaries and described by the art critic and poet Guillaume Apollinaire as "One of the most remarkable artists of our time", she participated in countless exhibitions both in France and internationally.

In Millesgården's art gallery, in a retrospective exhibition, the first since 1987 and the first ever outside of France, visitors are greeted by around 50 works spanning Jacqueline Marval's artistic career. The exhibition shows a multifaceted and fascinating artistry that few are aware of but which is now highlighted in collaboration with the Comité Jacqueline Marval in Paris. 

"Two years ago, Jacqueline Marval's name caught Millesgården's attention. Her name appeared in the line of famous French artists such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and André Derain and we became curious as to who she was. Our searches led to the Comité Marval in Paris, which spent 40 years acquiring works by her," says Thérèse Dyhlén, acting CEO and museum director at Millesgården. "We are proud to be able to present an interesting and important artistry from the early 20th century that few are aware of."

"It is with great pleasure that we introduce Jacqueline Marval to the Swedish audience. Thanks to the Millesgården Museum, we can now nurture her artistry and ensure that she regains the international recognition she had before her death," announces Comité Jacqueline Marval.

The exhibition Jacqueline Marval – Fauvism Feminism Flamboyance runs between February 10, 2024 and May 19, 2024 and is shown in Millesgården Museum's art gallery.


About Jacqueline Marval:
Jacqueline Marval was born Marie-Joséphine Vallet in 1866 near Grenoble in France. She trains to be a teacher, marries and has a son, who dies at just six months old. Her son's tragic death leads to a kind of rebirth that will affect the rest of her life. She leaves her former life behind, divorces, moves to the artists' quarter of Montparnasse in Paris and takes the name Jacqueline Marval (Mar+Val from her former name) and makes a living as a seamstress and embroiderer. Marval begins to associate with artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Kees van Dongen, Albert Marquet and Tsuguharu Foujita. She begins to paint, self-taught, free, flamboyant and spontaneous, and the gallerist Berthe Weill, renowned and diligent patron of women artists, exhibits her work from 1902.

At the Salon d´automne in 1905, where Marval exhibited at the same time as, among others, Matisse, the visitors were shocked by a painting with undisguised wild, living brushstrokes and unmixed expressive colors and a critic called them les fauves – the savages. The term Fauvism was born!

Like her artist friend Matisse, she lets color be the motif, frees it from its descriptive role and lets it convey emotions. Recurring in Jacqueline Marval's painting we find familiar facial features; her own. They are found not only in self-portraits but also in depictions of odalisques and other figures. She is her own muse and often portrays the female body without idealization or beautification, free and with a different look from the man's. Marval did not exhibit as a female
artist and often refused similar proposals, she wouldn’t want to be considered for her gender, rather for her art.

Marval makes a name for herself and exhibits with artists who are today seen as giants: Picasso, Matisse and Denis. One of Marval's works was shown at The Armory Show in 1913, the acclaimed exhibition where European contemporary art was first presented in New York. In the same year, she received the prestigious commission to paint eight panels in the new theater Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, one of Europe's first Art Deco buildings.

During the 1920s, she is introduced to the trendy beach life in the seaside resort of Biarritz by the revolutionary couturier Paul Poiret. On the canvas, she attaches sun-kissed sandy beaches, lapping waves and the throng of people relaxing in black bathing suits. In some works, she lets the light dominate, and lets bathers and parasols stand out as small black dots against the canvas.

Along the Seine, at 19 quai Saint Michel, she lives next door to Flandrin, Marquet and Matisse. Showy bouquets of flowers against a background of Notre Dame and strolling Parisians form motifs in the last years of Marval's life. She dies of cancer on May 28, 1932, aged 65.

Some tone-setting works in the exhibition:
L'Odalisque au Guépard, oil on canvas (1900)
The painting is one of Marval's first and was exhibited at the Salon des indépendants in 1901. It is seen as her manifesto where she used herself as muse and model and is said to be the first female nude self-portrait in the history of art.

L'Étrange femme, oil on canvas (1920)
The painting is a subtle nude study where the elongated body, composition and details embody the essence of the happy 1920s. This flamboyance is recurring in Marval's motifs, but also part of her lifestyle.

Fleurs devant Notre-Dame, oil on canvas, (ca. 1920)
In the center stands a bouquet of amaryllis with Notre-Dame and people botanizing among Paris' famous bookcases as background. Towards the end of her life, flamboyant flower bouquets were a recurring motif for Marval.

Biarritz, oil on canvas (1923)
The time in Biarritz together with fashion designer Paul Poiret was an important period in Marval's life. Here she meets, and early depicts, a coming trend; sunbathing. Here she created detailed portraits of women and men in fashionable bathing suits but also environmental images where people and parasols appear as small black dots on the canvas.

About the exhibition:
The exhibition Jacqueline Marval – Fauvism Feminism Flamboyance is a retrospective exhibition, the first since 1987 and the first ever outside France. The exhibition is produced in collaboration with Comité Jacqueline Marval in Paris.

For further press information, an invitation to a press screening or other press questions, please contact Thomas Hägg, thomas.hagg@millesgarden.se or 0708-723806.


Download high res press images and press material here.