It's a sad story of Johann-Jakob Hauswirth, who was a true artist and poet of Swiss folklore, but he knew nothing about it. Hauswirth was born in 1809 in the village of Saanen in the Canton of Bern, he spent all his life in the vicinity of Château-Œx of the Canton of Vaud.
Unfortunately, there is little information about his biography. The only trace in the records is found in the Canton of Château-Œx, it is the refusal in residence permit in 1847. He often moved from farm to farm, worked as a stoker boiler, a logger and at the same time was a self-taught artist. In the evenings he took scissors and created amazing collages from paper, which he gave to people as a sign of gratitude for overnight stop or to exchange them for food. These paintings were kept in houses as bookmarks in family Bibles, and the artist got a nickname, the Great Bookmarker.
The silhouettes of Hauswirth's collages illustrate scenes of Alpine rural life, floral arrangements and village festivals. Initially, the artist used only black and white paper, later color appeared. He never sought realism in his work, as he wanted to create a perfect world in harmony and symmetry, filled with folk motifs. Some paintings are very symbolic and reflect the author's loneliness. Not realizing the importance of his talent, the artist lived the last years of his life in extreme poverty in a forest hut, made with his own hands, where he died in 1871. After his death, his art remained ignored for more than forty years.
The works of Hauswirth were discodered by Théodore Delachaux, a curator of the Museum of Ethnography in Neuchatel (Musée d ethnographie de Neuchâtel), who immediately recognized unique artistic value: "As a true artist, he connected thoughts, matter and technology in perfect harmony. That's where the secret of every great master is."
Currently, Johann-Jacob Hauswirt is one of the most important representatives of Swiss folk art, his works are valued and well known outside Switzerland.
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