Alois Carigiet

Alois Carigiet

Alois Carigiet (August 30, 1902 – August 1, 1985) was a Swiss graphic designer, painter, and illustrator. His most famous work includes a series of six illustrated children's books on alpine themes. In 1966 he was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Award for illustration. He was the older brother of actor and comedian Zarli Carigiet.


Early life and education in Graubünden (1902 – 1923)

Alois Carigiet was the seventh of eleven children born to Alois Carigiet and Barbara Maria Carigiet, née Lombriser, a farmer’s family from Trun in the canton of Grisons, where he grew up and spent his first school years. At home, the family spoke "Sursilvan", the local Romansh dialect of the anterior Rhine valley. [Hansjakob Diggelmann "Alois Carigiet: Leben und Werk" in Heinz von Arx, Peter Schnyder (editors), "Alois Carigiet" 1992: AS Buchkonzept AG, Zürich - ISBN 3-905111-02-0, p 8] In 1911, economic hardship forced his family to move to the canton’s German-speaking capital Chur where his father found employment. This relocation into a more urban environment had a strong impact on the nine-year old. In retrospect, Carigiet described the move as an “emigration to the low-lands”, from a “mountain boy’s paradise” to a “gloomy apartment on the ground floor in a narrow town alley”. [Beat Stutzer. "Carigiet. Die frühen Jahre". 8-54, 2002: AS Verlag & Buchkonzept AG, Zürich und München - ISBN 3-905111-73-X, p 8]

Carigiet visited primary and secondary schools in Chur, as well as the "Kantonsschule", the canton’s gymnasium, which he quit in 1918 in order to start an apprenticeship as a decorative designer and draftsman with master painter Martin Räth. While learning the art of graining, marbleizing, gold plating and other techniques of decorative art in Räth's atelier, Carigiet spent a lot of his spare time filling volumes of sketchbooks with drawings of rural and urban scenes, farm animals and pets, anatomical studies of the heads and beaks of birds exhibited at Chur’s natural history museum, as well as with numerous caricatures of his acquaintances and family. Räth noticed the apprentice’s talent as well, and one of Carigiet’s appointed creations, an assembly of decorated vases for the company Siebler & Co.’s shop windows, seems to have received particular appreciation. Carigiet finished his apprenticeship in 1923, with the highest grade in every subject. [Stutzer, pp 8-9]

Graphic design in Zurich (1923 – 1939)

After having completed his apprenticeship, Carigiet sought work in Zurich and started a job as a practical trainee with Max Dalang’s advertisement agency in 1923, where he soon learned the techniques of graphic design and was hired as a regular employee. After having won several competitions and having gained a reputation, Carigiet opened his own graphic atelier in Zurich in 1927, employing up to six people at times, due to the constantly large volume of orders his business received. Carigiet created numerous commercial and political advertisement posters, festive decorations, educational posters and murals for schools, illustrations and satirical caricatures for the print media, as well magazine covers for periodicals such as "Schweizer Spiegel" and "SBB-Revue". [Stutzer, p 10-13] Important work in the 1930s included a diorama for the Swiss Pavilion at the Paris International world fair in 1937, and set designs, murals and the official posters for the "Landi", the Swiss national exposition held in Zurich in 1939. [Stutzer, p 20]

Artistic development

Though he had never studied visual arts in the academic sense, Carigiet's early graphic design was already strongly influenced by contemporary artists, such as El Lissitzky, whose use of photomontage in a poster announcing the exhibition of Russian avant-garde artists in Zurich, in 1928, inspired the design of a political campaign poster for Zurich's mayor Emil Klöti. [Therese Bhattacharya-Stettler, "Alois Carigiet als Gebrauchsgraphiker" in Heinz von Arx, Peter Schnyder (editors), "Alois Carigiet" 1992: AS Buchkonzept AG, Zürich - ISBN 3-905111-02-0, p 68] In the early 1930s Carigiet traveled to Paris, Munich, Vienna, and Salzburg where he became acquainted with the art movement "Neue Sachlichkeit", as reflected in painted scenes of Paris in "’Das rote Haus am Montmartre" (watercolor) and of Ascona in "Haus und Garten in Ascona" (oil painting on cardboard), both created in 1935. Contemporary expressionism had an influence on his work as well, including his commercial artwork: For example, the display of red horses and a green cow on posters for the OLMA, Switzerland’s annual national agricultural fair, in 1946 and 1952 received acclaim from art critics and questions from more conservative farmers, to which he succinctly replied that the cow was green because it had eaten grass.Carigiet’s paintings increasingly depicted everyday motifs from his home canton Graubünden and occasionally Zurich, but also from further trips to France, Spain, and Lapland in the mid 1930s. [Stutzer, pp 18-19]

Carigiet always held a keen interest in the theatre, and had already worked in costume design in the late 1920s. With the help of art critic Jakob Rudolf Welti, he was commissioned as costume and stage designer for the Stadttheater Zürich’s performance of "La belle Hélène" in an adaptation by Max Werner Lenz, and created design work for three other programs at the Stadttheater as well. Carigiet was one of the founding members of the influential Cabaret Cornichon, a satirical cabaret program staged in the restaurant "zum Hirschen" in Zurich which would become one of the most significant political cabarets of German-speaking Switzerland during Germany’s Nazi regime. Carigiet designed the Cabaret's logo, a grinning cornichon (gherkin) with a carrot-nose, and from 1935 to 1946 he created often parodistic costume and set designs for ten of the Cornichon’s programs, including a heavily decorated barrel organ used by his brother Zarli who was also a member of the Cabaret’s ensemble. [Stutzer, pp 14-15] [Hansjakob Diggelmann, p 9]

Platenga (1939 – 1950)

While spending a holiday in Trun in May 1939, Carigiet hiked to "Platenga", a hamlet on one of the terraces in the community of Obersaxen, where, in his own words, he was immediately fascinated by the landscape's vastness and untouchedness and the feeling of a newly found, long lost paradise. [Stutzer, p 22] He gave up his business in Zurich, and, in October 1939, rented a small farm house without electricity or running water, the "Hüs am Bach" ("house at the stream") in Platenga. Carigiet wished to dedicate his life to art and observation, spending hours a day, equipped with a pair of binoculars and a sketch book, tracking down the alpine fauna. [Stutzer, pp 24-25]

On April 20, 1943, Carigiet married Berta Carolina Müller (1911 – 1980) an art student from Halle whom he had met in Germany. After their first daughter was born in 1944, they bought land near Platenga’s chapel. In 1945 Carigiet designed plans for a larger house which was built in 1946. In 1947, the second daughter was born in the new house, called "Im Sunnefang". Mainly for the sake of the girls’ education, the family moved back to Zurich in 1950, where Carigiet took up his work as a graphic designer again, while also continuing his artistic pursuits. [Stutzer, pp 25-31]

Children’s books

In 1940, Carigiet was approached by the Romansh speaking author Selina Chönz who asked him to illustrate her story "Uorsin" and publish it as a children’s picture book. After several years of hesitating, Carigiet finally agreed, and spent several weeks sketching the scenery and architecture in Guarda, Chönz's home village in the Lower Engadin, after which he modeled the protagonist’s village. In October 1945 the book was published in German as "Uorsin (Schellen-Ursli. Ein Engadiner Bilderbuch)". The story follows a boy’s perilous climb through snow to an abandoned summer hut in order to retrieve a large "trychel" for the annual Chalandamarz celebrations on March 1st. The English title is "A Bell for Ursli"; the book has been translated into ten languages with total sales estimated around 1.7 million worldwide. [Stutzer, p 32 - 34] Carigiet's dramatic and colorful compositions were noticed and positively reviewed by art critics such as Manuel Gasser in "Graphis" or Linus Birchler, editor-in-chief of "Art Monuments of Switzerland" and member of the Swiss Federal Art Commission.

Carigiet and Chönz continued their series of alpine children’s books after "Schellen-Ursli" with two titles focusing on Ursli’s younger sister: "Flurina (Flurina und das Wildvögelein. Schellen-Ursli’s Schwester)" in 1952 (English title: "Florina and the Wild Bird") and "La naivera (Der grosse Schnee)" in 1957 ("The Snowstorm"). In the 1960s, Carigiet continued on his own, illustrating "and" writing "Zottel, Zick und Zwerg. Eine Geschichte von drei Geissen" in 1965 ("Anton the Goatherd"), "Birnbaum, Birke, Berberitze. Eine Geschichte aus den Bündner Bergen" in 1967 ("The Pear Tree, the Birch Tree and the Barberry Bush"), and "Maurus und Madleina. Über den Berg in die Stadt" in 1969 ("Anton and Anne"). In 1966, Carigiet received the Hans Christian Andersen Award for his lasting contribution to children’s literature, making him the first recipient of the award for illustration. The same year, he was awarded the Schweizer Jugendbuchpreis (Swiss youth book prize) for "Zottel, Zick und Zwerg". [Stutzer, pp 32-34]

Later life (1960 – 1985)

In 1960, Carigiet bought the house "Flutginas" (ferns) located above Trun, his village of childhood, where he would spend the rest of his life dedicated to painting. In a speech held in Zurich in 1962, he described his works as "narrative art" in a century of abstraction, and named Georges Rouault, "the greatest of all", as an exemplary inspiration for his artistic approach. [Alois Carigiet, "Alois Carigiet über sich selbst - Auszüge aus einer Rede" in Heinz von Arx, Peter Schnyder (editors), "Alois Carigiet" 1992: AS Buchkonzept AG, Zürich - ISBN 3-905111-02-0, p 140] Until 1982, he frequently exhibited his artwork in Switzerland, but also in Toronto (1969) and Frankfurt (1971). Alois Carigiet died on August 1, 1985 in Trun. [Stutzer, pp 50-52] [Hansjakob Diggelmann, p 14]



Beat Stutzer. "Carigiet. Die frühen Jahre". 8-54, 2002: AS Verlag & Buchkonzept AG, Zürich und München - ISBN 3-905111-73-X

External links

* [ About Alois Carigiet]

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  • Alois Carigiet — [kariˈdʑɛt] (* 30. August 1902 Trun, Graubünden; † 1. August 1985 Trun) war ein Schweizer Maler, Zeichner, Lithograf und Kinderbuchautor. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Carigiet — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Alois Carigiet (1902–1985), Schweizer Künstler, Illustrator und Kinderbuchautor Erwin Carigiet (* 1955), Schweizer Sozialrechtler Zarli Carigiet (1907–1981), Schweizer Schauspieler und Kabarettist …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alois — Infobox Given Name Revised name = Alois imagesize= caption= pronunciation= gender = Male meaning = region = German, Czech origin = Aloysius related names = footnotes = The first name Alois can refer to *Alois I, Prince of Liechtenstein. *Alois II …   Wikipedia

  • Carigiet —   [ karidʒɛt, ka riːdʒɛt], Alois, schweizerischer Maler, Grafiker und Bühnenbildner, * Trun (Kanton Graubünden) 30. 8. 1902, ✝ ebenda 1. 8. 1985; schuf neben Theater und Ausstellungsdekorationen u. a. Wandmalereien in Schulen, Bürger und… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Zarli Carigiet — (August 5, 1907 ndash; May 6, 1981) was a Swiss actor and comedian. He was a member of the satirical Cabaret Cornichon and starred in movies by directors such as Leopold Lindtberg, Franz Schnyder, and Kurt Früh. He was the younger brother of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Zarli Carigiet — Zarli (eigentlich Balthasar Anton) Carigiet [kariˈdʒ(j)ɛt] (* 5. August 1907 in Trun; † 6. Mai 1981 in Männedorf) war ein Schweizer Kabarettist und Schauspieler. Nach einer Maler und Dekorateurlehre war er zunächst Assistent seines Bruders, des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Schellen-Ursli — Schellenursli (auf Hochdeutsch auch Schellen Ursli), im rätoromanischen (oberengadinischen) Original Uorsin, ist eine Kindergeschichte der Autorin Selina Chönz und des Künstlers Alois Carigiet. Es gehört zu den bekanntesten Bilderbüchern der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Uorsin — Schellenursli (auf Hochdeutsch auch Schellen Ursli), im rätoromanischen (oberengadinischen) Original Uorsin, ist eine Kindergeschichte der Autorin Selina Chönz und des Künstlers Alois Carigiet. Es gehört zu den bekanntesten Bilderbüchern der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Chönz — Selina Chönz (* 4. Oktober 1910 in Samedan; † 17. Februar 2000) war eine Schweizer Autorin. Ihr bekanntestes Werk ist der Schellenursli, ein berühmtes Kinderbuch, das von Alois Carigiet illustrierte wurde. Selina Chönz absolvierte in Bern eine… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Caltgadira — GR dient als Kürzel für den Schweizer Kanton Graubünden und wird verwendet, um Verwechslungen mit anderen Einträgen des Namens Trun zu vermeiden. Trun …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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