December 14, 2008

Armand Schulthess, Der garten des Wissens/The garden of knowledge

pictures from the website of Edition Patrick Frey 
(not available anymore),

Life and works

Swiss born Armand Schulthess (1901-1972) from 1921-1935 owned a shop in ladies wear, which had to close due to the economic recession. Subsequently he got a job in a government department, which he left in 1951 to retire into a secluded house he owned since 1941 located in Auressio (canton Tessin).

Living on his own (his two marriages had failed), he began a project that included the inventory of all human knowledge, which he did by writing down referrals, annotations, quotes, etc on small plates.

Schulthess attached these lead or tin plates, often bundled and interconnected with ropes, to the trees and the bushes in the large chestnut garden of some 18.000 m² (4.4 acres) around the house. Paths in the garden would lead eventual visitors more or less systematically through the whole of human knowledge.

Schulthess made thousands of these plates. In this way he reconstructed the garden into an art environment that has become known as the "garden of knowledge"..

Apart from these plates, he made annotations on paper about everything which can be known about human culture and history, like he also singlehandedly composed illustrated books about sexuality, altogether some seventy big volumes, which probably happened to be a rather artistic collection.

Over the years Schulthess' life became more and more isolated, although some representatives of the Swiss artworld who were interested in his activities, occasionally could visit him.

In 1972 he was found dead in his garden.

Schulthess' oeuvre has been almost completely destroyed

The next year the inheritors restored the garden into its original condition and removed/demolished almost all plates and almost all books, in this way depriving Switzerland of a very special art environment.

Only a few of  Schulthess' works have been saved. The Museo Casa Anatta on the Monte Verità near Ascona in Switzerland has a room with a number of these saved works and the Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne also has a number of plates and books.

Swiss photographer and filmmaker Hans-Ulrich Schlumpf, when preparing a movie about Armand Schulthess, between 1963 and 1972 visited him regularly and made a lot of pictures, both of the exterior and the interior of the house. In 1973 he also succeeded in saving some of Schulthess' single-handedly made books. Pictures and impressions of the books have been published in 2011 (see documentation)

* Film J'ai le telephone (Switzerland, 1974), by Hans-Ulrich Schlumpf
*  M. Britschgi (red)S. Corinna Bille (text), Theo Frey (photographs)Armand Schulthess 1901-1972. Luzern (Diopter Verlag), 1996 -138 p.
* Biography on the website of the Collection de l'art brut Lausanne. with pictures of items in the collection
* Article on SPACES website (around 2012)
* Book by Hans-Ulrich Schlumpf, Armand Schulthess. Rekonstruktion eines Universums (Reconstruction of a universe), Zürich (Ed Patrick Frey), 2011. -400 p, ill.  (Available on DVD)
* Armand Schulthess: Il giardino della conoscenza, essays by Ricardo Carazzetti and Bianca Tosatti, photographs by Hans Bruderlin. Bellinzona (Ed Sottoscala), 2013
* Book by Lucienne Peiry, Le jardin de la mémoire, Paris (Ed. Allia), 2021. -80 p.

* Video (6'24") of a broadcast by Swiss TV, Kulturplatz, 27-4-2011

first published December 2008, last revised November 2021

Armand Schulthess
Der Garten des Wissens
Auressio, Tessin, Switzerland
site demolished

1 comment:

  1. Уважанемый Хенк Большое Спасибо!