Les Biennales de la tapisserie à Lausanne
Le Centre international de la Tapisserie Ancienne et Moderne
The International Centre of Ancient and Modern Tapestry (ICAMT), known in French as CITAM (Centre international de la Tapisserie Ancienne et Moderne), was instituted in Lausanne in 1961. Its objective was to capture, document and, above all, to create public awareness of the vitality and inventiveness of contemporary tapestry art. The International Tapestry Biennials would be the means to achieve that end.
CITAM was created thanks to the enthusiasm of a number of leading personalities in politics and art such as the French artist Jean Lurçat, the instigator of the revival of tapestry weaving in his country; Pierre Pauli, the future curator of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs; Paul-Henri Jaccard, the director of the Association of Interests in Lausanne; Georges-André Chevallaz, the mayor of the city of Lausanne; and René Berger, the director and curator of the Musée des Beaux-Arts. With a view to giving contemporary tapestry a new aura, CITAM held sixteen shows from 1962 to 1995 which sparked radical changes on the international tapestry-art scene and, in keeping with Lurçat’s intention, served as a seismograph of contemporary textile creativity.
Over the years, the Lausanne Biennials became more than just simple exhibitions. They became major events – and are still seen as such by the artists and numerous international visitors who attended the shows at the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts – that bore witness to the extraordinary transformations that were taking place in the field of tapestry as it evolved from the status of a decorative art to that of a truly independent art form.
Some of the artists exhibiting in Lausanne were quick to depart from tradition and explored new modes of artistic expression by combining unusual techniques and materials. Tapestry works were given a new spatial definition through the use of volume. Their role took on different meaning and new avenues of interpretation opened up. Other artists re-examined their own approach and exploited the immense potential for expressive innovation in textile art, drawing their inspiration from the past or introducing totally new ideas.
This spirit of emulation which for three decades permeated the capital city of the canton of Vaud not only brought about a fundamental rethinking of textile art, but also offered a new critical reading of the history of modern and contemporary art.
The CITAM database: 911 listed works
The CITAM archives are currently held by two institutions in Lausanne: the City of Lausanne Archives keep the administrative documents (regulations, correspondence, and press) and the Fondation Toms Pauli keep all the dossiers relating to artists’ applications and the specialised library. The institutions have been working together to create a supplementary database of preserved sources.
The database includes a presentation of each of the 911 works exhibited at the fifteen Biennial Tapestry Exhibitions held between 1962 and 1993. The information found in the database was taken from the catalogues published for the respective exhibitions, and is available only in French. It has not been updated. The artists’ countries of origin are designated by the names (in French) prevailing at the time (e.g. Yougoslavie, Tchécoslovaquie, URSS). The colour illustrations come from the applications sent in to CITAM by the artists themselves. They supplement and/or replace the black and white illustrations that featured in the catalogues at the time. This is an obvious advantage for researchers and tapestry enthusiasts.
The 16th Tapestry Biennial (1955) does not appear in the database for the simple reason that this last exhibition was more like a retrospective, with works selected by three curators rather than on the basis of a competition open to all artists.
The information and reproductions of works posted online can only be used for scientific purposes (research, documentation or educational purposes), excluding commercial use. Their use is subject to regulations in force and compliance with copyright laws governing the use of artistic works and images. For permission to reproduce a work that is not in the public domain, a specific request must be addressed to the copyright holders (copyright companies or the original artists).
How does one search the database?
It can only be searched in French.
It can be searched according to a number of criteria: the artist’s name or country of origin, the year of the Biennial, or the type of work (technique or material used). These criteria can be combined. To make searching easier, just click on "?" (the question mark). This will give you access to every type of information indexes and enable you to find the object of your search according to the vocabulary used in the database.
If you have a problem, please contact the City of Lausanne Archives.