La Chaux-de-Fonds is a town of 38,000 inhabitants in a green setting in the Swiss Haut-Jura, 1,000 metres above sea level. It owes its structure, appearance, a large part of its character, and even its existence as a town to the watch-making industry. Its grid-pattern layout comes from determined and idealistic town planning, born out of the Age of the Enlightenment, applied to its reconstruction and development following the accidental fire in 1794 which destroyed the whole village: today La Chaux-de-Fonds is the most important Swiss example of coherent urban construction from the 19th century.

Art Nouveau was imported to La Chaux-de-Fonds at the end of the 19th century under the influence of watch-making patrons and their trade representatives, and finds pride of place in the watch-making arena. Window panes, tiles, stairwell designs, stuccos, wood and iron work found their way into new constructions.

Unique in Switzerland, it is at La Chaux-de-Fonds school of art that Art Nouveau found an original field of expression. Charles L’Eplattenier (1874-1946), an artist sensitive to the precepts of Art Nouveau and an enthusiastic teacher, developed a school whose expression was both original and ambitious. His advanced courses in art and decoration, launched in October 1905, introduced certain students of the school of art to the study of nature, among them Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, later Le Corbusier. The idea that “only nature can inspire” drove the young professor and his students to the study of the regional flora and fauna and to create a specific stylistic vocabulary called Pine tree Style. Together they achieved remarkable results in the creation of numerous designs (commissioned publicly or privately), which bear witness to exceptional industriousness. The creations include the most diverse objects: watch boxes, various ornamental pieces and even architecture with, for example, the Villa Fallet project in 1906. The Crematorium (1909-1910) is the most complete of all these works and is considered a masterpiece of this intense period of artistic innovation.

Geographically, it is interesting to note that La Chaux-de-Fonds is situated where French or Belgian Art Nouveau – typified by curves – and the much more geometric German (Jugendstil) or Austrian (Sezessionstil) Art Nouveau meet.

“The basis of our decorative style continues to be the pine tree. At its various ages, this tree offers endless decorative possibilities when studied as a whole or in detail. Large silver thistles, gentians and the like, together with the local fauna, lushly complement these elements.”

Image artist function date
Aubert, Georges painter, sculptor, drawer, painter-decorator, teacher ; co-founder of the Ateliers d’art réunis (1910) ; teacher at the Nouvelle Section de l’Ecole d’art (1911-1914) 1886-1961
Jeanneret, Charles-Edouard known as Le Corbusier architect, town planner, theoretician, writer, publisher, painter, engraver, drawer, sculptor, furniture and tapestry designer ; co-founder of the Ateliers d’art réunis (1910) ; teacher at the Nouvelle Section de l’Ecole d’art (1911-1914) 1887-1965
L’Eplattenier, Charles painter, drawer, illustrator, sculptor, architect, painter-decorator, educationalist ; teacher at the Ecole d’art de La Chaux-de-Fonds (1897-1914), creator of the Cours supérieur in 1905, founder of the Nouvelle Section in 1911 1874-1946
Perrin, Léon sculptor, decorator ; co-founder of the Ateliers d’art réunis ; teacher at the Nouvelle Section de l’Ecole d’art (1911-1914) 1886-1978
Evard, André painter, drawer and miniaturist ; co-founder of La Maison d’Art in 1903 1876-1972
Goering, Marie-Louise painter, watercoloursit, embroiderer, textile designer 1876-1973
Humbert, Charles Auguste painter, painter-decorator. Husband of Madeleine Woog 1891-1958
Lauper, Charles drawer, painter-decorator, editor for the Revue internationale d’Horlogerie ; co-founder of La Maison d’Art in 1903 1878-1915
Niestlé, Adrien engraver 1887-1972
Perrochet-Junod, Jeanne Adrienne sculptor, ceramist 1878-1956
Reussner, Charles sculptor, painter, art caster ; joined the Ateliers d’art réunis in 1910 1886-1961
Woog, Madeleine painter. Wife of Charles Humbert 1892-1929
Boillot, Léon Constant architect 1871-1956
Chapallaz, René architect 1881-1976
Crivelli, Jean entrepreneur, architect 1871-1960
Gogler, Charles Edouard furniture designer and manufacturer; owner of the shop Maison Moderne 1885-1976
Péter, Georges Frédéric (1886-1966) & Maurice (1887-1972) cabinet makers at La Sagne 1862-1941
Cover Author Description date Link
Helen Bieri Thomson (under the supervision of), Jean-Marc Barrelet, Helen Bieri Thomson, Edmond Charrière, Catherine Corthésy, Anouk Hellmann, Jean-Daniel Jeanneret, René Koelliker et Arthur Rüegg Une expérience Art nouveau : le Style sapin à La Chaux-de-Fonds

Somogy, Paris
2006
Pierre Du Bois Les mythologies de la Belle Epoque : La Chaux-de-Fonds, André Evard et l'Art Nouveau

Editions Suter
1975
Maurice Jeanneret Charles L'Eplattenier

Editions La Baconnière
1933
H. Allen Brooks Le Corbusier's formative years : Charles-Edouard Jeanneret at La Chaux-de-Fonds

University of Chicago Press
1997
Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, with contributions of Geoffrey Baker and Jacques Gubler Le Corbusier : early works

Academy Editions ; St. Martin's Press
1987
Artistes de La Chaux-de-Fonds. De Léopold Robert à Le Corbusier

Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Chaux-de-Fonds
1964
Bibliographie neuchâteloise

Ed. Gilles Attinger
1990
Inventaire suisse d'architecture 1850-1920 (INSA), vol III, pp. 127-217

Editions Société d'histoire de l'art en Suisse, La Chaux-de-Fonds
1982
Bibliographie de la Chaux-de-Fonds

Editions Bibliothèque de la Ville
1977
Charles Thomann La Chaux-de-Fonds à la Belle Epoque

Ed. S.P.R.L. Sodim
1975
La Chaux-de-Fonds : documents nouveaux publiés à l'occasion du 150e anniversaire de l'incendie du 5 mai 1794

Ed. A.D.C
1944
Maurice Favre "Le monde du Cours supérieur par les carnets de Charles Humbert"
Scientific article
in Revue historique neuchâteloise, n° 2
1998
Cathy Gfeller "L’essor de l’Art nouveau ŕ La Chaux-de-Fonds ou Les débuts de l’Ecole d’art (1900-1914)"
Scientific article
in Nouvelle revue neuchâteloise, 9e année, no. 34
1992
Anouk Hellmann "La participation de Charles L’Eplattenier (1874-1946) ŕ l’embellissement du crématoire et du cimetičre de La Chaux-de-Fonds (1909-1937)"
Scientific article
Mémoire de licence, Université de Genčve, Faculté des Lettres
2000
Anouk Hellmann "Les Ateliers d’art réunis de La Chaux-de-Fonds (1910-1916)"
Scientific article
in Art + Architecture en Suisse, année 53, n°3
2002
Anouk Hellmann "Le crématoire de La Chaux-de-Fonds: un monument singulier"
Scientific article
in Revue historique neuchâteloise, n° 3-4
2003
Anouk Hellmann « Charles L’Eplattenier, artiste et pédagogue (1874-1946) »
Scientific article
in Michel Schlup (dir.), Biographies neuchâteloises (1900-1950). Hauterive : Attinger
2005
Jean-Daniel Jeanneret « La Chaux-de-Fonds et l’Art nouveau »
Scientific article
in Revue historique neuchâteloise, n° 2
1998
Jean-Daniel Jeanneret « Le Crématoire de La Chaux-de-Fonds : une śuvre d’art totale »
Scientific article
in Revue historique neuchâteloise, n° 2
1998
Antonia Nessi "L’art au service du social : la décoration d’un restaurant antialcoolique ŕ La Chaux-de-Fonds par Charles L’Eplattenier"
Scientific article
in Revue historique neuchâteloise, n° 3-4
2003
Claire Piguet « L’Observatoire cantonal de Neuchâtel : une architecture et un ensemble décoratif »
Scientific article
in Revue historique neuchâteloise, n° 3-4
2003
Marie-Eve Scheurer « Le mouvement de l’Art nouveau et l’Ecole d’art de La Chaux-de-Fonds ŕ l’époque de Charles L’Eplattenier »
Scientific article
in Revue historique neuchâteloise, n° 2
1998
Jean-Daniel Jeanneret [dir.], Marikit Taylor, Aline Henchoz, Jérôme Heim Guide Bon Pied Bon Œil – 262 objets du patrimoine à découvrir

La Chaux-de-Fonds, Fondation pour le patrimoine de La Chaux-de-Fonds
Fabienne Hoffmann « Les vitraux Art nouveau de La Chaux-de-Fonds: l'étude d'un patrimoine domestique »
Scientific article
in Revue historique neuchâteloise, n°1-2
Nadja Maillard « Le premier prend la porte et la cage. Le deuxième prend la cage et la porte. Que fait le troisième? Réflexions sur quelques cages d'escalier du canton de Neuchâtel »
Scientific article
in Revue historique neuchâteloise, n°1-2
Marikit Taylor « What happened to Art nouveau? Le Corbusier, his mentors, and what they meant »
Scientific article
in Coup de fouet, n°21
Marikit Taylor « Marie-Louise Goering, a Style Sapin Creator »,
Scientific article
in Coup de fouet, n°26
Marikit Taylor «While the boys were playing, Marie-Louise Goering was silently redesigning La Chaux-de-Fonds »
Scientific article
in Actes du colloque: Breaking the Art Nouveau Glass Ceiling – The women of Art nouveau, CDF International Congress, Barcelona

Partner:
Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds
Service de l’urbanisme, des mobilités et de l’environnement
Passage Léopold-Robert 3
Case postale 370
CH – 2301 La Chaux-de-Fonds
Switzerland
Phone: +41 (0)32 967 63 96
E-mail: marikit.taylor@ne.ch

Local Partners:
Ecole d’arts appliqués
Musée des beaux-arts
Tourisme Neuchâtelois Montagnes

Links

Art nouveau à La Chaux-de-Fonds
Ecole d’arts appliqués
World Heritage in Switzerland