First published: Fall 2014
The discovery and celebration of the life and work of new outsider artists of importance is Raw Vision’s passionate and ongoing purpose. Nevertheless, the magazine returns, again and again, to the investigation of the work of early artistes bruts who, at the beginning of the history of this unique artistic category, achieved international recognition. Among these giants of outsider art, one thinks immediately of Adolf Wölfli (1864–1930), Heinrich Anton Müller (1865–1930), Gaston Duf (1920–1966) and certainly the female artist Aloïse Corbaz (1886–1964). Less commonly celebrated in Raw Vision are the contributions of the outstanding professional artists, physicians and scholars who single-handedly preserved this work from destruction, grasped its outstanding artistic importance and frequently devoted their lives to the investigation of the unique biographical situations, societal pressures and mental states that inspired the birth of pictorial images of astonishing originality and beauty. Among these pioneering figures no one would fail to include Hans Prinzhorn (1886–1933), Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985) and Leo Navratil (1921–2006), without whom the outsider art field would never have come to exist.
Star of the Paris Opera, by Aloïse. Coloured pencil and geranium juice on eight joined sheets of paper, 1952–54. 64.5 x 46 in.,164 x 117 cm, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
The earliest female pioneer among the serious students of art brut was Jacqueline Marie Porret-Forel, whose recent death at the age of 97 represents a major loss to the scholarly investigation of outsider creativity. Her life’s work, which extended over 60 years, was devoted exclusively to understanding the life and work of Aloïse Corbaz. This appreciation of Dr Forel’s life and contribution, inspired by 25 years of friendship, is based on conversations with her, which took place over five days in late November 2013, four months prior to her death. What follows are her memories and reminiscences. Aloïse called Dr Forel, her physician and friend, by many names – “Doctoress”, “Carola” or “The Madonna”. We will call her Jacqueline, the name she preferred.