Marcel Amiguet Biography

Marcel Amiguet




Painter, muralist, printmaker, tapestry artist, furniture designer, and musician Marcel Amiguet was born on July 24, 1891 in Ollon, Swizterland. The youngest of ten children, he enjoyed drawing as a child but wasn't able to pursue art seriously until he was an adult, instead earning a degree from the Lucerne Business School and then working as an apprentice postal clerk. In 1912 he relocated to Basel, where he participated in his first exhibition as an autodidactic artist. He then moved to Paris where he enrolled in courses the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. There, he studied fresco with Paul Baudouin painting with Francois Flemeng and Louis-Joseph-Raphael Collin. He took additional lessons in the studio of Robert Fernier who would become a friend supporter throughout Amiguet's career.

Dividing his time between Paris, Ollon, Charbonnieres, he found work as a portraitist and fresco artist, and began exhibiting in popular salons in the late 1910s. In 1919 the periodical Pages d'art published an essay on his work along with nine of his illustrations, and this was followed by more accolades in L'art et artistes and L'art en Suisse. Exhibitions at this time took him to Naeuchatel, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Geneva, Lausanne, Vevey, Zurich, and Basel, as well as several appearances at the famed Salon du Automne. An amatuer violinist, Amiguet would also host and perform concerts in his Paris studio, researching the correllations between music and color and espousing the ocular-harpsichord theory proposed by 18th century philosopher Louis Bertrand Castel. His interest in these connections eventually led to an invitation to lecture at the Institut Martenot and elsewhere, and to a teaching post at the Schola Cantorum school of the arts.

In 1928 he created an etching portfolio of portraits of twelve musicians, among them Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, Vincent d'Indy, and others, which would become one of his most noted works. As well, he found great inspiration in the Swiss mountain landscapes and countryside. In 1929 he embarked on a journey by truck, which he had built into a moving studio, to Bombay, traveling 40,000 kilometers over a period of nearly four years. He used his acclaim as a portraitist to earn money for travel expenses as well as art supplies, and on his return in 1933
he was given an exhibition at the Galerie de la Renaissance in Paris, showing hundreds of artworks created on his trip. The following year he published "Alone to Asia: Four Years in a Motor Truck" to some acclaim; later he would also travel to Spain, Portugal, Italy, and England, sketching and painting as he went.

Amiguet's reputation as an artist and intellectual kept him afloat for several years, but declining mental health following the Second World War, and eventual complete breakdown, relegated him to his studio in Ollon, where he cut himself off from friends and benefactors. He died in his studio on August 10, 1958.

Due to his condition his reputation dwindled and much of his work fell into disrepair or was lost, as was the desire by the art world to recount accurate descriptions of his life and career. However, recent publications of his work have revived interest in his unique stance in the European art world as it experienced the travails of World Wars and more.

A diverse and illuminating collection of his work can be found on the Ateliers d'Artistes website.