The International Lausanne Tapestry Biennials (1962-1995)
The International Centre of Ancient and Modern Tapestry (referred to by its French acronym, CITAM) was founded in June 1961, in Lausanne, with the objective of organising the International Tapestry Biennials which would record, document and above all display the vitality and creativity of contemporary tapestry art. This far-reaching project was carried out by a number of personalities from the cultural and political scene, namely the French artist Jean Lurçat, the man behind a revival of tapestry weaving in his home country; Pierre Pauli, the general commissioner of the exhibitions and future curator of the Musée des arts décoratifs; Paul-Henri Jaccard, the director of the Lausanne Association for the Defense of Collective Interests; Georges-André Chevallaz, the mayor of the City of Lausanne; and René Berger, the director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts.
With the aim of providing contemporary tapestry with a new platform, the CITAM organised sixteen events between 1962 and 1995 which profoundly transformed the landscape of international textile art and which, according to Lurçat’s wish, functioned as a true ‘seismograph’ of contemporary textile creation.
The Lausanne Biennials, held in the halls of the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, gradually became more than just an exhibition. They had become a not-to-be-missed event that bore witness to the extraordinary evolution of an artistic expression that had graduated from the status of a decorative art to that of a truly independent art. And thus, for thirty years, thanks to the Tapestry Biennials, Lausanne came to be recognised as the capital of contemporary textile art and the laboratory of the New Tapestry movement.
When Pierre Pauli died in 1970, an association was founded in his honour. Its members, the artists that exhibited at the Lausanne Biennials, assembled a grouping of works which today forms part of the Fondation Toms Pauli Collection, the patrimony of the State of Vaud.