Alice Bailly

1872–1938

Alice Bailly was one of Switzerland’s most radical painters in the early decades of the 20th century. By 1906, Bailly had settled in Paris, where she became friends with many avant-garde modernist painters, including Juan Gris, Francis Picabia, and Marie Laurencin.

While she was exhibiting her early wood engravings in Paris, Fauvism came to the fore. Bailly was inspired by the style’s bold use of intense colors, dark outlines, and emphatically unrealistic anatomy and space. In 1908, her new paintings hung at the Salon d’Automne alongside the art of the principal Fauve painters.

Continuing her stylistic experimentation, Bailly developed her own variation of Cubism. In 1912, her work was chosen to represent Switzerland in a traveling exhibition seen in Russia, England, and Spain. When World War I broke out, Bailly returned to Switzerland, where she invented “wool paintings,” mixed-media works in which short strands of colored yarn imitated brush strokes.

Bailly was briefly active in the Dada phenomenon. She moved to Lausanne in 1923 and stayed there the rest of her life, continuing to exhibit regularly and promote the cause of modern art. In 1936, Bailly accepted a commission to paint eight large murals for the foyer of the Theatre of Lausanne. This monumental task led to exhaustion, which presumably made Bailly more susceptible to the tuberculosis that claimed her life two years later.