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Self-Portrait (1917), Oil on canvas, 32 x 23 1/2 in. In the collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Alice Bailly (February 25, 1872 – January 1, 1938) was a radical Swiss painter, known for her interpretation of cubism and her multimedia wool paintings.


Education and early career

Bailly was born in Geneva, Switzerland, where she attended separate classes for women at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, studying under Hugues Bovy and Denise Sarkiss. She also went on to study in Munich, Germany. By 1906 she had moved to Paris, where she befriended a number of notable modernist painters such as Juan Gris, Francis Picabia, Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Fernand Léger, Sonia Lewitska and Marie Laurencin.

Fauvism and Cubism

While in Paris she became interested in Fauvism, and showed some paintings in the style at the Salon d'Automne alongside principal painters of the movement.

Wool paintings

At the beginning of World War I, Bailly returned to Switzerland and invented her signature tableaux-laine or "wool paintings" in which short strands of colored yarn acted as brush strokes. Between 1913 and 1922 she made approximately fifty paintings in this style. She was also briefly involved with the Dada movement.

Later life

She moved to Lausanne in 1923 and remained there for the rest of her life. She was commissioned to paint eight large murals for the foyer of the Theatre of Lausanne in 1936. This task led to exhaustion which may have contributed to the tuberculosis that caused her death in 1938. Her will directed that the proceeds from the sale of her art be used to establish a trust fund to aid young Swiss artists.

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