The Art Around Us: Art En Ville de Lausanne

by Vernon Dubner

December 5, 2020

You’d be forgiven if you walked past largely oblivious. After all, this is what happens once routine, familiarity, and haste set in. So let me ask you this when was the last time that you actually stopped, raised your eyes, and took a moment to look around?

And no, I’m not just talking about a stunningly superb sunset or fabulous fall foliage, though they are overwhelmingly deserving, but rather about the subtle details that are neatly incorporated into our urban landscape. So neatly in fact, that probably most of us have just cataloged them to our subconscious as invisible markers of place.

If this sounds familiar, then come along, take a little journey and let yourself discover some of Lausanne’s hidden charms. Actually……that said……they’re not hidden at all. They’re presented by the Ville de Lausanne in an easy-to-use format* on their Art en Ville website and if you never knew this, then it’s time that you did! (find the guide here)Spread throughout the city’s main neighborhoods are 82 artworks by 67 artists with 5 proposed walking itineraries. A combination of installations, sculptures, and murals populate public squares, decorate city parks, and adorn the facades of communal buildings. In all probability, you’re certainly familiar with the frog sculpture (to go by its very informal name) on the East side of St. François, the moss-covered fountains between Manor and Place de la Louve, or of course the large wind vane in the Port of Ouchy. What you maybe didn’t know, is that each of these works has a title, was imagined by an artist, and is accompanied by an artistic statement, all of which is at your fingertips on the Art en Ville website. Therefore, it goes without saying that with 79 other works to discover, this is but the tip of the iceberg!

1. Did you know that the Eole, 1994 by Clelia Bettua, lines up with carvings in the 4 monoliths on the shore to form a circle?


2. Have you ever been to the little park just to the side of the Pont Bessières where André Lasserre’s sculpture sits between the juxtaposition of the old town and the vista of downtown?


3. Did you ever see Jean-Claude Schauenberg's trompe-l'oeil windows or Carole Rey and Toma Fausto’s installation in the courtyard of the Collège de Villamont?


public art

Given its presence and accessibility within the public realm, public art usually finds itself in an uncomfortable position. Either it is largely made up of mundane monuments to forgotten histories, or in an attempt to capitalize on visibility, it is focused on big, eye-catching blockbuster projects. This unfortunately means that everything else can be sometimes left by the wayside. Luckily, this is where Art en Ville excels because it is clear that Lausanne has thought out their public artwork planning.

That said, if you never knew of Art en Ville before today, may I offer you a few words before you rush off in hopes of discovering artistic enlightenment. In all fairness, the selection of works within Art en Ville is a mixed bunch. Some, as subjective probabilities would suggest, elicit more interest than others, but that is to be expected. What is fascinating and marvelous is the fact that in this city that I know so well, or think that I know so well, there are 82 points of detail where a discovery is waiting to be made. It is a treasure hunt that invites you, if even only for a minute to stop, look, and consider the lines, horizons, and perspectives. It is a map that will guide you to unfamiliar spots along small roads, to parks that offer new views, and maybe answer questions about something that has always caught your eye. Therefore, go out, have a look, and see what little charms you can find in your neighborhood or along your Sunday promenade.