1. Aloïse
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Aloïse & the Theater of the Universe

"Aloïse was born Aloïse Corbaz in Lausanne in 1886 and never showed any interest in pictorial art before her confinement for schizophrenia in 1918. … She successfully finished her schooling at the age of 18 and then trained in a dressmaking school. In 1911, after a passionate love affair had been broken up by her elder sister Margueritte, she left for Germany. William II’s chaplain engaged her as his children’s governess in Potsdam. There she conceived a violent passion for the Kaiser himself. The outbreak of war in 1914 and her return home to Switzerland had catastrophic effects on her mental health.

"Four troubled years later, in 1918, she was diagnosed as schizophrenic and confined to the Cery Psychiatric Hospital near Lausanne. At Cery, she began an elaborate cosmogonic system which, paradoxically, changed the world she had fled in madness, into a metaphysical theater, the Theater of the Universe. Here, neither time, nor space, nor dimension exists; forms are metamorphosed and matter becomes essentially unstable.


"The world as recreated by Aloïse is cosmic and insubstantial, free of physical contingencies, in opposition to the old natural world she knew before her ‘death,’ that is before her illness. It is a supernatural world, theater of the Universe, thronged with immutable, hieratic actors whose deeds and feelings are expressed by the tiny hieroglyphic figures around them. Furthermore, their very essence is uncertain. They may be themselves and yet simultaneously represent something else. A woman may be herself and at the same time her icon … or a living lantern … or an allegory.


"Around 1920, Aloise began to draw in secret. However, from 1941 onwards, she experienced an outburst of artistic freedom which led her to cover rolls upon rolls of large sheets of paper with dazzling paintings, thus giving life to her cosmogonic theater. She pursued her work [after] 1953 with gradually decreasing intensity, until her death in 1964. She had been confined to hospital for 46 years."

— Jacqueline Porret-Forel (translated into English by Patricia Forel-Thrussell)

[The following are excerpts of texts embedded in a 1941 sketchbook, as transcribed by Jacqueline Porret-Forel. They can be read here as small poems or as markers of the range of interests in the larger works. The visual images presented on ubuweb are, however, from distinctively different pieces.]

The living Lantern of Ouchy Opera

Ida Deriaz Chief Yersin Lila Goergens

Raise high the torch of Saillens

Manon’s Blue Train

The General’s Coat

Fly to this Woman

Casino Tell-tale

Holding the Berlin banner

+ Belgian star Stretching Rome

Cleopatra weds in a palanquin

Peacock bed Pharaoh Master of Egypt


The Quirinal mermaid


I carried you off in Grenadille wedded … blue …

The pink pearl of India

The Delhi throne

Gobelin tapestry

I ravished you

They embraced at length

Woman showing picture on Montreux banner

Pius XI

French ladies’ embroidery

The word is the flame dancing before our eyes in the Arabian Nights’ Dream

Always Pius XI at the foot of the Cimarosa throne

My country the amphitheater

Austria est orbi universo

In the Swiss flag

Pius XI on his knees Ite missa est

Theater’s living lantern must be seated

Adoration of the Three Wise Men

Small palace at Grenoble


The town jewels

Glory to God in the Highest

Lifting Gustave III’s coat at Tusseau

Sketch of bank-note

Delhi carpet

The bridal Mikado veil embroidered in gold of the Walewska

Napoleon standing on the altar of the world

I adore you sun when you throw roses in the air and rosy earth into space

N story of the Empress of roses outside the Bastille


Love Story to Napoleon

Adoration of the Magi

the flowery earth and its work by

The Doge of Venice gondolier

Painting adored in the coat of Nature


Chief Yersin

The Doge of Venice carried by his gondoliers as pope

in sedia

Carried in the mermaid’s royal coat

Pegasus as Pius XI coiner carried off in

the mermaid’s imperial coat

rose magic wand motreux

Luther will find the rose You o life

The great Victoria saves the rich exiles in Switzerland

Printers of bank-notes

Chateau de Prangins

St. Francis of Sales and Jane d’Albret

Joan of Arc rainbow in hair

Indiana in the king’s mantle

Artist’s dressing room

Madame Schrath hanging on the balustra

Opera fresco villa Chantereine for her

gardens of the worlds of Italy and Armide


Kaiser William II’s love story

See also the entry "Adolf Wölfli & Outsider Poetry," for an overview of the subject & the work of the other great figure from the classical period of outsider poetry & art.

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