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Lausanne’s Gallery of Art by the Insane

Lausanne, Switzerland

Switzerland’s hilly, lakeside Lausanne hosts the Collection de l’Art Brut — art by self-taught, nonconformist artists, many of whom were deemed insane. Collector Jean Dubuffet found their work original and untainted by the art world.

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Lausanne perches elegantly overlooking Lake Geneva. The city is made of two charming zones: the idyllic waterfront and the tangled and historic old town. Locals nickname their town the San Francisco of Switzerland for all its hills. There's no way to see it without lots of climbing. Lausanne's pedestrianized Rue de Bourg has the finest shops. By the way, be careful with the pronunciation, many confuse Lausanne with Luzern.

Lausanne's collection of fringe art — or Art Brut — fills one of Europe's most thought-provoking art galleries.

It presents works by self-taught creators who, for various reasons, escaped cultural conditioning and social conformity. The people who made this art were completely untrained — as free-spirited as artists can be.

These pieces were created by amateur artists — many who were labeled (and even locked up) by society as "insane" or even "criminally insane." Thumbnail biographies of these outsiders personalize their work.

In the 1940s, the artist Jean Dubuffet began collecting art produced by people he called "free from artistic culture and free from fashion tendencies." Dubuffet said, "The art does not lie in beds ready-made for it. It runs away when its name is called. It wants to be incognito. Its best moments are when it forgets what it's called."